Magical Realism in Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Chronicle of a Death Foretold is one of the most famous pieces of the Latin American literature written by Gabriel García Márquez. In addition to the fact that the novel is thought-provoking and captivating, it is a vivid representation of magical realism traditions. The novel is dedicated to exploring a problem of human ignorance and indifference towards each other, as well as the issues in the society. The potential reader may see a distorted image of humanity by means of Márquez’s enigmatic tone and journalistic narrative. However, it should be undoubtedly mentioned that the use of magical realism profoundly affects this particular novel. It is separating reality from mysticism as well as combining these two features of Márquez’s writing style together.
The aesthetic principles of this novel can be seen through a prism of the author’s choice of a narrator that determines the structure of the work. Additionally, it is reasonable to take into account a thematic background of the novel and enlarge upon the significance of the integration in terms of the structure, themes, and stylistic display. However, the main aesthetic principle is the use of magical realism that sets the tone and creates a mysterious atmosphere.
To start with, it is necessary to point out that the structure of the novel plays an indispensable part in the reader’s interpretation. It is due to the reason that Márquez incorporates the thoughts and attitudes of different people to the event that takes place in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. The title of the novel itself reveals the essence of this particular event. The death is foretold and shown from different angles and interpretations by the means of clustering together a wide range of characters. They know beforehand or assume that something terrible is going to happen. Every character in the novel introduces the new information concerning the murder of Santiago. The reader becomes a witness of the crime as the narrator offers a pallet of colors, attitudes, actions, causes, and effects. Thus, the author achieves the desired effect, attaching the highest importance to every character and encouraging the reader to see every line in his/her creative writing. One may observe the weather. The structure of the novel manifests itself in the five chapters written in a manner of journalistic observations. This type of narration is suitable for the story because it sheds light on different perspectives of the issue. It combines all the possible ideas concerning the death of the main character. The narrator’s observations serve as definite guides for the reader to become absorbed in the novel. However, the narrator is rather unreliable due to the reason that he brings into focus the unnecessary details of the murder. The structure of the story is a certain descending gradation that manifests itself in the accumulation of the character’s ideas and observations. These ones lead the reader to the death itself described at the end of the story. Presumably, the structure exerts a tremendous impact on the literary integrity of the novel.
The narrative technique that has been described above is accompanied or supplemented by a striking thematic aspect. Chronicle of a Death Foretold is the novel that encompasses a variety of themes that the author criticizes. It is done in order to show the ordinary behavior of people and put an emphasis on the absurd of daily life. Seemingly, existentialist traditions concerning absurd are close to Márquez as one may notice a thread of absurd. It is trailed through the whole story. The author describes absurd as a product of human ignorance and indifference to each other. The characters who know about the possible death of Santiago do nothing to avert it. From this particular standpoint, the reader may interpret the role of the authorities being also aware of the murder. The matter is that the authorities’ attitudes to the issue are the same. They are indifferent to the fact that someone can destroy the order of things or make a difference.
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The key theme that Márquez explores is the virginity of a girl and a mysterious betrayal. The author converts it into a motif for the killing. Interestingly, the role of self-respect and the family’s dignity is highly valued in the Latin American society. Possibly, due to this reason, people do not notice the importance of the person’s life. Apart from the betrayal, the author satirizes religion, by ingraining the character of a bishop that has not arrived at the town. Therefore, the reader may witness numerous imperfection of the Latin American community.
The potential reader may find some connections of Márquez’ novel with Borges’ Man of the Pink Corner as all the Latino American creative writing has something in common. Interestingly, these two works are similar due to the reason that both of them are written in the magical realism. Márquez and Borges draw the readers’ attention to all the characters. Each of them brings his/her part to the story. It seems that the narrators of Márquez’ and Borges’ writings are obsessed with portraying details through the prism of the characters’ speech. Both works are marked with a biting satire towards the norms of the society.
I deem it is reasonable to admit that Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a reflection of Márquez’ attitude to the society, in general. In my humble opinion, the most captivating aspect of the story is the author’s satire that spreads over all the facets of Latin Americans’ lives. In the following lines, Márquez differentiates between the role of men and women in the society:
The brothers were brought up to be men. The girls were brought up to be married. They knew how to do screen embroidery, sew by machine, weave bone lace, wash and iron, make artificial flowers and fancy candy, and write engagement announcements […] Any man will be happy with them because they’ve been raised to suffer (Márquez).
I have been also astonished by the author’s writing style and stylistic devices that he uses in order to explore the main themes. In this context, with the help of the figurative language, the writer accommodates his novel to the cultural peculiarities of the Latin American nation. Thus, the reader may notice that Chronicle of a Death Foretold is rather metafictional. It occurs because of the scope of elements that are evident in the text of the story. Coming back to the literary devices, Márquez uses allusion to the Bible. The names of characters mostly correspond to those ones that can be found in the Holy Book. The allusions function as the ways to ridicule the society and the people’s attitude to religion. Latin Americans are mostly dazzled by religion to the extent that they simply do not notice the threats. It is so because of waiting for a bishop. However, the most vivid theme of religion may be seen through the prism of the murderer of Santiago Nasar. It may be interpreted as Christ’s crucifixion. Thus, Chronicle of a Death Foretold is highly symbolical. However, another peculiarity of the author’s style that I would like to dwell upon is magical realism.
Magical realism is one of determinant factors affecting the narrative. It distinguishes Márquez’ writing style. In the novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold, the function of magical realism is rather obvious. The author aims at depicting reality in contrast to mysticism. It is quite a masterful way to satirize and reflect upon the most problematic aspects of the Latin American society.
Seemingly, magical realism in the author’s writing style manifests itself in different components that determine such a genre. Firstly, it is essential to highlight the elements of magical realism that Márquez uses in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Among the evident ones, the reader may find the traces of dreams’ interpretations, exaggeration, and different magical ideas. The role of dreams in the novel and the character of Placida Linero, the mother of Santiago Nasar, fully embrace the notion of magical realism. Apart from his mother, the reader experiences a great deal of exaggeration in the novel. The best example to back up this idea is perhaps the amount of letters that Angela Vicario wrote to Bayardo San Roman. The latter one is a character that brings changes into the town and ruins the order. He is a man who marries Angela Vicario and brings troubles to her family. His image is very mysterious. Márquez puts an emphasis on the essence of his deeds. Placida Linero affirms that there is something strange and even demonizing about him. In addition, at the beginning of the novel, the reader notices the image of trees that may be also considered as some magical elements.
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The bizarre and extraordinary tone of the novel proves that magical realism is applied with the aim of ridiculing the society. It brings the readers to the assumption that the author harmoniously combines the form and the content. However, according to Pelayo, he puts an emphasis on the technique. It is the peculiarity of postmodern writers. One should also take into account the author’s ironic attitude to the crime that has been best interpreted by Gioia: “The holy grail of crime fiction is the perfectly planned murder, a killing so smartly conceived and efficiently executed that no trace of the perpetrator can be found” (n. p.). In the above-mentioned abstract, by reviewing the book, the critic sheds light on the writer’s humorous irony that is also an influential factor of magical realism.
To sum up the information mentioned above, it is evident that Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a novel that preserves the effects of magical realism. The style of the author is captivating owing to his masterful use of stylistic devices and an appropriate narrative structure. The story is considered to be metafictional due to the reason that it is highly satirical, psychological and even Biblical, to some extent. It can be also interpreted as a detective story because of the crime being the basis for speculations. The allusions that the writer provides are the guides to his main points and ideas. Magical realism is displayed by the means of magical elements, exaggeration, and the role of dreams. Presumably, the use of irony and satire show the author’s attitude to the Latin American society, in general. Magical realism is a striking tool by means of which the writer achieves the desired effect.