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Book Analysis

Does Gabriel García Márquez Present Angela Vicario As A Progressive Or Traditional Character? - Shreya Sachdev

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Chronicle of a Death Foretold Characters / Chronicle of a Death Foretold Themes / Gabriel Garcia Marquez Chronicle of a Death Foretold / Chronicle of a Death Foretold Analysis

The novella, Chronicle of a Death Foretold,  written by Gabriel García Márquez explores the character of Angela Vicario and whether her purpose in the novella is to be portrayed as a progressive or traditional character. The term progressive refers to Angela Vicario being more independent of her marital life and in charge of her own decisions, whereas the term traditional refers to Angela Vicario continuing to be obedient towards her family and the decisions they make for her. Angela Vicario is portrayed as a progressive character throughout the novel as she tells her family a man took her virginity. Regardless of whether this is true or not, she was able to give her family a name knowing what would happen to this man after she spoke, and this is why her confession can be seen as courageous. Furthermore, Angela Vicario does not give up on her relationship with Bayardo San Román even though the chances of them being together years later are very slim. Despite the fact this can be seen as weak, it can also help portray Angela Vicario as a patient and hardworking woman. Moreover, this is emphasized when she distances herself from her mother who is a terrible influence on her. Angela Vicario is portrayed more as a progressive character through the use of her diction and characterization of actions towards her family as well as towards the man she ends up with, Bayardo San Román.

The audience is first introduced to Angela Vicario in chapter two when she is forced by her mother as well as the rest of her family to marry Bayardo San Román, a wealthy man who she does not love and does not want to marry. Despite the fact that Angela Vicario feels extremely uncomfortable and melancholy about her marriage to Bayardo San Román, she does not argue with her family and simply chooses to obey her family’s decision and accept what faith has in store for her. This act of obedience Marquez incorporates into the novella makes the readers view Angela Vicario as a weak and traditional woman rather than strong and progressive. On page 19 of the novella, the narrator even says “she had a helpless air and a poverty of spirit that augured an uncertain future for her.” However, later, when Bayardo San Román finds out Angela Vicario is not a virgin and consults Angela Vicario’s brothers about what their sister has just told him, the Vicario brothers immediately sit Angela Vicario down and ask her the name of the man that took her virginity. Angela Vicario responds “Santiago Nasar.”

The fact that Angela Vicario actually states this man’s name can be viewed as both a representation of courage and weakness. If the reader chooses to believe Angela Vicario, then Angela Vicario is showing courage by naming the false culprit and protecting the man who actually took her virginity. If she still had feelings for this man at this point in the story then lying to her brothers to keep him safe is a sign of bravery. Likewise, if Santiago Nasar actually did take Angela Vicario’s virginity and rape her, then Angela Vicario announcing his name to the world is a sign of boldness. If readers choose not to believe Angela Vicario then stating Santiago Nasar’s name is a sign of fear and weakness because at this point, readers will understand Angela Vicario is not stating the real culprit’s name because she is terrified the real man that took her virginity would harm her and her family. Marquez uses Angela Vicario stating Santiago Nasar’s name as an opportunity for readers to interpret this statement the way they would like.

Regardless of whether Santiago Nasar truly took Angela Vicario’s virginity or not, it is clear Marquez continues to incorporate information which makes readers become skeptical of Angela Vicario. For example, readers immediately understand the narrator of the story is extremely against the death of Santiago Nasar and the reason for which he died. Furthermore, Marquez incorporates quotes such as “He died without understanding his own death” (page 59) which makes readers question Angela Vicario even more. This is why some readers either understand Angela Vicario named Santiago Nasar due to the fact that she was afraid of the real culprit coming back to harm her and her family, or understand Angela Vicario is protecting the real culprit because she still has feelings for him. Marquez leaves it for the readers to interpret Angela Vicario’s motives behind lying and whether or not her statement is a symbol of weakness or courage.

Marquez clearly emphasizes the traditional characteristics of Angela Vicario. In chapter two, Marquez uses phrases Angela Vicario says such as “The only thing I prayed to god for was to give me the courage to kill myself. But he didn’t give it to me.” This quote is perfect evidence to show just how discomposed and unsettled Angela Vicario was at this stage in the novel because of her family forcing her to marry Bayardo San Román. However, she still respects her family’s decision which goes to show readers the low level of self worth she had. Furthermore, regardless of whether or not Santiago Nasar was the one who took Angela Vicario’s virginity, after her statement, Angela Vicario’s mother almost beat her to death and Angela Vicario does not resist her mother’s punishment. The fact that Angela Vicario just stands there letting her mother beat her is a sign of weakness. Here, Angela Vicario is clearly a traditional woman in Latin American culture.

In chapter four, the audience begins to see Angela Vicario from another perspective. On page 54, when talking about Angela Vicario, the narrator says “She was so mature and witty that it was difficult to believe that she was the same person. She had nothing in common with the person who'd been obliged to marry without love at the age of twenty.” Angela Vicario herself says  " I was no longer frightened, on the contrary: I felt as if the drowsiness of death had finally been lifted from me." On page 54, we also realise Angela Vicario finally sees her mother for who she truly is when she says: “In that smile, for the first time since her birth, Angela Vicario saw her as she was: a poor woman devoted to the cult of her defects." These quotes convey to the audience Angela Vicario has truly transformed herself. She is no longer a miserable woman who lets her mother walk all over her, but instead becomes more courageous by no longer being afraid and ashamed of the past.

The actions of Angela Vicario in chapter four are somewhat controversial. The controversy occurs on page 55 when Angela Vicario admits to falling in love with Bayardo San Román. One day, Angela Vicario sees Bayardo San Román in a hotel and since that day on, she becomes obsessed with him. She falls so deep in love that she writes Bayardo San Román over 2000 letters over the course of 17 years. Even though Angela Vicario never receives a single reply back, she doesn’t stop writing to him. On page 55, the narrator says “The only thing that didn't occur to her was to give up.” This can be interpreted as a sign of strength because even though she doesn’t receive a single letter back, she does not stop fighting for his love and for their relationship. Nevertheless, Angela Vicario writing these letters to Bayardo San Román can also be interpreted as a sign of weakness mainly because he never writes anything back to her. Marquez could have portrayed Angela Vicario as a woman who moved on with her life when the man she loved never wrote back to her. However, Marquez chooses to present Angela Vicario as reliant. This action could be understood as a sign of a traditional Latin American woman who is extremely dependent on a man and cannot manage without a “superior force.” In this case, Bayardo San Román.

To conclude, I believe Marquez portrays Angela Vicario as both a traditional and a progressive character, but more towards a progressive character. I believe regardless of the reason behind Angela Vicario stating Santiago Nasar’s name, Angela Vicario still starts off as a weak and fragile character but as time goes by, she transforms into much more of a progressive character for her time. This could be because I strongly value the fact that Angela Vicario chooses to distance herself from her mother and stops being ashamed of what happened to Angela Vicario. I also personally view her obsessive letter writing to Bayardo San Román as more of a sign of strength rather than weakness because I believe that the fact she never received a reply and continued to be loyal to him shows her patience. I overall admire her mental transformation and definitely believe Angela Vicario is more of a progressive character than a traditional character.

Shreya Sachdev