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Book Analysis

Narrative Structure In "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" - 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 fantastic novella, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez follows a very specific structure. The order of the chapters appears to be quite jumbled and disorganized. For example, the first chapter starts off by telling the reader that Santiago Nasar is going to die and lets the reader know the narrator’s own perspective on Santiago. The second chapter discusses how Bayardo San Roman and Angela meet, as well as their contradicting feelings for each other. The third chapter talks about the Vicario brothers entire plan to kill Santiago. The fourth chapter goes back to the relationship between Bayardo San Roman and Angela and begins to describe Angela’s obsessive letter writing to Bayardo San Roman. Finally, the fifth chapter explains the way the narrator interviewed the different townspeople and how complicated Santiago Nasar’s death is to piece together from so many different viewpoints.  

Gabriel Garcia Marquez creates this structure for a very enthralling reason. The entire novella revolves around the way in which people in the story remember certain events. A clear indication of this flawed memory is weather. Some people remember that it was raining that day, whereas other people remember that it was bright and sunny. For example, on page 5 of the novella, Victoria Guzman states that she was sure it wasn’t raining that day, or during the whole month of February. However, on page 33, Colonel Lazaro says “I can remember with certainty that it was almost five-o'clock and it was beginning to rain.” Reading about these different opinions in the story convey the reader with confusion, unreliability and doubt.

This novella discusses to what extent we can rely on memory as a way of knowing as well as to what extent we can rely on faith as a way of knowing since throughout this novella, we only hear the narrator’s point of view. The narrator is somebody who we are barely introduced to and only know that he is completely against Santiago Nasar being murdered since he is a strong believer of his innocence regarding Angela Vicario’s virginity. As the townspeople rely on memory to help them connect the dots concerning the murder of Santiago Nasar, the narrator relies on the faith of the townspeople’s statements to help him piece together the events of the murder, as well as his own memory. Furthermore, the audience has no choice but to rely on faith as well, both faiths of the narrator’s point of view as well as the faith of the townspeople.

Structuring the novella in such a bizarre and shambolic manner helps convey the message that everything in the story is extremely convoluted and intricate. All the events surrounding Santiago Nasar are so undependable and everybody has a different view on a certain event that occurred. At the end of the novella, the reader is still left with an unanswered question; Is Santiago Nasar innocent or guilty? An intrigued and attracted reader can become very frustrated at all these cliffhangers which naturally make the reader even more muddled. In context, the structure of the novella can be portrayed as tangled and addled because it is symbolic of just how confusing and strenuous it is to piece together Santiago’s death since there is no direct proof of any event.

To conclude, if Gabriel Garcia Marquez had structured the novella in order of the events of the time, first with the love story between Angela and Bayardo and then the Vicario brothers entire plan to kill Santiago, then the death of Santiago Nasar and finally the narrator interviewing the townspeople, perhaps the entire situation regarding Santiago Nasar’s death would not transfer such a heavy load of perplexity and bewilderment to me. Gabriel Garcia Marquez implements debatable philosophical questions throughout his novella and truly makes me ask myself “How do I know this is true?” The unmethodical and haphazard structure of this novella successfully makes me extremely flummoxed, which again is a direct correlation and testament to the narrator’s current emotional state. The nonlinear structure of repetition enables me to have more appreciation and respect for the hard work that the narrator is doing to join all the events related to Santiago Nasar’s death. In other words, the structure makes me emphasize more with the narrator and lets me know that there is a direct correlation and symbolism between the confusing structure and the confusing and skeptical stories and opinions regarding Santiago Nasar’s death.

Shreya Sachdev