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Book Analysis

Symbolism of Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Roman’s Relationship - 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 Garcia Marquez explores many different themes and characters. Two of the main characters, Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Roman, appear to play a large role in the overall story. The following essay will examine and analyse the symbolism of Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Roman’s relationship in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. To give a little background of the overall setting: Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a novella set in Latin America. This novella revolves around the story of Santiago Nasar, a man that was murdered due to the fact that he took a woman’s virginity before her marriage. This woman, Angela Vicario, can be seen as both a progressive and a traditional character. The way readers view her is due to her encounters with Bayardo San Roman.

The affair between Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Roman starts off extremely unexpected. Gabriel Garcia Marquez portrays Bayardo San Roman as a wealthy and handsome man. One day, Bayardo San Roman spots Angela Vicario in town and right then there decides that she is the woman he is going to marry. Angela Vicario is ultimately forced by her entire family to marry Bayardo San Roman due to the fact that her family is blinded by how rich and handsome Bayardo San Roman is, ultimately believing that Bayardo San Roman will bring many benefits to the Vicario family. Despite the fact that Angela Vicario does not love this man and is extremely resistant to marry him, she decides to obey her family’s decision and accept what faith has in store for her. This act of obedience makes readers view Angela Vicario as a perfect symbol of a traditional Latin American woman, somebody that is weak and too afraid to say anything to stand up for herself. Furthermore, Bayardo San Roman is presented as a traditional Latin American man, somebody that is wealthy and charming, a symbol of a superior force.

As the novella progresses, we learn right before Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Roman’s wedding that Angela Vicario is not in fact a virgin. When Bayardo San Roman discovers that Angela Vicario has already lost her virginity to another man, he immediately calls off the wedding despite how smitten he appears to be. This event clearly states what is expected of a traditional Latin American woman and what a traditional symbolism appears to be like. No matter how in love Bayardo San Roman is with Angela Vicario, Bayardo San Roman cannot mentally forgive her. This is because a traditional Latin American relationship revolves around loyalty. Even though Angela Vicario did not have a say in the wedding, it is understood that when Bayardo San Roman picked her to be his wife, she immediately submits to him and becomes his property. Thus, she must oblige to him and be completely devoted to him. This is why Bayardo San Roman cannot forgive Angela Vicario once he finds out that Angela Vicario is not a virgin.

In chapter four, events seem to change. We learn that after so many years, Angela Vicario herself actually ends up falling in love with Bayardo San Roman. On page 54, the narrator informs readers that one day Angela Vicario sees Bayardo San Roman stepping into an elevator at Hotel Del Puerto, and since that day she becomes obsessed with him. As the narrator states on page 54: “Angela Vicario turned her head with a last breath and watched him pass by without seeing her and saw him go out of the hotel.” and page 55: “ "I went crazy over him," she told me, "out of my mind." She only had to close her eyes to see him, she heard him breathing in the sea, the blaze of his body in bed would awaken her at midnight.” Angela Vicario falls so deeply in love with Bayardo San Roman that she ends up writing him over 2000 letters over the course of 17 years. Despite never receiving a single reply, Angela Vicario does not stop writing to him. On page 56, we learn that Angela Vicario sometimes didn’t even know what to say in her letters. As the narrator says: “She wrote a weekly letter for over half a lifetime. "Sometimes I couldn't think of what to say," she told me, dying with laughter, "but it was enough for me to know that he was getting them." At first they were a fiancee's notes, then they were little messages from a secret lover, perfumed cards from a furtive sweetheart, business papers, love documents, and lastly they were indignant letters of an abandoned wife who invented cruel illnesses to make him return. One night, in a good mood, she spilled the inkwell over the finished letter and instead of tearing it up she added a postscript: "As proof of my love I send you my tears." On occasion, tired of weeping, she would make fun of her own madness. Six times the post-mistresses were changed and six times she wore their complicity. The only thing that didn't occur to her was to give up. Nevertheless, he seemed insensible to her delirium; it was like writing to nobody. “

Angela Vicario writing these letters to Bayardo San Roman can also be interpreted as a sign of weakness mainly because he never writes anything back to her. Gabriel Garcia Marquez could have portrayed Angela Vicario as a woman that moved on with her life when the man she loved never wrote back to her. However, Gabriel Garcia 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 Roman. This is why Angela Vicario writing these letters to Bayardo San Roman is an event that is debated and is open to interpretation by readers.

Eventually, readers do find out that Bayardo San Roman did indeed return back to her which is clear proof that those letters did have a direct impact on Bayardo San Roman. The interesting thing we learn is that Bayardo San Roman never actually reads any of the letters that Angela Vicario writes to him. When he returns to her, he brings a suitcase with all two thousand letters all tied up the same way as they were sent. When he returns, he simply just says: “Well, here I am.” From this point on, that is all the readers understand about the relationship between Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Roman. There is no proof that Angela Vicario continued to stay on with Bayardo San Roman after finding out that Bayardo San Roman never opened any of her letters, but the fact that she seemed fine with not getting a reply for 17 years gives the readers enough reassurance to know that Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Roman were now together, especially after the years of devotion and commitment that Angela Vicario gave to Bayardo San Roman.

It is interesting to analyse why exactly did Bayardo San Roman return back to Angela Vicario when he never actually read her letters or know what she was saying in them. It seems logical to think that the reason he returned to her was because he read how much she loved him and how much he meant to her which was the reason in which he returned to her, but once the readers find out that Bayardo San Roman never actually opened or read any of her letters, the question of what prompted Bayardo San Roman to not read the letters as well as actually return back to Angela Vicario comes into play.

The first theory that explores the reason behind Bayardo San Roman not reading Angela Vicario’s letters is the theory that Bayardo San Roman was still heartbroken when he found out that Angela Vicario was not a virgin and just could not bring himself to read her letters because that’s how disappointed and angry he was. He could not find the courage to read her letters and as the months passed on he still did not believe in her loyalty. However, as more and more years passed by, he realised he still loved Angela Vicario and now had faith in her devotion which is why he ultimately returned back to her.

The second theory that explores the reason behind Bayardo San Roman not reading Angela Vicario’s letters is the theory that Bayardo San Roman simply did not care about what the letters actually had to say. He valued the fact that Angela Vicario kept on sending him letters more than the actual content of the letters. Looking at Latin American culture, this theory makes sense. Bayardo San Roman refused to marry Angela Vicario once he found out that another man had taken Angela Vicario’s virginity which means that he couldn’t marry her knowing that she was not completely his and that he did not have complete ownership over her since she had been touched by another man. This means that Bayardo San Roman heavily values commitment and loyalty from the woman he chooses to marry. When Bayardo San Roman picked Angela Vicario to be his wife, he expected her to completely submit to him and let him be her safekeeper. Thus, the content of Angela Vicario’s letters does not actually matter to Bayardo San Roman, the fact that she keeps on writing and sending him letters matters much more to Bayardo San Roman because it symbolises her devotion, commitment and loyalty to him and reassures him that now she is all his. Of course, writing 2000 letters to somebody over the course of 17 years would give them the certainty that they are serious about them. Here, it is important to acknowledge that it is a possibility that Angela Vicario was aware of the fact that Bayardo San Roman wanted a devoted wife, which prompted her to write the letters because she knew it was the way to get him to return to her. On page 56, she even states that she did not actually care about what she wrote in the letters and instead only cared about the fact that he was getting them. Despite the fact that many people perhaps looked down on the fact that Angela Vicario was so reliant on a man during such a long period of time, and perhaps called her ritual of writing shameful and stupid because as Angela Vicario says herself: “It was like writing to nobody.” She does in the end get what she wants. She is able to psychologically understand what Bayardo San Roman expects of a woman and become that exact representation of what he wants. Angela Vicario’s ritual of writing is far more impressive than anything else.

The third theory that discusses why Bayardo San Roman returned back to Angela Vicario is because of his appearance in chapter four when he shows up in front of her home. In chapter four, Bayardo San Roman is described to be bald and fat: somebody that isn’t attractive and thus could signify that after so many years, Bayardo San Roman still had not found anybody he loved as much as he loved Angela Vicario. He was quite old now and it is possible that he was tired from being alone and without a woman. Clearly he still loved Angela Vicario and decided to forgive her and return back to her. It is highly likely that he still loved Angela Vicario and did not just return back to her because he couldn’t find anybody else, this is because in chapter two, we are introduced to Bayardo San Roman as somebody that’s extremely powerful and doesn’t take no for an answer. He is not the type of man that is afraid or tired of being alone as Latin American men are portrayed as being independent and powerful.

To conclude, I believe that the main symbolism of Bayardo San Roman and Angela Vicario’s relationship is what is typically expected from a traditional Latin American couple. As mentioned previously, Bayardo San Roman leaves Angela Vicario due to the fact that she is not as pure as he originally thought she was. In other words, she is not loyal to him and he does not have the reassurance that she has completely submitted to him yet. This is what prompts Bayardo San Roman to leave. However, after Angela Vicario writes Bayardo San Roman over 2000 letters over the course of 17 years, this is what gives Bayardo San Roman the reassurance that now Angela Vicario has submitted to him and she is all his. The reason he returns back to her is due to Angela Vicario’s perfect letter writing execution of perseverance, devotion and loyalty.

Shreya Sachdev