How are the themes of machismo and braggadocio portrayed in Chronicles of a Death Foretold?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Chronicle of a Death Foretold is essentially a tale about the influence of gender roles in the everyday lives of the Vicario family. The family, although fictional, does depict openly the importance of maintaining the traditions and idiosyncrasies of the a Spanish and Catholic culture: A culture that maintains that women must be virgins until marriage, that men are the actual heads of the family, that men are to have priority over women, and a woman must represent a role no different than that of the Virgin Mary: Nurturer, Supporter, Mother, Wife.

To the modern reader this lifestyle may look primitive and almost fundamentalist to a point. Yet, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's society is one where machismo is not a sign of chauvinism, but a character trait that describes men who are willing to protect and fight for their territory. Women are part of their territory. This is why the Vicario twins are seen by the local priest, as well as by many in their community as heroes for the murder of Santiago.

The use of machismo and the bragadoccio found in the twins is, therefore, what Garcia Marquez uses to color the everyday atmopshere and personality of the Vicario clan. Moreover, machismo is also rampant in the community: A "real" man, in their opinion, stops at NOTHING to defend the honor of a woman, especially if it is a member of their family. The death of Santiago, as morbid and sick as it is, still means nothing to many people only because they consider it an act of defense: The defense of a woman's honor.

In all, machismo dominates the story as a catalyst for most every action. It also reduces the death of Santiago to an excuse for the sake of defending a woman's honor. Yet, it also reduces the Vicario family to a group of wild and senseless people whose so-called traditional values hide greater and darker truths about their true natures.



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