The “chronicle” of the title is the attempt by the narrator to piece together events leading up to the murder of Santiago Nasar by Pedro and Pablo Vicario. He does so by drawing on his own memories as well as on the accounts of those who witnessed the murder and whom he sought out twenty-seven years after the event. Thus, the novel bears many of the trappings of a murder mystery, but it is hardly a conventional representative of that genre: The murderers had announced their intentions to everyone they met for hours before the event. What the narrator, and indeed all the characters need to learn, is how a murder so publicly announced could have occurred, with so many well-meaning people doing nothing to stop the Vicario brothers, who had little heart for carrying out the deed and who, by their open announcements, were in effect asking to be stopped.
As the novel begins, the narrator recounts Nasar’s waking about an hour before his death and telling his mother his dream of walking in a drizzle through a timber forest. Although she is a renowned interpreter of dreams, she fails to recognize the ominous foreboding of death. Her failure is the first of many to come, culminating in her barring the door through which Nasar is about to escape from his attackers, when she hears the crowd approaching at the end of the novel, thinking her son already safe inside the house.
The narrator’s reconstruction of the events of that morning is complicated...
(The entire section is 499 words.)