Chronicle of a Death Foretold Questions and Answers
by Gabriel García Márquez

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In Chronicle Of A Death Foretold, what is the purpose and scope of literature in the culture of origin? To what extent does literature play a role in the text?

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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a novel that uses features from journalistic reporting. The narrator is trying to put together an account of what happened to Santiago Nasar 27 years after Nasar's death. The narrator's retelling is journalistic in form, as he begins the tale with the time Nasar had arisen that morning. However, the journalistic account becomes more novelistic and modern, as it features the strange dreams Nasar had had on the day he died, including his wondering through trees and being spattered with bird refuse. The narrator is able to access the innermost thoughts of Nasar, including that Nasar had woken up with a sediment of copper on his tongue. These are sentiments that a journalist could not access, so the journalistic account becomes literary in nature. The author implies that journalism always ventures into the land of fiction, and he establishes literature as the primary source of truth. Literature is more essential to culture than other forms of telling a story, including reporting.

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Natalie Saaris eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In referring to the culture of origin, I am unsure whether you are referencing the context in which this novel was published (Colombia 1981) or the fictional setting of the novel (a Colombian village). I can tell you that by the time Gabriel Garcia Marquez published this novel, he was a well-known and beloved author who had put Latin American literature "on the map" internationally. He would go on to win the Nobel Prize only one year after publishing this particular work. 

Concerning how literature plays a role in the text, you could look at the fact that storytelling is a central theme of the novel. The journalist who is piecing together the facts of this story is getting witness testimonials and realizing that human memory is highly fallible. The reports contradict one another and point to the fact that written accounts of human experience often obscure the way that reality is perceived by human beings. The official histories that we rely on to understand the past ignore the many versions of the truth that exist for the people who experience those events.

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