Chronicle of a Death Foretold

by Gabriel García Márquez
Start Free Trial

In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, who is responsible for Santiago Nasar’s death?

In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, several characters can be considered responsible for Santiago Nasar’s death. Angela Vicario's twin brothers, Pedro and Pablo, are literally responsible for his death, as they stab and disembowel him. Nasar also can be considered responsible for his own tragic demise. To lesser degrees, Bayardo San Roman, Angela, and Nasar’s mother are somewhat responsible for Nasar’s death.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, several people can be considered responsible for Santiago Nasar’s death. Angela Vicario's twin brothers, Pedro and Pablo, who gruesomely stab Nasar, are literally responsible for his death. Avenging the honor of their deflowered sister, they hunt down Nasar to kill him. After Angela is returned home the morning after her wedding like damaged goods, Pedro forces her to confess the identity of the man who defiled her: Nasar. Even though they celebrated their sister’s wedding with Nasar just hours earlier, they resolve to murder him. They even admit so during their trial:

“We killed him openly,” Pedro Vicario said, “but we're innocent.”

“Before God and before men,” Pablo Vicario said. “’t was a matter of honour.”

Although they repeatedly tell townspeople that they plan to kill Nasar—even sharpening their knives in the public square twice—no one takes them seriously except the mayor, who confiscates their first set of knives.

Pedro Vicario, according to his own declaration, was the one who made the decision to kill Santiago Nasar, and at first his brother only followed along. But he was also the one who considered his duty fulfilled when the mayor disarmed them, and then it was Pablo Vicario who assumed command.

Pablo grabs a second set of knives and drags Pedro “off almost by force in search of their sister's lost honour.” The twins end up carving Nasar “up like a pig” against his own front door, extensively slicing and disemboweling him.

Pablo Vicario gave him a horizontal slash on the stomach, and all his intestines exploded out. Pedro Vicario was about to do the same, but his wrist twisted with horror and he gave him a wild cut on the thigh.

Nasar, however, also can be considered responsible for his own death. After all, he preys on women shamelessly, especially those younger than him and/or of a lower social position. Opening the story with the epigraph “The pursuit of love is like falconry,” Marquez presents male-female relationships as a hunt involving predator and prey. Santiago behaves like a raptor; as a boy, he learned from his father “the mastery of high-flying birds of prey” and pursues women with predatory behavior. For example, Santiago assaults the cook’s young daughter Divina Flor by grabbing her wrist and telling her, “The time has come for you to be tamed.” Often, Divina cannot avoid his advances and “butcher hawk hand” when he corners her alone and grabs her “whole pussy.” Ironically, Nasar preys on women (especially virgins) but ultimately becomes preyed upon by two men for defiling a virgin.

Angela’s disgusted husband Bayardo San Roman can be considered another character responsible for Nasar’s death. After all, he is the catalyst for the story’s action; he rejects Angela when he discovers she is not a virgin on their wedding night and sends her back home in shame.

Angela herself exposes Nasar as her defiler. When Pedro forces her to confess,

She only took the time necessary to say the name. She looked for it in the shadows, she found it at first sight among the many, many easily confused names from this world and the other, and she nailed it to the wall with her well-aimed dart, like a butterfly with no will whose sentence has always been written.

Metaphorically, she drives the final nail in Nasar’s coffin by naming him, which spurs the twins on their murderous mission. Nasar become a helpless and weak hunted prey, like a butterfly. The male-dominated culture in which Angela lives also blames her for her actions that set off this chain of events; she

dared put on the veil and the orange blossoms without being a virgin would be interpreted afterwards as a profanation of the symbols of purity.

Finally, Nasar’s mother—Placida Linero—shuts her front door when she sees the twins with knives running toward her house. She does not see Nasar fleeing from the twins and locks the door, inadvertently preventing him from escaping from the knife-wielding twins. She unknowingly makes Nasar a sitting duck and thus can be seen as partly responsible for his death.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team