Chronicle of a Death Foretold

by Gabriel García Márquez

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I need help with an analysis of a particular passage in Chronicle of a Death Foretold: Note: Passage takes place on the night of the wedding, and Angela confesses that Santiago Nasar was her "secret" lover. The twins returned home a short time before three, urgently summoned by their mother. They found Angela Vicario lying face down on the dining room couch, her face all bruised, but she’d stopped crying. "I was no longer frightened," she told me. "On the contrary: I felt as if the drowsiness of death had finally been lifted from me, and the only thing I wanted was for it all to be over quickly so I could flop down and go to sleep." Pedro Vicario, the more forceful of the brothers, picked her up by the waist and sat her on the dining room table. "All right, girl," he said to her, trembling with rage, "tell us who it was." 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. "Santiago Nasar," she said. How do language imagery, organization of ideas, and stylistic and thematic aspects work in the passage?

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In this passage, Angela Vicario tells her brothers that Santiago Nasar was the person who violated her before her wedding. The passage presents the revelation of Nasar's name almost as if it causes Angela's resurrection from the dead. 

At the beginning of the passage, Angela is badly beaten, and she is lying on the couch. She later says that "the drowsiness of death had finally been lifted from me," an image that creates the idea that she has reached or almost reached the point of death and is then reborn when she gives her brothers Nasar's name. 

To find the name, she "looked for it in the shadows," conveying the image of her searching the darkness of her own soul to find a name that will satisfy her incensed brothers. Using metaphorical language, Angela's production of Nasar's name is compared to a "well-aimed dart," conveying the idea that she knows that Nasar's name will satisfy her brothers and also inflict damage on Nasar. However, she is also a victim, like Nasar, as she knows that she has no free will to tell her brothers the truth. She is compared to "a butterfly with no will whose sentence has always been written." In other words, she has little control over her own fate and tells her brother a lie to protect her own fragile life.

This passage is organized so that Angela's metaphorical resurrection occurs when she reveals the name of her violator. The beginning of the passage contains the fury of the brothers, and then it moves on to Angela's emergence from near-death to life with the lie that sacrifices Nasar. 

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This passage from Chronicle of a Death Foretold has the feel of a nasty police interrogation--the kind that isn't supposed to exist. 

Angela is bruised and can think of nothing but sleep, but isn't allowed to sleep.  The chief investigator, the forceful one, arrives and picks her up by the waist and sets her on the table.  Trembling with rage, he orders her to confess.  The accused says whatever will end the interrogation and allow her to get some sleep. 

And in fact the results of this interrogation are accepted much as the results of a police investigation--as accurate and binding.  No further attempt at gathering evidence is performed.  Angela's words end the investigation, and begin the sentencing and execution.

The narrator interprets what he knows of her confession and relates that interpretation by using a metaphor.  She looks for one name that will work among many and speaks the first name she thinks of.  By doing so, she pins Nasur to the wall like a collected butterfly.

The metaphor presents the image of a butterfly pinned to the wall, wings spread, and suggests, then, Nasur pinned to the wall with darts, arms spread--in the posture of the crucified Christ.  Thus, the metaphor creates images that then create a biblical allusion: that of the crucified savior, or in this case, the crucified scapegoat.  As Christ suffered for the sins of humanity, Nasur will suffer for the sins of Angela. 

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