The novella Chronicle of a Death Foretold was written and published by Gabriel Garcia Márquez in 1981. The titular death is that of Santiago Nasar. In the beginning of the novel, the narrator introduces readers to Nasar on the morning of the man’s murder. The sound of a steamboat whistle awakens the household and alerts the residents of the city to the arrival of the bishop, Father Carmen Amador. Santiago Nasar leaves the house through the front door, as he always does when he is dressed for special occasions. He walks to the docks to meet the bishop. Meanwhile, Pedro Vicario and Pablo Vicario are likewise dressed in fine clothes. They wait at the only shop open at that early hour. Clasped at their sides are knives concealed in pages of newspaper.
Santiago Nasar steps onto the docks, where many other people have amassed. The other residents of the city are aware of the impending danger. The narrator reveals that Santiago is in danger because a bride from the day before, Angela Vicario, was returned to her parents’ home due to claims from Bayardo San Roman, the bridegroom, that Angela was not a virgin. At this point, the narrator does not specify what Santiago’s involvement was in the preceding day’s situation. In chapter 2, the narrator provides a flashback in which Angela reveals on her wedding night that Santiago Nasar was responsible for taking her virginity. This revelation then provides the motive for the Vicario brothers’ actions.
In chapter 3, the narrator continues a description of events from the night before up to the present morning. After Angela Vicario has pointed to Santiago Nasar as the culprit, the Vicario brothers arm themselves with knives and walk to the meat market to have these knives sharpened. The Vicario brothers tell other villagers of their murderous intentions, but many people do not take the brothers seriously, as they are known to be morally upstanding people. Rumors of the brothers’ plan eventually reach Colonel Lazaro Aponte, who is exhausted from stopping fights between drunken partygoers from the night before. Colonel Aponte simply removes the knives from the brothers’ possession and sends the men on their way. The Vicario brothers return home and rearm themselves with two additional knives. These are the knives they are holding in chapter 1.
In chapter 4, the narrator skips ahead to the events following the murder of Santiago Nasar. As the doctor was not present in the village, the mayor requires Father Carmen Amado to conduct the autopsy at a local school. The Vicario brothers are quickly arrested and held in a local prison before being transferred to a larger prison in a city many miles away. In chapter 5, the narrator finally reveals the events of the murder itself. Several villagers attempt to warn others of the Vicario brothers’ plans, including Colonel Aponte, who initially disregards these concerns, as he is in possession of the brothers’ original knives.
In the meantime, Santiago Nasar has arrived at the house of his fiancée, Flora Miguel. By now, Santiago’s fiancée has heard the rumors that there was once a romance between Santiago and Angela Vicario. Flora Miguel returns Santiago’s love letters and angrily declares that she hopes he is murdered. Flora Miguel locks her bedroom door to prevent Santiago from following her. In his desperation, Santiago hammers on the door with his fist. The commotion awakens the members of the household, including Flora’s father, who attempts to warn Santiago that the Vicario brothers plan to kill the young man. Santiago acts dismissively toward the older man and leaves the house. On his way to his own home, Santiago receives a warning from yet another villager that the Vicario brothers are near. Santiago attempts to run the final distance to his family’s home, but the Vicario brothers have caught up to him by now and begin to stab the lone man. Santiago struggles to get away from the brothers but is mortally wounded and collapses over the threshold of the Nasar family home.