Chronicle of a Death Foretold

by Gabriel García Márquez
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What 20 line passage would be best to analyze about a female character?

A 20-line passage that is best to analyze about a female character is one about Victoria Guzman. The passage begins with Victoria seeing Santiago the day after the wedding and declaring “He always got up with the face of a bad night.” It ends with her calling him “a shit.” This section—which details Victoria disemboweling rabbits for lunch and defending her daughter against Santiago—can be analyzed to illustrate Victoria’s strength and use of power against male domination.

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In “Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” a 20-line passage that is best to analyze about a female character is a description of Victoria Guzman, the cook of Placida Linero and her son Santiago Nasar. Marquez details when Victoria witnesses Santiago on the morning after Angela and Bayardo San Roman’s wedding festivities. Rich in meaning, this scene begins with Victoria quartering rabbits for lunch and Santiago walking in.

“He always got up with the face of a bad night," Victoria Guzman recalled without affection. Divina Flor, her daughter, who was just coming into bloom, served Santiago Nasar a mug of mountain coffee with a shot of cane liquor, as on every Monday, to help him bear the burden of the night before. The enormous kitchen, with the whispers from the fire and the hens sleeping on their perches, was breathing stealthily. Santiago Nasar swallowed another aspirin and sat down to drink the mug of coffee in slow sips, thinking just as slowly, without taking his eyes off the two women who were disembowelling the rabbits on the stove. In spite of her age, Victoria Guzman was still in good shape. The girl, as yet a bit untamed, seemed overwhelmed by the drive of her glands. Santiago Nasar grabbed her by the wrist when she came to take the empty mug from him.

"The time has come for you to be tamed," he told her.
Victoria Guzman showed him the bloody knife.
"Let go of her, white man," she ordered him seriously. "You won't have a drink of that water as long as I'm alive."

She'd been seduced by Ibrahim Nasar in the fullness of her adolescence. She'd made love to him in secret for several years in the stables of the ranch, and he brought her to be a house servant when the affection was over. Divina Flor, who was the daughter of a more recent mate, knew that she was destined for Santiago Nasar's furtive bed, and that idea brought out a premature anxiety in her. "Another man like that hasn't ever been born again," she told me, fat and faded and surrounded by the children of other loves. "He was just like his father," Victoria Guzman answered her. "A shit."

The narrator reveals much about Victoria’s character, as well as the role of women in society, through these passages. As a domestic, Victoria is seemingly warm and nurturing in her warm and peaceful kitchen. Her nurturing nature is contrasted by the way emotionlessly disembowels rabbits and tosses their innards to the dogs. Also, she obviously bears no affection for Santiago and stands up to him defiantly to defend her daughter Divina. When Santiago grabs and threatens Divina, Victoria—“in good shape” despite her old age—wields a knife and tells him to leave her daughter alone.

Victoria has ample reason to resent Santiago and his family; he represents a domineering male figure luring a younger female before discarding her. Just as Santiago’s father seduced Victoria when she was a girl, Santiago is on track to entangle Divina. In this male-dominated society, it is acceptable for men to ravish girls and then leave them. Divina is entranced by Santiago, describing him as unlike any other man; Victoria sees right through his masculine allure and charm and compares Santiago to his father, who was “a shit.”

Despite being his servant, Victoria is clever and knows she can manipulate this master-servant relationship in her favor. Although Santiago depends on Victoria and Divina to serve him coffee, she can take it away if she feels necessary (as when she says, "You won't have a drink of that water as long as I'm alive.")

Right after this passage is a description of Santiago’s disgust and horror at the rabbits’s innards. Quite cunningly, Victoria uses her role as the cook in order to exact revenge directly on Santiago and indirectly on his father.

She had so much repressed rage the morning of the crime that she went on feeding the dogs with the insides of the other rabbits, just to embitter Santiago Nasar's breakfast.

Women in this society may seem helpless to men’s advances, but they wield power within their roles as females and servants.

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