There is little attempt to represent the deep psychological dimensions of the characters, as has been prevalent in the novel in English since Henry James and Virginia Woolf. The characters are rather ingredients in Gabriel García Márquez’s so-called Magical Realism, a Latin American offshoot of Surrealism, in which the fantastic is ordinary. These characters are like flowers in a small garden so exotic that the observer is astonished almost beyond understanding; they are more the inhabitants of folktale, myth, and legend, than of the twentieth century.
Even the narrator remains oddly unknowable, though he is clearly García Márquez’s fictive alter ego (he tells how he proposed to his wife Mercedes, for example, and mentions her sister and aunt by name). He is a sort of wide-eyed, baffled observer, a student visiting home during the period of the novel, who simply likes his fellow villagers so much that he cannot find any wickedness in them—the forgivable sins of lust and drunkenness, perhaps, but not the malice that could produce the unthinkable murder of one of their own citizens in broad daylight, with practically the whole village as witnesses.
What the characters lack in psychological shading, they make up for in abundance of color. The groom Bayardo San Román arrived in town with silver decorating his saddlebags, belt, and boots, looking for someone to marry. He had “the waist of a novice bullfighter, golden eyes, and a skin slowly roasted by saltpeter.” Magdelena Oliver could not take her eyes off him and told the narrator that she “could have buttered him and eaten him alive.” He could swim faster, drink longer, and fight better than any man in town, and was far richer than any of them; every woman in town would have married him, except for the girl he wanted at first sight: Angela...
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Santiago Nasar (sahn-tee-AH-goh nah-SAHR), a member of the Arab community, slim and pale, with dark curly hair. He is killed in front of his own house at the age of twenty-one. A handsome bachelor, he is described as having had a love for horses, falconry, and church pomp; his other characteristics included flirtatiousness, valor, merriness, peaceableness, and prudence. Normally dressed in khaki with riding boots, he donned unstarched white linen pants and shirts on special occasions. Inheritor of the Divine Face cattle ranch and a firearms enthusiast, he carried a .357 magnum with armored bullets as he traveled in the country. Although he is killed as the deflowerer of Angela Vicario, his innocent behavior up to the moment of his death suggests that he was wrongly accused of the act.
Angela Vicario (AHN-heh-lah vee-KAHR-ee-oh), the youngest and prettiest daughter of a poor family. She resists the prospect of marriage to Bayardo San Román and unsuccessfully attempts to pass as a virgin on their wedding night. After Bayardo takes her back home, she is beaten by her mother, Purísima (Pura) del Carmen Vicario. Questioned by her brothers, she names Santiago as the man responsible for deflowering her. In the aftermath of the murder, she grows from a hapless spirit to a mature and witty woman. Previously uninterested in Bayardo, she becomes obsessed with him and remains unmarried, writing hundreds of letters to him in the years after their separation.
Bayardo San Román
Bayardo San Román (bay-AHR-doh sahn rroh-MAHN), who captures the imagination of the villagers when he arrives in town wearing clothing ornamented with silver. About thirty years old, he has a slim waist, golden eyes, and tanned skin. A drinker, he seems to lack a...
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