Chronicle of a Death Foretold

by Gabriel García Márquez

Start Free Trial

In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, what role does animal imagery play?

Expert Answers

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

Garcia Marquez uses animal imagery to highlight certain character traits. Santiago is young and naive, described by his friend as a falcon chasing a "warlike crane," the experienced prostitute Maria Alejandrina Cervantes. Santiago's friend warns him that his ill-advised pursuit of Maria can only lead to a lifetime of pain.

Animal imagery is also used to foreshadow the death of Santiago Nasar. On the day of his death, he wakes up, as he puts it, feeling "completely spattered with bird s***." Rabbits are used as ill omens throughout the story, and on the morning of Santiago's death Victoria Guzman treats the rabbits the way she'd like to treat him—removing their entrails and feeding them to the dogs. Surely enough, Santiago's grisly death reflects that of the rabbit, ending up with "all his intestines exploded out."

Then there are the dogs. When the Vicario brothers leave the pigsty with their murder weapons, the unwrapped knives, the dogs start making a huge noise. Their barking is a premonition of the terrible events that are about to follow. Also, the dogs become agitated by the smell of death after Santiago's body is laid out in the center of the living room. It's almost as if they're lamenting his death with their insistent howls.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The animal imagery seems to serve many different functions.  The dream bird and its shit tend to establish the tone of the work in the first paragraph and possibly foreshadow  the oblivious Santiago Nasar figuratively awakening and finding himself the object of the Vicario twins' knives. 

The slaughtered rabbits being fed to the dogs echo Santiago's autopsy in which the dogs are shot when they try to eat Santiago's intestines.  Again, the rabbits may be an example of foreshadowing as Santiago is repulsed when he sees what Victoria Guzman is doing to the rabbits, almost as if he has a premonition of what is in store for him.  Metaphorically, Victoria Guzman may be guilty of slaughtering Santiago as well.  Obviously upset with him for groping her daughter, Victoria has reason not to warn him of the Vicario twins' plot to kill him. 

In this way, the animals seem to establish the violent setting of blood and slaughter that culminate in Santiago's death.  He is viciously hacked by the same knives that the twins use to slaughter their pigs.  They also may serve to create some pathos for Santiago when we see the similiarities between the fate of his corpse and that of the rabbits. 


See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial