Chronicle of a Death Foretold

by Gabriel García Márquez

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What is the social significance of virginity in Chronicle of a Death Foretold?

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The need for Angela Vicario to be a virgin and the social importance placed on virginity are what motivate Angela's brothers to slay the innocent Santiago Nasar. Angela marries Bayardo San Román, though she is not in love with him, and her husband then finds out she is not a virgin and returns her to her mother's house. Her family is shamed by this situation, as Bayardo comes from a wealthy family and promises a better life for Angela. In addition, a woman's virginity is, according to the societal standards of that time and place, the gift she gives her husband, as he must be sure of the paternity of his children. Because she is not a virgin, Angela claims that she was raped by Santiago Nasar, whom her brothers kill. Her lie is an attempt to save face, as she hopes to regain her husband and her reputation. The need for brides to be virgins is what sets the entire calamitous set of events in the book in motion.

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Virginity is considered extremely important for both female and family honor. The best example of this is the deception that Angela Vicario engages in when she marries Bayardo. Angela wear the veil and orange blossoms that signify purity, even though she is not a virgin. She then listens to her friends and tries to trick Bayardo on their wedding night.

The lengths she is willing to go to show that she is a virgin, combined with her friends' knowledge of the issue and willingness to advise her to lie, show the social significance of virginity in Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

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