Motives are the driving force of any human, and these motives persist to develop under circumstantial stress. Magical realism novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Marcia Marquez takes this notion into account throughout the plot development of the story. It is made obvious to the reader that certain motives are developed largely due to the circumstances the characters are faced with resulting in creation of a conflict but not a resolution. For example, with respect to the townspeople, economic and social circumstances pervade the society in which the general population resides in. Most are impoverished while Santiago Nasar remains privileged, maintaining a fortune among other intangible values bestowed upon him by his father. In this way, when Faustino Stanos heard of the Vicario brothers’ intentions, he inquired “… why they had to kill Santiago Nasar since there were so many other rich people who deserved to die first” (Marquez, 52).
Without any knowledge of the brothers’ motivations, a citizen automatically assumed the murder would be a form of taking a stance for social reform and call for anarchy. For this reason, it can be concluded that the circumstances of the time the public presided in motivates them to remain hushed when it comes to cautioning Nasar. Another critical piece of exposition that follows the model of circumstances founding a motive is derived from the proposal “that Angela Vicario was protecting someone who really loved her and she had chosen Santiago” (Marquez, 90), as the culprit for taking her purity. This idea proposed by the narrator suggests that this alleged character was the one who stole her virginity, not Nasar, but the circumstances would not permit both adultery and divorce. Furthermore, she had recently been heavily abused by her mother and as to appease her family “she looked for it [the name of who took her virginity], she found it at first sight among the many, many easily confused names” (Marquez, 47). To resolve her predicaments, Angela was motivated to pluck Santiago from her improvised reservoir of names.
With respect to the actual assassination of Santiago Nasar, two circumstances revolve around both the killing and conclusion made at the end of the novel, thus creating three underlying motives. First are the Vicario brothers, who were entrapped in the philosophy that “affairs of honors are sacred monopolies” (Marquez, 67), as this was what was perceived by the townspeople. With this impact, the brothers claim “it was a matter of honor” (Marquez, 49). This idea of preserving familial ties through an arbitrary term such as honor leads to the production of the main conflict, the murder of Santiago Nasar for violating said honor. The final circumstance in place is the bond shared between the narrator and Nasar. The narrator has been identified as a close companion of Nasar’s, whose death initiated a journey spent “trying to understand something of myself” (Marquez, 88), as a means for consolation for his loss. For this reason, the narrator can be seen as unreliable or biased, giving a perspective that may favor the idea that Nasar was never the one to blame for Angela’s virginity, ultimately leading to a lack of a conclusion at the end of the novel.
The narrator is unsure of Nasar’s ostensible misdeed, even prompting him to ask Angela if she was sure it was Nasar, “‘Don’t beat it to death cousin. It was him’” (Marquez, 90). The circumstances of his previous relationship with Nasar leads to an ill-defined recount and summation of Nasar’s death, empowered by obvious motivations to keep an ideology of perfection in the narrator’s mind. All in all, it can be well argued that the entire plot development of Chronicle of a Death Foretold is accredited to the circumstances provided and the motives that arise from it, from the exposition to the main dilemma and the eventual culmination.