Through the utilization of the repetition of honour, the situational irony of love, and the stereotypes of gender roles in society—that men are dominant while women are seen as weak and submissive—Marquéz unveils the global issue of gender inequality and it’s correlation with honour in a society (the machismo and marianismo roles of men and women respectively and its connection to one’s honour in a society). In the town, there is the concept of machismo, as men are expected to have aggressive behavior and in an honourable manner. Women are the property of men, as their purity is found in their virginity—not in their actions. Marquez is criticizing the double standard of how men are rewarded in society for seeking out extramarital adventure, being dominant, and having virility, whereas women are shunned and punished for such acts. Women, on the other hand, are rewarded for being loyal, subservient, and a virgin.
Throughout the passage, Marquez uses the repetition of honour to expose the inequality in the roles of men versus the roles of women. Marquez invariably compares the status of women to the honour they must uphold within their society. Even just two months before Angela got married to Bayardo, Pura and “the blind father accompanied her to watch over her honour”. The concept of guarding her chastity is so important within this town that Angela is required to have a blind father as a chaperone. Marquez is ridiculing the preconception of pre-marital virginity by making a blind man “watch” over Angela’s virginity which is absurd. Furthermore, when Angela was interviewed by the narrator, she admits that the “only thing [she] prayed to God for was to give [her] the courage to kill [herself]”. Angela’s reaction to the fact that she’s getting married without being a virgin shows that society values the virginity of a woman over her life. Playing into the marianismo role placed on women’s shoulders is key to living in this kind of society and by losing it, she believes she should’ve killed herself, which in this society, is basically equivalent to the loss of virginity as a woman.
Marquez also utilizes the situational irony of love to further explicate his problem with the inequality of roles between men and women in society. After getting advice from her two confidantes, she understands that marriage is a symbol of honour with the narrator claiming “she got married with that illusion”. Angela didn’t marry Bayardo out of love for him, but rather to maintain the honour she contributes to the family name. Marquez is criticizing the fact that women are obligated to marry men of wealth and power to keep a higher reputation within society. Throughout the entirety of the book, Marquez consistently utilizes false love and marriage to convey his point, as shown through the various women of the town. Shown through the Vicario sisters and her mother, Pura, they’ve all succumb to the normalities of their town, thus fitting into the marianismo role near flawlessly. Pura goes as far as to beat Angela later in the story for simply not being pure, dishonouring the family and falling out of the role placed upon her. Love doesn’t exist in this town. It’s replaced by the demand for honour and a requirement to fit the machismo and marianismo functions of the culture during the 1950s.
Another key device Marquez employs is the stereotypes of gender roles in society. Angela’s two confidantes, after reassuring her that “they [are] experts in men’s tricks,” teach “her to feign her lost possession” so Bayardo San Roman won’t notice her impurity. The fact that how to deceive one’s husband on the first night of marriage exists as such common knowledge among these women shows the severity of the stress of marianismo on women and reveals that they always have to find a way to work around the unfair limits placed upon them by society. Marquez is emphasizing the burdens women must persevere through to stay afloat in a society so strictly based on the gender inequalities of the mid-twentieth century. Shortly after this statement, her two confidantes claim they’re aiding in Angela’s preparation for the wedding so that “on the first morning as a newlywed she could display open under the sun in the courtyard of her house the linen sheet with a stain of honour”. Public opinion is far more important than the private truth in this town, as illustrated by the custom of hanging the bloody wedding sheets outside in the sun for all to see. Henceforth even in the unlikely event that her husband is perceptive enough to notice her lack of virginity, he won’t say anything for fear of public embarrassment, further emphasizing the gender role stereotypes and how living unlike your given role means dishonour in society.
All in all, Marquez utilizes various literary techniques to explicitly make a statement about how honour and the gender role stereotypes of society are nearly indifferent from one another as well as how they combine to create one abomination of inequality. He is devising a call to action for men and women to lessen their strict views on honour in order to generate a more equal society.