The role of pride in “Chronicles of A Death Foretold” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez has multiple facets which create a deeply embellished and distorted image of power and defiance in the minds of many. Marquez creates a universe that mirrors the society and individual behaviours in a specific environment that can be anyway extrapolated both in time and location.
Such beliefs and feelings and even law regulations towards such beliefs and feelings were not yet over and are not yet over in some countries. For these reasons the novel is still very actual and it has had considerable success while being published in 1981. The reader is able to understand and reflect upon each character’s emotions and sentiments that are transmitted through the events and the development of the novel. Not a secondary message of story, originated by the same routes, is the final reconciliation between Angela Vicario and the killer of Santiago, Bayardo San Roman.
Marquez’s disordered storytelling is quite unique to this story. His non-chronological order is unorthodox but drives the reader to focus not the destination (the murder) but the journey to it. The term “Foretold” utilised by the writer in the title is somehow already suggesting that, according to the given “environment”, there was no way-out from the Santiago Nazar’s inevitable fate that each actor of the story was building up with his own position in the community, individual past, believes, image and actions.
Social culture, individual nature and distorted sense of “honor” (pride) have the main lead roles that develops and characterises the different players and drive to the tragic conclusion. The responsibility of the occurred and the death of Santiago is charged, by the writer, not only to the killers but to all and every member of the community and all main characters of the novel. Nobody is innocent ! Not even the victim.
The “pride” to which the writer is referring to, is nothing else than the “Honor Killing” that has deep routes in some community culture (still) and even law applications.
Generally the victim is the women that is killed because she was unfaithful and has ‘brought shame and dishonour upon the family, or has violated the principles of the community or the religion’. So we are still speaking about “pride”! Just about the concrete motivation from which the novel is taking it’s its start is that Angela is not a virgin anymore when she marries Bayardo.
It is a very actual motivation for killing still in many societies : Central to the code of honor, in many societies, is a woman’s virginity , which must be preserved until marriage. Suzanne Ruggi, a Middle East journalist, writes, ‘A woman’s virginity is the property of the men around her, first her father, later a gift for her husband”. – Note that in Italy, till 1981 the killing of an unfaithful woman or of his lover was subject to a specific law that was drastically limiting the penalties for this category of homicide. So the “pride” of Bayardo and of Angela’s family is deeply hurt in front of the community and has to be avenged!
During the discovery of Angela having lost her virginity her brothers now “trembling with rage” demand the name of the one that is the culprit. The implications of the Vicario brothers trembling with rage towards the culprit and not placing any emotional feelings of a family to their younger sister depicts the emotional reality of Angela and her brothers.
The most important occurrence at the moment for them being to know the culprit (and not about Angela herself) depicting a vivid and cruel reality of the weight of pride and most importantly the reputation of the family. In the culture of the town in which the narrative takes place, pride is taken very seriously. Nobody in the novel ever questions any action that is taken to preserve someone’s “honor”, since it is commonly believed to be a fundamental moral trait that is vital to keep intact. A person without pride is an outcast in the community. Such a reality can also be described as restricting and oppressing in a way as it defines how and in what way should one act in the community.
As this is the actual local universe of the real world, than the murder of Santiago and the emotional believes of the brothers can be fully explained and they can also be even relieved of their crime as it was the communal pressure around them and their own culture that forced them to take the “necessary” actions to protect their “honor’, pride and reputation.
All of the characters in the novel are strongly influenced by this powerful construction of honor, pride and reputation. The defense of this ideal is directly responsible for Santiago Nasar’s murder. The Vicario brothers kill Santiago in order to ‘restore the virginity’ of their sister and therefore the position of the family within the society. Angela dishonours herself and her family by marrying when she already had an unconfessed sexual relationship with another man.
In order for this wrong to be righted, her brothers must kill Santiago, the man who supposedly took her virginity. Though a few people in the community, like Clothilde Armenta and Yamil Shaium, try -very weakly- to prevent the death from occurring, most people turn their backs to the case, because they believed that the severity of the crime deserved a cruel punishment. Death was considered a reasonable retribution for the crime of taking a girl’s virginity out from the sacraments. This indicates how much criminalised in the mentality of the people it was for a women to have a sexual relationship before the marriage that was considered the only decent door to enter, in a honourable way, in the community.
Quite interesting -again the great ability of the writer in the introspection of the characters- the reaction of Angela in development of the drama where, let’s not forget, she has the role of “Elena” in the Trojan war : at the end she falls in love with Bayardo. We can just guess : because he was ‘behaving as a real man’ ? Because he is the only one that, according to the rules, can “restore” her prides and give her back to the community in a honourable “shape” ? To the reader Marquez is endorsing its own free interpretation.