Culture is so powerful that it has the ability to push us around, influence our decisions, control our likes and dislikes, and so much more and many times we don’t even recognize it. It is embedded deep in the brains of the members of society, from upbringing, experiences, and other surrounding peers. But how susceptible are you to engage in physical violence, such as punches, kicking, hitting, and how does that connect back to our cultural mindset which often tends to lead our decision-making thoughts and processes? There are multiple factors that can trigger our requirement to fight someone or something. A big influence is our culture in which we are surrounded in. Our cultural environment can influence how likely we are to resort to physical violence when in such a situation, evident in chronicles of a death foretold when the Vicario twins decide to murder Santiago and when Purisima del Carmen beats her daughter, Angela Vicario.
The previously practiced cultural norms are the actions that stay with us and influence our choices when in any given situation. The Vicario twins murdered Santiago in order to protect their family’s honour, but one might wonder how they came to the conclusion that physical violence, in the form of murder, was the correct and most efficient way to eliminate the threat that seemed to have caused the problem. This action could be encouraged by the practices of earlier generations that are brought forward. Since the book was set in 1950 it can be inferred that revenge often took the form of physical action onto another person, it was part of the cultural norm to do so and therefore this attribute was what encouraged the Vicario twins to act in such a way. At the end of chapter two it is seen that the Vicario twins are on trial after the murder. They admit that they were the ones that took Santiago’s life, but they attempt to justify their recently committed sin. They believe, as men of the Vicario family, it is in fact their duty to protect the honour of their household. They found their justice through the form of physical revenge which Pedro Vicario insists is no sin if committed for the sake of honour. Pedro attests that: “‘We killed him openly,’ Pedro Vicario said, ‘but we’re innocent’ ‘Perhaps before God,’ said Father Amador. ‘Before God and before men,’ Pablo Vicario said. ‘It was a matter of honour’” (Marquez 49).
In the town of Sucre, it is celebrated to see a man taking revenge if their family’s honour has been questioned. Due to the already set cultural norms, the Vicario twins knew that it was their responsibility to uphold and defend their sister and family. After the arrest, the Vicario twins justified their actions by simply saying it was the duty of a man which they had no option but to fulfill. Despite the obvious punishment set for crimes such as this one there was still some confusion between the citizens about whether or not the actions of the brothers could have been justified or not. The culturally set mindset of the townsfolk supports the fact that the previous practices by older generations stick with later generations which leads us to take specific actions when having a choice. This is shown when the twins seemed to have decided without hesitation what they were going to do to Santiago displaying how this action of physical violence was common to them. In Chronicle of a Death Foretold the Vicario brothers are accustomed to this reoccurring process of previously set cultural norms and therefore easily resorted to murder as the most efficient and effective way to get their point across and take back their honour.
The act of physical violence is often seen to be everlasting, a strong way to engrave a thought into someone’s mind or thoughts. In the 20th century, the time period of this novel, physical violence was often used when a child was acting up and a parent needed to discipline him/her. It was seen as an efficient and effective way to keep the respect and fear as a parent. This way the child would remember the pain from the beating before thinking of committing the same mistake again. An example of this is evident in chapter two on the night after the wedding when Pura Vicario, Angela’s mother, is awakened by three knocks at her door. She answers to Bayardo San Roman and Angela only to find out that her daughter is not a virgin. For the next two hours Pura silently beats Angela. She brings Angela to the verge of death without even waking her husband, “Only Pura Vicario knew what she did during the next two hours, and she went to her grave with her secret: ‘The only thing I can remember is that she was holding me by the hair with one hand and beating me with the other’ … They found Angela Vicario lying face down on the dining room couch, her face all bruised” (Marquez 46, 47).
The act of beating your children was familiar to the adults in the time frame of this book. Back then we didn’t often worry or think about the activity we were engaged in because it was thought that the previous generations, our elders, were wiser than us therefore what they did and thought must have been right. There weren’t many objections whereas now we have opened up our thoughts on a more significant level. Pura was easily able to raise her hand in a violent manner against Angela because her cultural background possibly may have promoted this action. The things she was told, experienced, or saw as a child stuck with her throughout her life. This is many times referred to as the cultural bias most of us inhibit. Her past environment shaped her perspective which played a role when she was deciding what to do. Her daughter had lost her virginity before marriage, which was an unforgivable sin. Pura’s thought process involved those memories of her childhood in order to come to an action plan on how to deal with her disgraceful child. She used the same method her parents would have used in her action against her daughter in the novel because based on her previous experience the beatings her elders had used helped turn Pura into a righteous woman. Pura’s character displays how heavy the cultural bias can be and how much it can affect families through generations.
The physical act of violence can be influenced greatly by cultural norms. These norms are produced through the upbringings and experiences which are passed on through multiple generations as they are used. This is prevalent in the novel when the Vicario twins murder Santiago out of fear of losing their honour and when Pura Vicario beats her daughter so that Angela can stop bringing shame upon their name. It may seem like there have been great advancements from the earlier days in regards to the physical violence aspect, which there has, but it is still quite similar today. In today’s world there is still a need to create fear in order to keep a child away from doing wrong things. Such as creating detentions, or “time out” when a child might not be following the rules. Also, revenge is often sought, although not as gruesome as the murder of Santiago, when someone offends us. Such as defeating another specific player in a racing game if they bumped or threw your character off track in any part of the course. It may not be as straightforward to the eye, but culturally influenced physical violence could be found then, and can be found even now.