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The Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a novel written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It adopts a pseudo-journalistic approach in the explication of the story of how the two Vicario brothers murdered Santiago Nasar. Despite the story focusing principally on the death of Santiago Nasar, it is essential to note that there are various themes depicted in the novel; characterization also plays a significant role in understanding the story. One principal theme of the writing involves the roles of women in the novel.
The first duty of women in the novel is to respect the patriarchal nature of the society despite the fact that it oppressed them. Secondly, Marquez is sympathetic to the patriarchal subjugation of women in the novel and uses them to criticize the oppression of women. Also, women play the role of the voice of reason in the novel. This is depicted before the murder of Santiago by two significant women. Women also have been used to advance gender-politics being depicted as prostitutes in the novel. Lastly, females have been used to show the Foucauldian paradigm of power that was taking root in Latin society.
Inimitable and Multifaceted Gender Relations in the Functioning of Patriarchy
The first role of women in the novel is to embrace the patriarchal nature of the society despite all the humiliation it resulted in. Angela Vicario acts as a good example of how the novel depicts the theme of patriarchy and the oppression of women. Additionally, she can be utilized in exploring the complex links between class, violence, and gender. Notably, Angela’s situation raises the question regarding the position of women in the novel and class exploitation by the Christian value system (Rabassa).
This abounds from the fact that Bayardo was only interested in conquering a woman of his taste, which makes Angela the object of his sexual desire. Notably, Angela did not have any feelings towards Bayardo; this is where class, position, and wealth steps in the picture. Bayardo was able to get her because he was wealthy and provided Angela’s family with gifts and money. From the novel, it is deducted that Bayardo did not court Angela, but bewitched her family with his charm. This explains how the patriarchal society oppressed women as Angela was supposed to consent to her family’s decision regarding whom to marry.
Critique of the Male-Dominated Society
Marquez is sympathetic to the patriarchal subjugation of women and uses them to criticize the system. Santiago’s mother is a woman used to criticize the male-dominated society. It is depicted as if it was a custom for all people to assemble at the dock when Bishop arrives. However, Santiago’s mother christened Placida Linero is objecting to this culture. She refuses to be part of the assembly citing the fact that the Bishop will not get off the boat, but will only provide an obligatory blessing. Placido Linero considers this an uncouth gesture and comments that the Bishop hates their town (Márquez 8).
Notably, the Bishop represents power as the Church operates in collusion with the government while Placido’s comments represent the hypocrisy associated with such religious institutions as the church. Flora Miguel who is Santiago’s fiancée is also not present at the dock. This can be seen as her resistance to the institution that promoted her oppression through its values and system at the same time condemning her humiliation.
Nonsensical Violence Evident in the Novel
Thirdly, women have been used as the voice of reason in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. It can be concluded that the author was trying to provide an alternative to the nonsensical violence evident in the novel. The author utilized two significant women in advancing this point – Clotilde Armenta and Hortensia Borte. Clotilde Armenta abounds as a voice of reason as she pleads with the twins to halt the murder. This took place when Santiago passes by her shop. From the novel, she can be quoted citing the love of God as one of the reasons that should make the Vicario brothers spare Santiago’s life.
Additionally, she tries to lure them with their respect for God as a reason not to murder Santiago. She also makes an effort to ask Bedoya to warn Santiago of the impending attack. As if this is not enough, she also informs the authorities and the Bishop about the plot to kill Santiago (Márquez 55). She was instrumental in trying to stop the murder by holding Pedro Vicario by the collar to prevent him from advancing his revenge on Santiago.
Hortensia Borte also contributed to the theme of the voice of reason through her reaction regarding the murder. She was so disturbed by the two bloody knives that made her undergo a nervous breakdown. She was so disturbed by the scene that one day she ran naked into the street in protest of the murder. Santiago’s mother plays a significant role as a character of the voice of reason. She takes the initiative of locking the door after hearing the information and thinking that Santiago was inside. She was trying to prevent the occurrence of the murder (Rabassa). Clotilde also plays the role of a voice of reason that is depicted by her lamentation.
Foucauldian Paradigm of Power
Women have also been used in advancing the Foucauldian paradigm of power that was diffusing into the society. This abounds from the fact that those who are not in power can be seen as exercising power on a daily basis through their various resistances. This is shown in the way women in the novel adopted various strategies that can be considered discreet, direct, and indirect in their fight and subversion of the patriarchal order. For instance, the Vicario sisters resisted the patriarchal order of strict monitoring which they were raised in through their bonding. It can be deducted from the novel that they were close friends and went everywhere together (Márquez 33).
Additionally, they were instrumental in organizing dances for women and were pre-disposed in establishing intentions on the designs of men. Angela’s non-virgin status is her subversive attempt to break away from societal norms. This is evident because it is not clear whether Santiago was behind her non-virgin status or not. The tricks and advice that Angela receives from her friends also act as a form of resistance to break away from the patriarchal society. It can be concluded that women pretend to be living under patriarchal domination as their practices in the novel are perceived as deceptive.
Lastly, women have been used in advancing gender politics by depicting them as prostitutes. This is a score for the author as he appears to be sympathetic and critical to the exploitation of women. The author excels in this through the character of Maria Alejandrina Cervantes. Marqueze inverses the dominant stereotypes associated with prostitution and women that promote their further marginalization. It can be deducted that Maria takes the role of a mentor in the story (Rabassa). This can be understood from the narrator’s quote where he indicates that he was recovering in the apostolic lap of Maria.
However, the Latin American assertion of patriarchy has a different view regarding sex. It considers sex as a degenerative experience. Research indicates that even the church at that time accepted prostitution as a necessary evil.
In conclusion, Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a story that scores on many fronts when it comes to the characterization of women. The author explored various themes through the female characters who symbolize the voice of reason in the novel, the patriarchal nature of the early Latin society, oppressed women, and their resistance to the patriarchal subjugation. Various women have been used to advance these themes.
For instance, Clotilde was one of the characters portrayed as the voice of reason. She does everything within her capabilities to stop the Vicario brothers from murdering Santiago. Angela is used in depicting how females in a patriarchal society can be resistant to the oppressive rules of the system. She does this through her non-virgin status which we are not told who was responsible for.
This is one of the reasons why Angela Vicario arises as to the most powerful woman in the story as she violated what many women were afraid of, because of the fear that their family will banish them. Angela is also the most powerful woman in the story because she openly avowed her lack of feelings for Santiago in public. It was a taboo for a woman to do such a thing as they were supposed to respect any man that will ask their hands in marriage. The author of the novel is commendable in addressing various issues affecting women in patriarchal societies.
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