Chronicle of a Death Retold Again and Again

Explain why Gabriel García Márquez may have chosen to depict events in a particular sequence or order in Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

    Chronicle of a Death Foretold, the Nobel Prize-winning novel written by Gabriel García Márquez, is anything but an ordinary book.  Its length, characters, and plot are all unique, but what makes it stand out even more is its chronology.  The book describes the events surrounding the murder of a man named Santiago Nasar.  The crime, committed by brothers Pablo and Pedro Vicario, is the focal point of the entire book’s timeline (1), but the sequence that García Márquez presents is not chronological; instead, events happen in a roundabout order.  Each chapter begins and ends at different points, and the only thing that all of the plot points have in common is their relation to the murder.  García Márquez uses the unorthodox timeline to draw attention to his characters’ failures and the irony of his book’s title.

Summary:

García Márquez begins by describing Santiago Nasar’s last morning; he wakes up early in order to see a bishop arrive in town.  After the ceremony, he heads toward home with his friends Cristo Bedoya and the narrator.  None of them know what most others in town already do–that the Vicario twins are waiting to murder Santiago–which they do at the end of the chapter (2).

The second chapter begins with the arrival of a man named Bayardo San Román to a small Colombian town, where he hopes to find a wife.  He finds the widow Angela Vicario exceptionally attractive, and soon the engagement is set in motion despite Angela’s reserves.  The night of the wedding involves the biggest party the town has ever seen.  Bayardo and Angela leave for their home after a night of revelry–but only hours later, Bayardo discovers his wife is not a virgin.  Shocked and affronted, he returns Angela to her home, where she tells her brothers who was responsible for staining her honor–Santiago Nasar (3).

The next chapter describes the investigation performed following the murder, then goes into the details of the Vicarios’ plot: how they woke up, sharpened their knives, and lay in wait for Santiago, all the while bragging of their plot to anyone who would listen (4).

The fourth chapter follows the Vicarios’ experiences after the murder.  The brothers stay in prison for a few years before being released, and carry on with their lives.  Angela, on the other hand, becomes obsessed with the husband she lost, and writes thousands of letters to Bayardo.  At the end of the chapter he returns to live with her again (5).

The last chapter describes Santiago’s murder once more, but this time from the point of view of Cristo Bedoya and others.  It shows the event all over again, giving the reader new details as to Santiago’s final moments–how he was warned too late, tried to run to his house, and was stabbed on his doorstep (6).

A series of stills from the Chronicle of a Death Foretold movie, illustrating the townspeoples’ failure to warn Santiago and the ensuing murder (7).

Analysis:

This non-chronological sequence enhances the feeling and presence of magical realism in the text.  Magical realism–defined by the presence of strange or outlandish phenomenon, time shifts, and polar opposites–is García Márquez’s genre of choice for his novel.  The seemingly inexplicable way in which Santiago’s murder occurs unhindered is accentuated by the magical realism.  The more that the coincidences allowing his murder pile up, the more the reader begins to wonder if his death really was “foretold”–in other words, destined.

The effect of presenting events in this order is that the idea of Santiago’s murder being an unstoppable event is felt throughout the entire text.  Not only does the reader know it is going to occur (since the narrator begins by referencing it as having already occurred); during the entire plot his death seems strangely inevitable.  Hence, the idea of Santiago’s death being “foretold” is twofold:

  1. One side is quite literal–his fate, after all, is literally told to the reader when García Márquez says, “On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty . . .” (8).
  2. The other side relates, more abstractly, to the way in which García Márquez writes the rest of the book–circling from morning to night and from character to character, all the while describing the exact set of circumstances that allow Santiago to be killed.  When referencing the fact that Santiago left through his front door–something he rarely did, and something that allowed the Vicarios to see him–García Márquez writes, “No one could understand such fatal coincidences” (9).  The sense of inevitability the reader receives throughout the novel is incredible.

The front door of Santiago’s house represents all of the circumstances that aligned on the day of his murder (10).

Although . . . how inevitable was Santiago’s death, really? García Márquez allows his readers to decide that for themselves.  His novel’s sequence contributes to its message–that honor killing was, and is, viewed as both necessary and unstoppable in certain cultures.  The way in which García Márquez draws attention to the “foretold” nature of the murder directs questions toward the townspeoples’ failures.  At one point, Colonel Aponte, the mayor of the town, tells Cristo Bedoya he plans to stop the murder–but only moments later puts off acting in favor of checking on a social date (11).  Contrary to what the title of the novel might indicate, Santiago’s death was not foretold at all–at least, not until the townspeople decided to stand back and allow “honor” to be “regained” through brutal murder.  At this point, Santiago’s murder might as well have been destined to happen, since no one was willing to put a stop to it.

Conclusion:

By concentrating on the order in which he presents events in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel García Márquez is able to lead his readers to question cultural issues.  Honor killing–and more importantly, the lack of concern over it–is a real problem.  This non-chronological book, through its description of wild circumstances and coincidences, shows that just one person can sometimes be enough to stop something terrible from happening–if they are willing.  Sadly, the book also illustrates a harsher truth–if they are not, no one might be able to stop the crime.

Word count: 982

  1. (García Márquez 24).
  2. (García Márquez 3-24).
  3. (García Márquez 25-47).
  4. (García Márquez 48-71).
  5. (García Márquez 72-95).
  6. (García Márquez 96-120).
  7. (14 Movie Stills).
  8. (García Márquez 3).
  9. (García Márquez 12).
  10. (Around the World).
  11. (García Márquez 109-110).

Text type: Blog

Features: comments, tags, sidebar, web address, headings

Works Cited:

Around the World in 80 Clicks. Travel Adventures. Web. 30 September 2015. <http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/europe/kotor-old-town08.html >.

García Márquez, Gabriel. Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Trans. Gregory Rabassa. New York: Vintage International, 2003. Print.

14 Movie Stills from Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1987). Ciné Songes. Web. 30 September 2015. <http://www.cine-songes.com/en/item/04000389/chronicle-of-a-death-foretold/ >.

Thing #5: How Chocolate Is Made

I couldn’t think of anything to write my blog post about, and I like chocolate.  Also, no one seems to know what it’s actually made of or how it’s made.  So, we are going to find out!

Let’s face it: if you don’t love chocolate, you are missing something very important in your life.  So important, I would say, that it’s worth understanding how it’s made.

Step 1: Get cacao beans

The famous cacao (pronounced “ka-KOW”) beans from which chocolate is made are grown in the Theobroma cacao tree.  This tree, although native to only Central and South America, can be found all throughout the tropics.  Why?  The chocolate industry!

Cacao trees form pod-shaped fruits that hang off their branches and contain a white pulp that covers around 40 seeds.  Workers harvest the pods, remove the seeds, and let them ferment for several days (the time will vary depending on the quality of the chocolate).  After this process, they have begun to lose some of their bitter flavor.

Step 2: Roast the beans

After being weighed and sorted, the beans must be baked at 210-290˚F for around two hours in enormous ovens.  This serves to dry the beans, as well as bring out even more flavor.  After this, they crack the beans’ shells to leave just the inner parts behind (this is what will become the chocolate).

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Step 3: Chocolate liquor

Following this, the inner beans (called “nibs”) are crushed into a paste called chocolate liquor.  This liquor, in order to create a chocolate bar, must be combined with all the ingredients that block the remaining bitterness–sugar, milk, vanilla, and cocoa butter.  These additions also improve the texture of the chocolate liquor, so it’s more creamy.

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Step 4: Refine the chocolate

The mixture is then put through a series of steel rollers, as well as a process called “conching”, in order to make it even smoother.  Conching is the process of stirring, crushing, aerating, and smashing the liquor.  After this, more cocoa butter and soy lecithin can be added, which should help the chocolate reach its final texture.

To end the process, the chocolate mixture is stirred, cooled, reheated, stirred, and so on until the appropriate “shiny” look has appeared.  Then it’s just a matter of letting the mixture harden in a mold.

Now that everyone is sufficiently craving chocolate…

Here’s something to help you see the optical illusion.

I hope you enjoyed!

Sources:

http://facts-about-chocolate.com/how-is-chocolate-made/

http://facts-about-chocolate.com/where-does-chocolate-come-from/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_square_puzzle

Thing #4: How Great Life Is

It’s not always obvious to us just how incredibly lucky and blessed we are.

People (myself included) tend to focus on the negative.  We judge days as “good” if not many “bad” things happened, rather than realize just how many things went right for us.  If we bomb a test, screw up a job interview, tap someone’s bumper on the way home from work… those things stand out to us.  They bother us, and can change our entire perception of our day.

Why?  One reason only.  They are the outliers, the odd situations, and the uncommon occurrences (unless you take pre-calculus, then get used to bombing tests).  95% of most people’s lives contain only things to be thankful for, or at the very least, nothing to be sad about.  So when something does come along, we have difficulty seeing around it.

Most people reading this will have gotten out of a comfortable bed this morning, eaten breakfast, maybe showered with hot water, and put on clean clothes.  I did the same thing.  Just that should have been enough to put a smile on our faces, but more likely we were internally complaining about something.

I could list hundreds of statistics about the lives of struggling people throughout the world, and go on for a long time about how much luckier we are to live the way we do here in the US.  But just like learning history through facts and figures doesn’t really give the full picture, typing up dry numbers isn’t very effective.  So how about a magic trick an example?

Not what I meant.

Let’s take one of those mornings I described.  Mornings are good examples, since it’s easy to be depressed when all you can think about is the fact that you’re not sleeping.  Picture yourself in the most “normal” morning you can imagine.  What’s going through your mind?  Probably one of these things…

…when in reality, you should be being thankful that the thousands of processes keeping your body running are occurring in the correct way; not to mention the excessive number of other things that are currently going great for you.  Are you being chased by mad axe men?  Is a rampant elephant smashing your town to bits?

Seriously, though, I recommend everyone think about this kind of stuff the next time they’re feeling down.  If we can think of more and more ridiculous situations we’re thankful to be avoiding at any moment, maybe life will get better and better.

Tralfamadorian Novel: A Day in the Life of a Biotecher (Alex, Ally, Lauren)

Getting the IB Diploma:
So Much Knowledge:
History IA Struggles:
Elevator Shenanigans:
100 on Test:
Symbol #1: We used pencils as symbols for frustration and failure. We chose to use pencils because they are seen often in everyday life, but (similar to some Biotech students) can break under pressure.
Symbol #2: We used Smarties as symbols for success. We chose to use them because they are delicious candies that bring happiness, and because their name helps emphasize the symbol.
    We put the diploma first because we wanted the viewer to know what happens in the end, before they see the rest of the Vines. This helps the viewer see the positive effects of looking ahead to achieve goals. Then we put the books Vine to symbolize all of the knowledge we have gained/will gain from IB. We put DGP and History IA struggles in the beginning and then exercising to symbolize our reach for success (Smarties). During the Elevator Shenanigans, we finally got the Smarties, and at lunch we ate them (enjoying our success). We put the waking-up Vine last to show that even when you’re struggling to wake up, you can look back on your past accomplishments and realize you may have a great day ahead of you.
    In the vine when we are checking Powerschool, we intentionally put a pencil in the background to help show failure. We also embedded a Smarties wrapper between the books to symbolize that knowledge is closely linked with success and happiness, and that reading can make you successful. We put Dr. Eno’s name on the IB Diploma to show that though she isn’t at our school anymore, she contributed greatly to all of our successes.
    Taken together, our Vines express that you should never give up. There may be frustrating and discouraging moments, but if you persevere and keep on learning, you will succeed. Always reach for high goals, even when achieving them seems impossible.

Thing #3: Everything!

If I were really going to cover everything people misunderstand in this post, it would have to be, like, Things #3-5,000,000.  Thankfully it’s a misnomer, since I don’t have nearly enough time to write about 4,999,997 misconceptions.

It occurs to me (slightly too late) that having that gif at the top of this post is not the best way to draw in viewers.

Getting to the point, today I’ll be covering a hodgepodge of random misconceptions that I found interesting and fun.

1) Einstein failed math.

He didn’t.  On the contrary, he excelled in math!  Here’s a quotation from him: “Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus”.  Think about that one for a minute, then tell me how you feel about your pre-calc GPA.

 

2) If you flush a toilet in the Southern hemisphere, the water flows in the opposite direction than water in Northern hemisphere toilets.

You might’ve heard this one before.  Like many myths, it has a basis in fact; proponents of this myth often cite the Coriolis Force as reasoning behind it.  The Coriolis Force is a phenomenon caused by the rotation of the earth, and it often causes giant air masses (for example, tornadoes) to rotate in opposite directions in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.  However, a toilet flush is too brief (and the amount of water contained in one too small) to be influenced by the Coriolis Force, which only changes things over large distances and much longer time spans.

 

3) Lightning never strikes the same place twice.

Tell that to Roy Sullivan, who, between 1942 and 1977, was struck by lightning SEVEN TIMES.  Well, you might be thinking, Roy probably wasn’t in the exact same place every time, was he?  Probably not.  But the Empire State Building is struck approximately 25 times per year.  And last time I checked, that was a pretty stationary building.

 

 

4) If you touch a baby bird, its mother will abandon it.

It turns out you’re safe to pet those cute things after all:

That one on the right is totally falling asleep.

Mother birds don’t have a strong enough sense of smell to reject one of their children if a human touches it.  That being said, it might not be smart to cuddle random birds you find.

 

5) The Great Wall of China can be seen from space.

The Great Wall, being only 30 feet wide at maximum, is just plain not visible from that far up.  You don’t have to take my word for it, though–so long as you have billions of dollars to shell out for a trip into space to see for yourself.

Next time the format of the blog will be changing up a little, just to keep things fresh.  Be on the lookout for less tangible misconceptions and more abstract misunderstandings.

 

Sources:

Common Misconceptions — World’s Most Contagious Falsehoods

20 Things You Need to Know About Einstein

Flush Bosh

10 Common Scientific Misconceptions

10 Historical Misconceptions

Thing #2: Space and Stuff

When wandering through the Internet the other day, I happened upon several lists of misconceptions about space and space-y things.  Realizing the undeniable connection to this blog, I had to make a post about some of them.  Bear in mind I have had no past experience with astronomy or astrology other than a rudimentary sixth grade class in which I zoned out so hard and so repeatedly I have not retained a speck of information.  True story.

Shockingly, I didn’t know a lot of these things!  Can you imagine the odds of that?

What I’m trying to say is: all of the information I am about to charitably bestow comes from online sources.  They are listed at the bottom of this post.

MISCONCEPTION #1: A region of “zero gravity” can exist

This makes a lot of sense if you think about it (which I hadn’t before), but nowhere in the universe is there a spot where the effects of gravity upon an object are null.  We’ve heard the term so many times it just rolls off the tongue by now, but gravity works over infinitely large distances.  Of course, the farther away you are, the smaller the force acting on you, but it’s still there.  Here’s an example to blow your mind: if the only objects in the universe were you and a baseball, floating in empty space trillions of miles from each other at rest, you would eventually hit the baseball… assuming you found a way to stay alive for, you know, a really long time.

MISCONCEPTION #2: Columbus thought the Earth was flat

Chalk this one up as another failure of the American education system.  Although some uneducated people in Europe during Columbus’ time may have believed the Earth was flat, the Greeks had proved it was round thousands of years earlier.  Columbus actually knew this, but greatly misjudged the circumference of our planet.  He thought he could reach Asia by sailing west, but instead bumped into a few islands.

MISCONCEPTION #3: Asteroid belts look like the ones in Star Wars

Turns out, no.  Sorry, George Lucas.  Asteroid belts (like atoms) are actually primarily empty space.  Chances are, sitting in the middle of one would be pretty much the same as sitting in any other region of space: cold, silent, and with no asteroids or chunks of rock floating around.  Or spaceships, unfortunately.

MISCONCEPTION #4: The Sun is on fire

Wait… it’s not?  It seems impossible–I mean, it certainly looks like it’s on fire:

But the Sun is, in reality, just an enormous ball of gas undergoing constant nuclear fusion.  No “traditional” combustion, no flames.

MISCONCEPTION #5: People freeze in space

As is so often the case with things we think we know, the exact opposite is actually true.  If you were exposed to the vacuum of space with no protective gear, you wouldn’t freeze–you’d overheat.

Under normal circumstances, water (which makes up a good percentage of our bodies) positioned above a heat source (for instance, our internal mechanisms) will heat up, rise to the top of its reservoir, transfer its heat energy to the surrounding air, and sink down to the bottom again.  This cycle (normally) stops us from crisping into French fries on a daily basis.  But in space, you can’t breathe, doofus there’s no air to accept the heat energy.  As a result, your body would just heat up and heat up until you died–or until your corpse melted, since by the time sufficient heat could be built up to crisp you, you’d have long since died from oxygen starvation.  Space is so cheery!

And finally, one random fact.  The atmosphere of the planet HD 189733b is over 1,000˚C, has winds of over 4,300 miles per hour, and is often subject to storms containing glass that rains sideways.

Sources:

The Most Misunderstood Concepts in Space Science

Popular Misconceptions in Astronomy

Top 5 Misconceptions About Columbus

Hubble spots azure blue planet

Ten Common Misconceptions About Space

Thing #1: How to Properly Run a Radio Station

Admittedly, a solid 0% of the people who read this are probably never going to have anything to do with a radio station other than that they listen to one.  But this is a problem I’d like to rant about discuss logically.

I love music very much.  But over the years I have become ardently against most radio stations.  Why?  Because of their inability to play anything other than the same songs, day after day, hour after hour.

I am inclined to doubt that the one that my bus driver plays every morning is actually run by human beings.  My theory is robots.

And not cool robots like this:

But robots like this:

I’ll show you.  This is my morning:

1. Get onto bus like so:

2. Sit down like so:

3. Hear radio commercials end and music begin like so:

Why?  Because not only are the same songs played over and over again, but whoever does run the station continually insists on introducing their tunes with the statement that they are “new”.

INCORRECT.

If you have been playing the same songs, quite literally, for weeks on end, by definition THEY HAVE CEASED TO BE NEW!

At what point did this plan seem smart?  Let’s say that, for the sake of argument, “new” can still describe a song two months after it has been released.  Even if this were so, by playing it repeatedly (and I do mean repeatedly), the newness has become so utterly beaten down that I might as well be listening to white noise, albeit white noise with triple the levels of swearing and innuendo.

Now that I’ve gotten that out…

It’s hard to keep my personal tastes in music out of this, but I’ll refrain.  Really, the point isn’t that they play what I think is bad music.  It’s that they aren’t living up to what I think a radio station should be: entertaining.  Their choice of words is just pouring salt on the wound; there’s nothing to be gained by making a false statement and simply hoping your listeners are too wrapped up in their Monday-morning misery to care.

Words are a powerful tool, and I think we’ll find on this journey that a lot of the things people misunderstand are in some way related to language.

So please, if you know currently run a radio station, plan to in the future, or know someone who does, spread the word.  Don’t pretend like your listeners aren’t smart just to increase your ratings.  I can deal with music that I’m not fond of.  I can also deal with that music again and again and again.  But I do not like to be lied to.

Thanks for joining this sarcastic GIF-ridden post.  Hang around for more sarcasm and more GIFs.

P.S. Click on any GIFs or images to be taken to their original sources.