Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Pdf fan
Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Santiago Nasar Character Analysis

Santiago Nasar is the protagonist of Chronicle of a Death Foretold, the hapless victim of a brutal murder. He is the child of a “marriage of convenience” between Plácida Linero, a local woman, and Ibrahim Nasar, an Arab immigrant turned rancher. He is wealthy by the town’s standards, and seems to be a fairly respected member of the community, though his ethnicity draws some suspicion from conservative townsfolk. He raises livestock, rides horses, owns many firearms, and enjoys falconry. While not overtly religious, he enjoys the pomp of Catholic ritual. He is an unrepentant womanizer—he frequents María Alejendrina Cervantes’s brothel and attempts to seduce the young Divina Flor—and is engaged to Flora Miguel, whom he is devoted to but does not seem to love. Despite this, his good friend the Narrator is convinced that Santiago had nothing to do with Angela Vicario, and indeed all the available evidence supports this claim. By the end of the novel Santiago remains something of a mystery—the Narrator never discloses much about his inner life, saying only that he was “merry and peaceful, and openhearted.”

Santiago Nasar Quotes in Chronicle of a Death Foretold

The Chronicle of a Death Foretold quotes below are all either spoken by Santiago Nasar or refer to Santiago Nasar. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage Books edition of Chronicle of a Death Foretold published in 0.
Chapter 1 Quotes

She had watched him from the same hammock and in the same position in which I found her prostrated by the last lights of old age when I returned to this forgotten village, trying to put the broken mirror of memory back together from so many scattered shards. She could barely make out shapes in full light and had some medicinal leaves on her temples for the eternal headache that her son had left her the last time he went through the bedroom. She was on her side, clutching the cords at the head of the hammock as she tried to get up, and there in the half shadows was the baptistry smell that had startled me on the morning of the crime.
No sooner had I appeared on the threshold than she confused me with the memory of Santiago Nasar.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Santiago Nasar, Plácida Linero
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

In this paragraph, which appears early in the first chapter, the Narrator reveals just how much time has elapsed since Santiago’s murder. And yet for the Narrator and the inhabitants of the “forgotten village,” the crime is at once lost to the past and ever present: it cannot be returned to, but neither can it be left behind. The Narrator finds Plácida, Santiago’s mother, in the same exact position she was when she last saw her son, as if his death left her frozen in place. Her memory of Santiago is so intense that it imprints itself on reality, and she confuses the Narrator for her late son.

For the Narrator, memory is more often a communal experience than a private one. His lyrical statement of purpose—“to put the broken mirror of memory back together from so many scattered shards”—is in fact an apt description of his project. He has returned to the village to collect testimonials from the many witnesses to the crime. There is no one singular, definitive account of Santiago’s death; instead, it has been scattered and refracted through the lives of the townspeople.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Chronicle of a Death Foretold quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

But she couldn't avoid a wave of fright as she remembered Santiago Nasar's horror when she pulled out the insides of a rabbit by the roots and threw the steaming guts to the dogs.
“Don't be a savage,” he told her. “Make believe it was a human being.”
Victoria Guzmán needed almost twenty years to understand that a man accustomed to killing defenseless animals could suddenly express such horror.

Related Characters: Santiago Nasar (speaker), The Narrator (speaker), Victoria Guzmán
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

On the morning of his murder, Santiago enters his kitchen to find the cook, Victoria Guzmán, disemboweling rabbits. The image, with a kind of brute force, grimly foreshadows the violence that will befall Santiago. As the reader later learns, Santiago is disemboweled by the Vicario twins, and after the autopsy his intestines end up in the trash. Victoria’s ritualistic, mechanical dismemberment of the rabbits mirrors the twins’ ritualistic, mechanical fulfillment of their “duty.”

But this passage isn’t just a shocking preview of the violence to come. On a subtler level, Victoria’s befuddlement over Santiago’s disgust raises a important question, one that vexes the entire novel: can violence ever be dignified? What might it look like to disembowel a rabbit as if it were a human being? When they kill Santiago, the twins will claim to have done so in defense of their family’s honor and dignity. And yet the reality of Santiago’s death, which is appalling and brutal, seems to overwhelm any claim to moral purity that the twins can make.

Chapter 2 Quotes

She only took the time necessary to say the name. She looked for it in the shadows, she found it at first sight among the many, many easily confused names from this world and the other, and she nailed it to the wall with her well-aimed dart, like a butterfly with no will whose sentence has always been written.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Santiago Nasar, Angela Vicario
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Here the Narrator attempts to imagine how Angela Vicario came up with Santiago’s name when her brothers asked her who deflowered her. The Narrator’s description betrays his suspicion that Santiago had nothing to do with Angela, and that she offered his name at random, perhaps to protect the true culprit. Angela later denies this accusation, so what the Narrator writes here is pure speculation. His final, lyrical words, “she nailed it to the wall with her well-aimed dart, like a butterfly with no will whose sentence has always been written,” convey quite clearly his deterministic view of the crime. To him it seems that Santiago is simply the victim of fate, innocent and yet destined to be murdered. His use of the word “sentence” is another one of Márquez’s sly winks to the reader: Santiago seems to be living out a sentence—a punishment—but he is also living in sentences, as he is ultimately the fictional subject of a novel.

Chapter 3 Quotes

Santiago Nasar had an almost magical talent for disguises, and his favorite sport was to confuse the identities of the mulatto girls. He would rifle the wardrobe of some to disguise the others, so that they all ended up feeling different from themselves and like the ones they weren't. On a certain occasion, one of them found herself repeated in another with such exactness that she had an attack of tears. “I felt like I'd stepped out of the mirror,” she said.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Santiago Nasar
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

The Narrator presents this mysterious description of Santiago’s wily antics when he is recounting their time at María Alejandrina Cervantes’ brothel. It is one of the few direct descriptions of Santiago’s character—his hobbies and his sensibilities—that appears in the novel. There is something ominous, almost menacing about Santiago’s habit of confusing the identities of brothel girls. But it also establishes the brothel as a space that is somehow safe from the restrictions of society, a place where one’s carefully constructed social identity might entirely dissolve. With this brief, cryptic passage, Márquez seems to suggest that one’s identity is not in any way innate or essential—it can be easily erased, confused.

Chapter 4 Quotes

They gave us back a completely different body. Half of the cranium had been destroyed by the trepanation, and the lady-killer face that death had preserved ended up having lost its identity. Furthermore, the priest had pulled out the sliced-up intestines by the roots, but in the end he didn't know what to do with them, and he gave them an angry blessing and threw them into the garbage pail.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Santiago Nasar, Father Carmen Amador
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

The Narrator offers this description of Santiago’s body after Father Amador has completed his clumsy autopsy. The passage shows in gruesome detail the transformative quality of violence—how it reduces Santiago to a mere thing, or collection of things, and entirely erases his identity as a human being. Father Amador’s exasperated decision to toss Santiago’s intestines in the trash is a kind of perverted ritual, a clash of solemn, Catholic sensibilities and the absolutely profane reality of violence. This also echoes the earlier scene of Victoria Guzmán disemboweling the rabbits, where Santiago urged her to not be a “savage,” but to pretend that the rabbits were human. Here we see that indeed such violence is inherently savage and profane, whether it is a cook gutting rabbits or a priest “blessing” a murder victim’s organs.

Chapter 5 Quotes

They were sitting down to breakfast when they saw Santiago Nasar enter, soaked in blood and carrying the roots of his entrails in his hands. Poncho Lanao told me: “What I'll never forget was the terrible smell of shit.” But Argénida Lanao, the oldest daughter, said that Santiago Nasar walked with his usual good bearing, measuring his steps well, and that his Saracen face with its dashing ringlets was handsomer than ever. As he passed by the table he smiled at them and continued through the bedrooms to the rear door of the house.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Poncho Lanao (speaker), Santiago Nasar, Argénida Lanao
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

After he is brutally stabbed by the Vicario twins, Santiago passes through his neighbor’s house in order to reach his own back door. He does this automatically, as it is a kind of ritual he performed often. However, this iteration of the ritual is grotesque, perverse—an otherwise neighborly exchange transformed into a violent and traumatic disruption. Poncho Lanao’s remark on “the terrible smell of shit” underlines just how profane this kind of death is, despite the supposedly “honorable” reasons that inspired it. At the same time, Argénida Lanao’s contradictory memory of Santiago’s passing again highlights how fictionalized this act has become in the town’s collective memory.

Get the entire Death Foretold LitChart as a printable PDF.
Chronicle of a death foretold.pdf.medium

Santiago Nasar Character Timeline in Chronicle of a Death Foretold

The timeline below shows where the character Santiago Nasar appears in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
On the morning of his murder, Santiago Nasar wakes up at 5:30 AM, hungover from the wedding the night before and apparently... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
Santiago rises and dresses in a formal outfit of white linen. When Santiago is working in... (full context)
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
In recounting Santiago’s final encounter with Plácida Linero, the Narrator tells of his own encounter with her, decades... (full context)
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
The Narrator returns to the day of Santiago’s death. In the kitchen, Victoria Guzmán, the cook, and her teenaged daughter, Divina Flor, are... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
Santiago, having finished his breakfast, walks to the front door of the house, accompanied by Divina... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
As it turns out, the Narrator explains, both Victoria Guzmán and Divina Flor know that Santiago Nasar is about to die—earlier, a beggar had stopped by and told them the news.... (full context)
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
...Vicario, twin brothers, lie in wait. They are the men who are going to kill Santiago Nasar. Each clutches a knife wrapped in newspaper. Seeing Santiago leave his house, they begin... (full context)
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
...excitement, the Bishop passes by on his steamboat without stopping, delivering a blessing from afar. Santiago, who is at the docks, feels a little cheated, because he contributed to the loads... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
Margot, who has a slight crush on Santiago Nasar, invites him to breakfast. Santiago agrees but says he must go home first, to... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
The Narrator admits it strange that Margot didn’t knowSantiago was in danger, as so many townspeople knew by then. The Narrator finds it even... (full context)
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
...discovered that she was not a virgin. Now Pablo and Pedro Vicarioare out to kill Santiago Nasar, who they allege is responsible for deflowering their sister. Margot overhears their conversations and... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
...sees that the Narrator’s Mother has set an extra place at the breakfast table for Santiago Nasar. Margot, confused and distraught, tells her to take it away, and then begins to... (full context)
Chapter 2
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
...family, accompanied by many people of note, arrive by boat, bearing lavish gifts. The Narrator, Santiago Nasar, and Cristo Bedoya attend together. Santiago Nasar obsessively tries to calculate the cost of... (full context)
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
...she takes him up on fourteen years later. Eventually the Narrator, his brother Luis Enrique, Santiago Nasar, and Cristo Bedoya end up at María Alejandrina Cervantes’brothel. Pablo and Pedro Vicario are... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
...asks Angela who took her virginity. She wastes no time in telling him: it was Santiago Nasar. (full context)
Chapter 3
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
...their power to have someone stop them. The twins claimed to have first searched for Santiago at Maria Alejandrina Cervantes’ house, but Maria claims she never saw them. Next, they went... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
...the last chapter. “There had never been a death more foretold,” he says. Upon hearing Santiago Nasar’s name, the twins take two of their best knives to the meat market, where... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
...continue on to Clotilde Amante’s store, where they plan to sit and keep watch over Santiago Nasar’s front door. Clotilde serves them two bottles of cane liquor, and they tell her... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Leandro Pornoy informs Colonel Lázaro Aponte that the Vicario brothers have been talking about killing Santiago Nasar. Aponte doesn’t make much of this news, and doesn’t plan to do anything about... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
...was naturally more authoritarian than Pablo, had been the first to suggest that they kill Santiago. But now that their knives had been confiscated, Pedro considered their duty fulfilled and in... (full context)
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
...razor. The sun hasn’t risen yet. They wait for the light to come on in Santiago’s bedroom, but it never does. (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
The Narrator explains that Santiago didn’t turn his light on when he eventually came home, at four in the morning.... (full context)
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Afterwards, the four friends part ways. Santiago Nasar returns home and immediately falls asleep, just before the beggar woman comes to warn... (full context)
Chapter 4
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
The Narrator jumps forward to the days following Santiago’s murder. Santiago’s body, which is ravaged and quickly decomposing, is put on public display in... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
The autopsy, which is clumsily executed, finds that seven of Santiago’s many wounds were fatal. His liver is sliced to pieces, his intestines and lungs and... (full context)
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
...begin to have sex, but suddenly María pushes him away, saying that he smells like Santiago. The Narrator agrees—everything smells of Santiago that day. (full context)
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
It even smells of Santiago in Pablo and Pedro Vicario’s jail cell. They are there awaiting trial, unable to afford... (full context)
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
...in a red dress to preempt any suspicions that Angela might be in mourning for Santiago. Pura asks Father Amador to confess Pedro and Pablo, but Pedro refuses, claiming that the... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
...witty. The Narrator probes her, trying to tease out the truth about her relationship with Santiago Nasar—he doesn’t believe they were ever involved—but Angela deflects his questions, saying only that Santiago... (full context)
Chapter 5
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
...a lasting effect on the town. Hortensia Baute, a local woman, goes crazy; Flora Miguel, Santiago’s fiancée, runs off; Don Rogelio de la Flor takes one look at Santiago’s door, which... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
...literature.” Most of all, though, he is vexed by the utter lack of evidence connecting Santiago Nasar to Angela Vicario. For the Magistrate—and for the narrator—Santiago’s behavior in the hours before... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
The Narrator admits that it is his personal impression that Santiago died without understanding his own death. Of those who failed to warn Santiago that morning,... (full context)
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
Yamil Shaium, a old friend of Santiago’s father, Ibrahim, hears that Pedro and Pablo Vicario are plotting to kill Santiago. Of all... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Upon hearing the news, Cristo Bedoya is immediately distraught. He runs after Santiago, but finds that his friend has disappeared into the crowd. Thinking Santiago has gone home,... (full context)
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
...convening in the square, waiting for something to happen. Cristo hurries off in search of Santiago. He asks everyone who passes, but no one has seen Santiago. He runs into Colonel... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Cristo, thinking that Santiago has perhaps gone to the Narrator’s house for breakfast, runs along the river bank. He... (full context)
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Social Restrictions Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
The Narrator explains that, while Cristo was looking for him, Santiago had gone into his fiancée Flora Miguel’s house. Cristo hadn’t thought to check there because... (full context)
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Instead, Santiago stumbles outside, where a huge crowd has gathered. Santiago is so confused that he can’t... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
...tells Plácida that her son is in danger. Divina Flor is convinced that she saw Santiago Nasar, bearing flowers, come through the back door of the house and head up to... (full context)
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
Pedro and Pablo Vicario catch up to Santiago at his door. Santiago turns to face them, and they begin stabbing him, first in... (full context)
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
The Sacred and the Profane Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
Plácida Linero, who this whole time thinks that Santiago is safe in his room, can’t find him in the house. She goes out on... (full context)