Chronicle of a Death Foretold

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The Visiting Magistrate Character Analysis

Lázaro Aponte, feeling overwhelmed, invites this unnamed magistrate—recently graduated from law school—to investigate the murder. The magistrate is struck by the number of fateful coincidences that led to the killing of Santiago Nasar, and has a penchant for describing everything in terms of literature. In writing his chronicle, the Narrator relies heavily on the Magistrate’s report.

The Visiting Magistrate Quotes in Chronicle of a Death Foretold

The Chronicle of a Death Foretold quotes below are all either spoken by The Visiting Magistrate or refer to The Visiting Magistrate. 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

No one could understand such fatal coincidences. The investigating judge who came from Riohacha must have sensed them without daring to admit it, for his impulse to give them a rational explanation was obvious in his report. The door to the square was cited several times with a dime-novel title: “The Fatal Door.”

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), The Visiting Magistrate
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

The Narrator is referring here to Santiago’s unusual decision, on the morning of his death, to exit his house through the front door, thus inviting the attention of the Vicario twins (who are waiting across the street) and thereby sealing his fate. It is one of the many “fatal coincidences” that lends the murder a sense of cosmic inevitability. The whole universe, it seems, conspires to kill Santiago.

Those same fatal coincidences are particularly troubling to the Narrator and the investigating judge, both of whom want to understand the murder in rational terms. Searching for a single, clear cause, they find instead a mess of circumstances that, working in perfect concert, result in the death of Santiago Nasar. To the investigating judge, the death seems to have come straight out of a bad piece of pulp fiction (or a “dime-novel”), a suspicion he gives voice to when he melodramatically refers to Santiago’s door as “The Fatal Door.” This insistence on the weirdly fictional quality of Santiago’s death is, at last, a kind of literary “wink.” Of course, Santiago’s death is fictional—it happens within the confines of a novel, Márquez’s novel. Furthermore, the title “The Fatal Door” is not that much more melodramatic or pulpy than the title “Chronicle of a Death Foretold.” In winking at the reader in this way, Márquez blurs the line between fact and fiction. Not only does fiction imitate life, life can sometimes imitate fiction.

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Chapter 5 Quotes

He was so perplexed by the enigma that fate had touched him with, that he kept falling into lyrical distractions that ran contrary to the rigor of his profession. Most of all, he never thought it legitimate that life should make use of so many coincidences forbidden literature, so that there should be the untrammeled fulfillment of a death so clearly foretold.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), The Visiting Magistrate
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

Here the Narrator describes the young, exuberant Magistrate who comes to investigate the murder. The Magistrate’s tendency toward “lyrical distraction” and his habit of interpreting the murder through the lens of literature is another one of Márquez’s winks at the reader. Of course, in one sense it is not really life that “makes use of so many coincidences forbidden literature,” it is Márquez’s novel that does so. (But it’s also worth noting that the novel is loosely based on a true story.) This self-conscious joke simultaneously highlights the tragic nature of fate in the novel, makes light of the sheer improbability of the novel’s events, and also preempts any accusations of improbability that a reader might make.

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The Visiting Magistrate Character Timeline in Chronicle of a Death Foretold

The timeline below shows where the character The Visiting Magistrate 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
Ritual Theme Icon
...see the Bishop, this is unusual and, as the Narrator explains, later causes the Visiting Magistrate to give the door the pulpy title “The Fateful Door.” There is a simple explanation... (full context)
Chapter 5
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Memory Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Community Theme Icon
Twelve days after the crime, an investigating Magistrate comes to town to make sense of it all. He is young, recently graduated from... (full context)