In one sense the river, which runs right through the town, is a figure for time in the novel—it forges interminably ahead while simultaneously appearing to recur. Further, the river is the town’s only connection to the outer world, and it is a meager connection at that. While it used to be that seafaring ships passed through regularly, changes in the river’s course have made that impossible—and as a result the town is left isolated from the wider world and struggling economically. When Bayardo San Román arrives on his steamboat, it’s as if he has come from another planet.
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The timeline below shows where the symbol The River appears in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...who marries Angela Vicario. Bayardo first appears, apparently at random, on a steamboat coming up the river . He is the richest, best-dressed, most dashing man the town has ever seen. He... (full context)