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.
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)