Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Chronicle of a Death Foretold Themes

Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The concept of fate is embedded in the very title of the novel, and introduced again in its first sentence: “On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to wait for the boat the bishop was coming on.” Santiago Nasar’s death is “foretold” in two senses. First, Pablo and Pedro Vicario announce their intentions —literally “foretelling” the death— to anyone who will listen, and soon…

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If the primary drama of Chronicle of a Death Foretold is the murder of Santiago Nasar, the secondary drama is the Narrator’s work of researching, recollecting, and representing the murder. His narrative style is journalistic: after many years, the narrator is attempting to put together a comprehensive account of Santiago Nasar’s murder. Structurally the novel resembles a documentary film: a dramatization or reconstruction of the murder is framed and informed by a huge…

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Chronicle of a Death Foretold is impressive for the way it depicts a world in which religious seriousness commingles with out-and-out debauchery. Nearly every character in the novel moves freely between these two opposite poles of experience, poles that might be labeled as the “sacred” and the “profane.”

God seems to have left the village in which the novel takes place. The Bishop, whom everyone is eager to see on the morning of the…

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Get the entire Death Foretold LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Throughout Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Márquez subtly scrutinizes the underlying rules of social relations, questioning how the circumstances of one’s birth structures and determines the course of one’s life. Márquez is especially interested in the ways in which widely held notions of gender might govern one’s position in society. In the Narrator’s hometown, one’s gender sharply delineates the borders of his or her experience. To put it bluntly, the community is inherently…

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Violence, of course, is a persistent theme throughout this crime story. The violence that Santiago Nasar suffers is—for Márquez and his characters—both familiar and entirely alien. The Narrator, and through him Márquez, asks dogged questions pertaining to violence: What does violence do to its victim? What does violence do to its perpetrator? More pressingly, what is the place of violence within a community? How can a community knowingly allow violence to occur, and, further…

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So much of daily life in the Narrator’s community is governed by ritual and routine. In a simple sense, the population consists mostly of tradespeople, whose lives consist of repetitious tasks: Clotilde Armante sells milk to the same people every morning; Pablo and Pedro Vicario raise and slaughter their pigs. Time has a cyclical, repetitive quality in the town: every day, the same steamboats pass on their way upriver.

Perhaps more importantly, though…

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