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IB English: Assignment 1

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The setting of a novel often plays a major role in a novel, in certain instances even acting as a separate character in and of itself. In world literature works such as Chronicle of a Death Foretold and The Stranger, many aspects of the stories, especially behaviors, actions, and beliefs are controlled by a prevalent cultural setting. However, M�rquez and Camus use the settings and their cultural implications with very different purposes. Camus uses the setting to enhance and draw attention to Meursault's alienation from the rest of society, and therefore the rest of humanity. Garc�a M�rquez uses the aesthetic of a small village and the actions of the villagers as a whole to implicate all of the characters in the murder of Santiago Nasar. In The Stranger, Camus' existentialist novel, Meursault is a Frenchman who lives in Algeria, an Arab country, which at that time was a French territory. There are many tensions that result from the fact that he is an outsider living in a foreign country. This forms the basis of his existence as an anomaly to society. The Arabs are represented as violent and mysterious, while the Frenchmen, such as Raymond and Meursault, are examined in detail and have developed characters. The Arabs are not given any dialogue during their encounter on the beach: When we were just a few steps away from each other, the Arabs stopped. ...read more.


He was facing me and he had both hands on his knees. He had kept his old felt hat on. He was mumbling bits and pieces of sentences through his yellowing moustache. He was getting on my nerves a little, but I didn't have anything to do and I didn't feel sleepy. Just for something to say, I asked him about his dog. (44) In removing himself from the society, Meursault is in a way adhering to the principles of existentialist philosophies. Although his self-isolation is perhaps unintentional, it is a result of his apathy towards the sentiments of humanity. He places himself above what he considers to be human frivolities. In a way, his self-isolation can be seen as a declaration of his supremacy over humanity and religion, or even a kind of self-consecration. The people cannot accept him as a part of society and therefore condemn him to be executed. At the end of the novel, he accepts this death as the only way to escape the inferior civilization and does not succumb to the will of the chaplain. Camus' theory of the absurd is illustrated here, when Meursault recognizes the absurdity of human life, the meaninglessness of existence, and "the gentle indifference of the world" (122). In the Garc�a M�rquez's magical realist novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold, we are presented with the idea that each member of the village is responsible for the murder of Santiago Nasar at the hands of the Vicario brothers. ...read more.


Others turned to superstition to justify their actions. Luisa Santiaga, who wanted to warn Santiago, stated that she had "to take the side of the dead" (23). The wedding that took place the night before the murder was a very elaborate and traditional one, with the entire village participating in it. As a result, many villagers were still inebriated and when people they heard the plans of the Vicario twins, they either did not comprehend or "thought it was drunkards' baloney" (52). Another cultural implication of the small-village wedding was that the bride would be a virgin on her wedding night. When Angela Vicario was discovered to be impure, Bayardo San Rom�n, her husband promptly returned her to her parents' house. At this dishonor, Angela's brothers were horrified and promptly decided to take avenge their family. The villagers agreed that the twins were justified in their actions and that they were "innocent...before God and before men" (49). In these novels, both Camus and Garc�a M�rquez weave in subtle plot elements and details through their development of the novels' respective settings. Although both settings are based on real places, the threads of reality and the authors' imaginations have become so intertwined that in each novel they form one cohesive setting. The authors both consider culture as a major facet in these settings and cultural assumptions are highly important in the stories: providing a basis for Meursault's self-alienation and a core for the entire story of Santiago Nasar. In both cases, the traditions of culture served to implicate the characters of Meursault and Nasar. ...read more.

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