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THERE HAD NEVER BEEN A DEATH MORE FORETOLD: The Value of Honour in Latin American Culture

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Atupele Ndisale IB English A1 February 2, 2009 "THERE HAD NEVER BEEN A DEATH MORE FORETOLD": The Value of Honour in Latin American Culture "The brothers were brought up to be men. The girls were brought up to be married" (p. 30). Honour is an aspect of life that has always been greatly valued in Latin American society or culture. For men, honour is simply acquired or shown through three main things; courage, assertiveness (strength), and authority, particularly over women. On the other hand, for women, honour simply lies in the question of whether or not they had been involved in a sexual relationship outside or before a marriage. The males of the society are expected to protect and defend this honour and any failure to do so doesn't only result in the diminishment of the women's honour, subjecting her to ridicule, but that of their own. This importance or value of honour in Latin American society or culture is one of the main issues that Gabriel Garc�a M�rquez manages to cover in his short novel, entitled Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Through his use of several narrative techniques, characters, and motifs in the novel, the degree to which honour is valued in a small Columbian town is made clearly apparent, allowing the reader to become that much more acquainted with Latin American culture. ...read more.


As stated by the unknown narrator early in the novel, "the brothers were brought up to be men. The girls were brought up to be married. They knew how to do screen embroidery, sew by machine, weave bone lace, wash and iron, make artificial flowers and fancy candy, and write engagement announcements...[my mother] thought there were no better-reared daughters (Poncio Vicario's daughters). 'They're perfect,' she was frequently heard to say. 'Any man will be happy with them because they've been raised to suffer" (p. 30). Therefore, women are essentially powerless in this town, while men are born with/hold the key to all the control and authority. For instance, while men are expected and allowed to pursue a career, similar to Angela's father, or decide on whom they want to marry, similar to Bayardo San Roman, women are simply expected and allowed to do one general thing - get married and have children. They usually don't even have any say in who they marry, similar to Angela's mother, which explains why "they've been raised to suffer", and their only job or chores are those of the household. Drinking alcohol and visiting the local house of prostitution, both considered as mundane acts among men, would be considered highly dishonorable among/for women. ...read more.


For instance, we're told early in the novel that "[he] put on shirt and pants of white linen, both items unstarched, just like the ones he's put on the day before for the wedding" (p. 3). The key word from the passage is 'white', giving us (others) the impression that Santiago is clean and pure. This, however, serves as a contradiction to the impression that we're given towards the end of the second chapter of the novel -Santiago's condemnation. In addition, the use of clothing as a device and it's relevance to the importance of honour also relates greatly to the Vicario twins. Towards the end of the novel, we're informed that "the knife [the twins were using to kill Santiago] kept coming out clean", implying that their clothes were left pure and clean from the attack (p. 119). This notion of still being clean regardless of the commitment of a bloody and gruesome crime reflects on the community's attitude towards the incident - "it was a matter of honor", justifying the murder; therefore, deeming the Vicario twins innocent (p. 49). For that reason, through the use of such narrative techniques as jumbled chronology, as well as such devices as clothing, Marquez manages to further and more interestingly portray/put together the motifs (revenge and the position of women and men), which depict the degree to which honour is valued the small Columbian town - in Latin American culture. ...read more.

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