World Lit. 2- Symbolism of the Town Square in Chronicle of a Death Foretold

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Symbolism of the Town Square in Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Nicole Davis

IB DYP Language A1 English HL

March 2010


Word Count: 1243

Symbolism of the Town Square in Chronicle of a Death Foretold

In the Latino culture, the town square represents many things in their society, one of which a reflection of the present, another is the deeply rooted historical and cultural heritage.  Symbolically, the square represents stability, beliefs, strength, solidity, and the earth or ground.  In Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the town square represents the bridge connecting the old ideals to the new.  Located in the town square in the novella are the port, Santiago Nasar’s house, the church, and Clotilde Armenta’s milk shop.  In the Latino culture, the four sides of the town square represent the senate, the church, university, and commerce.  The port represents the senate, where the people come to greet the Bishop the day of Santiago Nasar’s death, and the Church represents the church.  Sanitago’s house represents the university, and the milk shop represents commerce.  In Marquez’s novella, the town square facilitates the meeting between conflicting elements, between the old and new ideals of the town.

When the town square is first introduced in the novella, the layout of the square is also mentioned.  Marquez writes about Santiago’s house being located on one side of the square, and the house’s “Fatal Door” that Santiago went out of “to receive the Bishop” (Marquez 12).  In the Latino culture, Catholicism teaches forgiveness, acceptance, and love.  Ergo, a strong religious leader teaches the society this behavior and guides the community to live by such ideals.  Ironically, the Bishop in Marquez’s novella exhibits great apathy toward his people, but for some reason, that remains unmentioned through out the novella.  The Bishop has an aversion to this Caribbean island; in fact, he only blesses the town out of mere obligation.  The way the blessings are received represents the lack of devotion, for the Bishop makes “the sign of the cross in the air opposite the crowd on the pier,” a blessing “without malice or inspiration” (Marquez 19).  As the highest leader in the church, the Bishop ought to promote Christian principles through out his actions.  The Bishop’s attitude towards the islanders completely contradicts the catholic ideals, for the blessing also demonstrates little acceptance and religious commitment for the people.  By exposing the religious leader in such a way, Marquez is able to express how such an authority figure does not provide structure for his own people.  With authority figures such as the Bishop, it is understandable as to why the society tolerates such selfish actions.  One example of the town’s selfish actions is the murder of Santiago that was performed without a second thought in order to restore one’s honor.  The Vicario brother’s lawyer stood by the “thesis of homicide in legitimate defense of honor, which was upheld by the court in good faith.” (Marquez 48)  The symbolism of the then square becomes ironic because the square represents stability, strength, and solidity; if the town lacks a solid figure to look up to for guidance, one can only question their cultural stability?

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The interactions in the novella occur where opposing ideas clash, in the square.  Thus, the clashing ideas depict both the old and the new ideals.  When the Bishop came on his boat to bless the island, his “boat bellowed”, juxtaposing that sound with that of the “music versus fights”, the “drunkards singing” (Marquez 45).  The bellow of the boat connects back to when Santiago felt like he was “covered in bird shit” (Marquez 1) after waking from his dream.  Conversely, the music and the singing symbolize the happiness and harmony during Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Roman’s wedding.  Along with ...

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