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In his novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Garcia Marquez has the impressive skill of characterizing and foreshadowing Santiago Nasar’s character and eventual death. Santiago Nasar’s murder by Pedro and Pablo Vicario was caused by an accusation that Nasar was having premarital relations with the Angela Vicario. However, at that time Angela Vicario was engaged to Bayardo San Roman. When San Roman learns about the new news that Angela was never a virgin before they were engaged, San Roman was enraged and decided that he no longer wanted to marry her. This has caused Angela Vicario’s brothers, Pedro and Pablo Vicario, to plan a murder for Nasar and throughout the novel, Garcia Marquez uses motifs such as birds and pigs as animal imagery to foreshadow and characterize Santiago Nasar’s eventual death and character.
Garcia Marquez begins the novel with the morning on Nasar’s death. The morning of the day Santiago Nasar was murdered by Pablo and Pedro Vicario, Nasar had an odd dream. His dream involved birds. That morning, Santiago Nasar “dreamed he was going through a grove of timber trees where a gentle drizzle was falling, and for an instant he was happy in his dream, but when he awoke he felt completely spattered with bird shit” (3). Because there are many parallels that can be drawn from Nasar’s dream to Nasar’s life, the essence of his dream obviously resembles Nasar’s life story. Garcia Marquez uses symbolism and animal imagery when describing the eventful dream. The timber trees symbolized the townspeople who knew about the Pedro and Pablo Vicarios’ plan, but had done nothing to prevent it, his brief happiness points to his oblivious nature, and the bird excrement symbolizes his eventual death. His purpose of these techniques are to foreshadow Santiago Nasar’s eventual demise. The events of his dream corresponded to the events that will happen in his life, therefore the animal imagery of the birds foreshadows the fate of Nasar.
The bird imagery continues throughout the novel, as Garcia Marquez continues to describe Nasar after he spoke about Angela Vicario and her accusation that she and Nasar had premarital relations. He has described Nasar as “a sparrow hawk. He went about alone, just like his father, nipping the bud of any wayward virgin who began showing up in those woods” (90). Nasar is being known for having premarital relations with virgins. Garcia Marquez uses a metaphor of comparing Nasar to not only his father, but he is being compared to a hawk. A hawk is a bird predator that survives off of helpless prey. He uses this metaphor to characterize Nasar as the ideal Columbian machismo. He has the ability to do what he wants with women because that is one of a machismo man’s role. Like a hawk, Nasar goes around and survives off of vulnerable prey. The prey is the women who Nasar had premarital relations with.
Additionally, Garcia Marquez continues the animal imagery through another motif in the novel. Garcia Marquez used the motif of pigs when speaking about the Vicario brothers murdering Nasar. Garcia Marquez illustrates how the Vicario brothers gorily murdered Santiago Nasar for having premarital relations with their sister, Angela Vicario. When Nasar is being stabbed over and over, “trying to finish it off once and for all, Pedro Vicario sought his heart, but he looked for it in the armpit, where pigs have it” (118). Animal imagery is shown when Garcia Marquez describes that Santiago Nasar was killed the same way that the Vicario brothers would have butchered a pig. Because Pedro Vicario sought Nasar’s heart in his armpit, Nasar is being compared to a pig that will become butchered. Garcia Marquez’s purpose of the pig imagery is to characterize Santiago Nasar. This reveals how other townspeople have viewed Nasar after they had heard that he had premarital relations with Angela Vicario. Nasar was dehumanized to an animal by the way he was murdered. When Pedro Vicario was looking for Nasar’s heart in his armpit, Nasar was technically being treated as if he was going to be butchered like a pig. He is characterized with negative attributes because his accused actions with Angela Vicario has gone against cultural norms between males and females, where premarital relationans are looked down upon. When being compared to a pig, Nasar is then being associated with negative attributes that a pig would have. In the Colombian culture, pigs are typically associated with dirt and vulgarity.
Garcia Marquez uses animal imagery throughout Chronicles of a Death Foretold in many ways and with many purposes, the most memorable of which is to indicate the ultimate fate of Santiago Nasar. The novel begins with Santiago Nasar’s dream. Nasar has an off dream that consisted of birds the day before his death; the purpose of this was to foreshadow Nasar’s unfortunate fate. Then, the novel continues to describe and characterize Nasar using animal imagery. Nasar was known for being a sparrow hawk in the small town. The animal imagery of the the sparrow hawk, another type of bird, is used to characterize Nasar and to provide how most of the village viewed him. Garcia Marquez then continues to use animal imagery to further develop Nasar’s character. Animal imagery is used when Garcia Marquez compares Nasar’s murder scene to butchering pigs. The purpose of pig imagery is to characterize and create a deeper understanding of Santiago Nasar.
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