Rituals in Magical Realism

In the story of Santiago Nasar, we are introduced to magical realism. This is the inference of themes that are not actually written in the story, but are aspects of a story that make the reality of it seem magical. In our story Chronicle of a Death Foretold, we participate in a confusing narrative that speaks of four rituals: Latin American culture, writing, investigation, and story telling. This essay will show how these rituals bring the magical realism to life. In Latin American Culture there are some idiosyncrasies that carry a lot of weight socially.

For example, the narrator states that the Vicario boys were “raised to be men” while the girls were “raised to get married. ” This romantic ideal, however, is not without flaws. Love rarely causes the relationship, and according to Angela’s mother, it can be learned regardless of the feelings at the time of marriage. This culture is rich with romantic ideals. Honor is portrayed as the most important factor in a man’s life. Women were looking for men who had impeccable honor so they could marry well. A ritual that was common in this culture was the learning of everything about a potential in-law.

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Marrying someone from a risque background would bring dishonor to a spouse and would mark them for life. The ritual of writing is exposed in two ways. First, the author has the narrator telling the story from a journalistic viewpoint. The difficulty emerges as he seems to write as if he was writing in a journal. Sometimes the topics are hard to follow, or information is given that does not seem to fit in the story anywhere. Second, the ritual of writing for the sake of writing is illustrated in Angela’s letters to Bayardo.

She is not concerned with what she writes as much as she is that Bayardo is receiving her letters. However, her interest in Bayardo is not revealed to him by what she writes because he never reads the letters. To him, the fact that she sent two thousand letters in a seventeen year period says that she is serious in her desire for him to return to her. Next, we discover the investigative nature of the story. Recounting a murder committed twenty-seven years ago is difficult enough if you have all the facts. However, the investigation of facts is a bit fuzzy in the reading.

It is as if the only sharing of facts we are privy to are the ones the narrator discloses; which is not enough to really base a story of factual events on. The large gap in time disintegrates any clear description of the crime and leaves the reader with more questions than answers. All the “facts” leading to the story as it is written were given to the narrator by the town-folks, and had been handed down from one person to another over the twenty-seven year period of time that elapsed between the actual date of the murder and the retelling of it.

Lastly, we come to the ritual of storytelling, which the people in this culture seemed quite capable of doing. As is revealed in the text, stories take on different shapes dependent upon the individual telling the story. For example, on the day of Santiago’s death, two stories emerge: one that assures the reader that Santiago had been warned and knew there was going to be an attempt on his life; the other story tells the exact opposite. Whether or not he knew is never revealed, and the only corroborative evidence is the letter that was slipped under his door, which was not discovered until after his death.

In conclusion, Chronicle of a Death Foretold isn’t a chronicle at all. Not much of the story has the feel of events unfolding in some chronological order. Although the rituals of Latin American culture, writing, investigation, and story telling are displayed well within the text, a different title should have been considered due to the unfolding of events that seem unrelated to each other; I would suggest something like Malady of a Mysterious Murde.