Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Brief Overview

This Resource is for Year 12 students studying Gabriel Garcia Marquez ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ in the VCE Victorian Curriculum for 2024 Unit 3 AOS1 Reading and Responding to Texts.


Gabriel García Márquez

Year Published





Surrealistic Fiction – magic realist style – as the overwhelming number of accidents, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, contradictions, and confused memories seem to completely undermine reason and human understanding regarding how events unfold in the real world.

Perspective and Narrator

Chronicle of a Death Foretold is told from the perspective of an unnamed narrator, allegedly the author, who pieces together a journalistic narrative of a past event. The story as related by the characters is told in the third person by the narrator, who also uses the first person to describe his own involvement in the story.


Chronicle of a Death Foretold is told in the past tense.

About the Title

The title Chronicle of a Death Foretold states that the novella is a chronicle, which narrates events in chronological order. However, the author uses the label chronicle with verbal irony (when what is meant is different from what is said), because the events in the story are not revealed in chronological order. Further, the title reveals that the story’s deathis foretold or known in advance—and this death occurs at the very beginning of the novella. So, this too, undermines the real-life, journalistic pretence of the author. In short, the title contrasts with the nonlinear and somewhat mysterious and inexplicable nature of the events in the narrative.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold Character Analysis


The narrator lived in the town as a boy, and his mother, sisters, and brother still reside there. He returns to the town decades after Santiago’s murder to find out exactly what happened. He is now working as a journalist, and he uses his skills as an interviewer and investigator to try to tease out the facts about what happened at that fateful time and why.

Santiago Nasar

Santiago is an open-hearted, good-natured, and innately innocent young man. Angela Vicario names him—falsely—as the man who violated her prior to her marriage. The macho code of honour makes him the target of the vengeful Vicario brothers, who seek him out to murder him. For inexplicable reasons Santiago does not learn of the murderous twins’ plan until it is too late, and they hack him to pieces at his front door.

Angela Vicario

Angela is a young, pretty girl of marriageable age whose family keeps a close eye on her to protect her honour. However, inside she is a free spirit who chafes at her family’s overprotection. After she lies about Santiago and the tragedy plays itself out, she lives on her own, guided only by her free will and her love for Bayardo. Angela never divulges with whom she had sex with before her marriage.

Pablo Vicario

Pablo Vicario is the twin brother of Pedro and older brother to Angela. He is a hog-butcher and a hot-headed macho Latino male who is hell-bent on finding Santiago and avenging the honour of his sister, Angela, who supposedly was violated by Santiago before her marriage. It is Pablo who forces his twin, Pedro, to pursue the murder of Santiago even after Pedro feels events have satisfied his lust for revenge.

Pedro Vicario

Pedro Vicario is Pablo’s twin brother and works with him as a hog butcher. Pedro eventually becomes less intent than his brother on finding and murdering Santiago. However, he lets Pablo force him to help with the killing. He is far more affected by the murder and afterward goes off to join the military, where he disappears and is never heard from again.

Plácida Linero

Plácida is an upper-class woman who lives with her son Santiago and servants in a large house on the town plaza. Despite the intention of several townspeople to warn her of the threat to her son, she never learns of the murder plot before it is carried out. It is by chance that Plácida aids in the murder when she bolts the front door as Santiago rushes toward it to escape the Vicario brothers.

Bayardo San Román

Bayardo comes from a rich and high-status military family. He is supremely self-confident and lavish in planning his wedding celebration and in buying Angela the house of her dreams. His confidence is crushed by the scandal surrounding Angela and the termination of their marriage. He nearly dies from his alcoholism. Decades later he is still bitter and closemouthed about the terrible events that occurred during and after his wedding to Angela.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold Plot Summary

Epigraph from Portuguese Playwright Gil Vincente about Falconry & Finding Love

The book opens with an epigraph about falconry: “The pursuit of love is like falconry.” Here, finding love is represented as a form of predation in which the raptor, or the seeker of love, snares a love object almost at random and then kills it. Finding love is likened to a blood sport in which the beloved is a victim of inevitable violence. The quote sets the stage for the fury and violence that love engenders in the novella. It is also likely a critique of the cultural norm of vengeance killing, a custom that must be taught to the men who carry it out, perhaps in the same way captive falcons are trained to hunt on the wing.

People who own falcons train the birds to hunt and then enjoy a rather grisly spectacle. When the falcon is released, its owner watches as it soars upward searching for a bird it can snare in its talons. (This horrific scene mimics the death of Santiago.) The relevance to the novella is clear: Angela seems to pick Santiago’s name out of thin air, the same way a falcon catches a bird in flight. It is his random, strange, and meaningless fate to be murdered just as it is the fate of the falcon’s prey to be the one bird the predator grabs. There are references to falconry, and its lethal arbitrariness, in several places in the novella.

Chapter 1

Santiago Nasar has been murdered. He had gotten up early to go and see the bishop who was arriving on a boat that morning. The day before there had been a large and lavish public wedding celebration in honour of the marriage of Angela Vicario to Bayardo San Roman. Unbeknownst to Santiago, Bayardo had dragged his wife back to her parents’ home the night before because he discovered she was not a virgin. When her twin brothers demanded to know who had deflowered her, Angela said it was Santiago. Her brothers Pedro Vicario and Pablo Vicario swear to murder Santiago as revenge for dishonouring their sister.

The narrator, who grew up in this town, has returned 27 years later as a professional investigative journalist to uncover the truth about why and how Santiago was murdered. Unfortunately, most townspeople have confused memories of what happened. Still, the narrator is determined to unearth the reason that although most of the people in the town knew of the Vicario brothers’ plot to murder Santiago, no one warned him or did anything to stop the killing.

Chapter 2

Bayardo is handsome and rich. He arrived in town in August to look for a bride. The moment he sees Angela Vicario walking with her mother, he falls in love with her. The couple gets married in February. Bayardo’s wedding feast is the most lavish and expensive the town has ever seen.

Angela does not want to marry Bayardo because she does not love him, but because she had a strict upbringing, she must do what her parents tell her to do—and they want her to marry Bayardo. When Bayardo brings her home after discovering her dishonour, Angela’s mother beats her. When the townspeople find out about her dishonour, they are amazed. Angela has always been closely controlled by her mother. How had she found a way to have sex with a man before her wedding?

The narrator, his brother, his friend, and Santiago spend the entire night of the celebration together. Santiago is delightful and carefree. The narrator is certain it could not have been Santiago who had sex with Angela. She must have lied when she named him.

Chapter 3

The Vicario brothers, who are twins, must avenge the lost honour of their sister. They go to the pig butchery where they work and get two long slaughtering knives. They go to the meat market to sharpen their knives, and they boast to all the butchers there that they are going to kill Santiago Nasar. Then they go hunting for him. They roam the town looking for Santiago, and along the way, they tell everyone they meet about the murder they are about to commit. No one in town takes them seriously, so no one bothers to warn Santiago, his mother, or anyone else who might prevent the crime. People think the twins are either too drunk to be taken seriously or that they are just bluffing.

While the Vicario twins hunt Santiago, he, the narrator, his brother, and his friend go up to the newlyweds’ house to serenade the couple. They are unaware that Bayardo is alone in the house, having already returned his bride to her family.

The Vicario twins finally wait for Santiago to return home. They sit in the milk shop, which is across the street from Santiago’s house, and plan to attack Santiago when he returns. They tell each person who comes into the milk shop of their murderous plan. Again, no one takes them seriously or does anything to prevent it. The owner of the shop tells a beggar woman to go to warn Santiago’s mother, but it is not known if she gets the message.

Chapter 4

The Vicario brothers have killed Santiago Nasar with their butcher knives, nearly hacking him to pieces. He dies in front of his home. The mayor orders the town priest to conduct an immediate autopsy, as the body reeks in the heat. The botched autopsy leaves Santiago’s body even more mutilated. The priest concludes that Santiago died of seven fatal stab wounds.

The Vicario brothers turn themselves in to the church. They show no remorse because they feel an honour killing is not a sin. The priest, like most other men in town, seems to agree. Because of an unwarranted fear of reprisal by the town’s Arab community, however, the Vicario brothers are moved to a jail some distance away. Angela Vicario, her mother, and the rest of her family also move out of town, fearful (needlessly) of Arab revenge.

Decades later when the journalist narrator comes to investigate the crime, he tries to interview Bayardo, who refuses to discuss the incident. The narrator locates Angela Vicario living on her own in a distant town, and she agrees to speak with him. She discusses many details of the event but will not say who had sex with her before her wedding day. She tells the narrator that, since the incident so many years earlier, she has fallen in love with Bayardo. She has written him frequent letters for many years, even though he never answers her.

Chapter 5

The people of the town are obsessed by the murder that took place so many years ago. They want to understand how and why it happened—why no one warned Santiago—but they can make no sense out of the senseless accidents and wrong choices that failed to save him.

A few weeks after the murder, a magistrate shows up in town to investigate. He, too, is bewildered by what happened. He cannot understand how everyone in town knew the murder was about to take place but no one warned Santiago or did anything to stop the crime.

The narrator goes on to describe the mischances, misunderstandings, miscommunications, unlucky choices, coincidences, and accidents that seem to have made a whole host of townspeople unable or unwilling to warn Santiago to save him. Perhaps they could not believe he would really be murdered, but it is his fate to be murdered. His fate is foretold when Angela names him and in the inaction of those who know about the killing but do nothing. Santiago meets his fate at his front door where the Vicario brothers butcher him.

honour & gender
machismo & marianismo
revengeexpectations on women and men & purity of women
dishonourfairnesssanctity & Christ
deceptionsupernaturalfate & chance
sacrificechoicememory & confusion
death & murdertruth & false truthcomplicity & guilt
authorityloyaltymoral compass
falconry & birdsthe bishopnatural world
the riverflowers real & artificialdreams
magic surrealismanimalsthe cult of death linked to Christ’s crucifixion
smellsthe weatherflying
Biblical references knives 

All Resources created by Online Tutoring using Zoom for Mainstream English Students in the Victorian Curriculum

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