Gabriel by doing their duty, they will

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold, a novel which relates the events
before and after an honor killing in a Colombian town, portrays the importance,
and lack thereof, of duty in the town in which it is set. Duty is interpreted
differently throughout the novel. The people in the town consider duty that
upholds honor and familial duty to be of great importance, and their attitudes
towards these duties reflect in their actions; however, the people in the town do
not show as much importance to their duties as professionals and citizens of
the town.

The culture of the Colombian town in which
the story unfolds is deeply rooted in the duty to uphold family honor. The
death foretold in the novel is carried out by the Pedro and Pablo Vicario who consider
it their duty to uphold the honor of their sister and their family. The
Vicarios live in a society which believes that on a bride’s first morning as a
newlywed she must display the “stain of honor” on her linen sheets (38). When
Bayardo San Roman realizes his bride, Angela Vicario, is not a virgin, he
returns her to the Vicarios. Family honor is woven into the fabric of this
society. The defense of this ideal is responsible for Santiago Nasar’s murder. Angela’s
brothers, Pedro and Pablo, consider it their duty to uphold the honor at home
and decide to kill Santiago Nasar, the man that supposedly took her virginity.

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The Vicario brothers kill Santiago in order to restore the honor of their
sister and their family. They believe that by doing their duty, they will bring
back honor to their family. This ideology and attitude to the duty to uphold
family honor is reflected by the town’s high regard for family duty.

The town lends serious importance to familial duty. Everyone in
this society has a duty to their family. The importance of familial duty within
the society portrayed in Chronicle of a Death Foretold is present throughout
the novel. According to this society’s norms, Angela has a duty to stay a virgin
and marry to as high a station as she can, even though she doesn’t love the man
she marries. Pedro Vicario presents himself for military service and serves “for
eleven months on police patrol” to earn money for the family and perform his
familial duty (59). Pablo Vicario stays home from military service to “take
care of the family” (59) and perform his familial duty. The Vicario brothers
are a microcosm for the town in which they reside — it familial duty is of the
utmost priority. Angela brings dishonor to her family and fails in her duty to
them. Santiago Nasar is murdered in order to gain back the honor Angela loses
having premarital sex with him, and to regain the family’s honor when Angela’s
marriage fails. Their society forgives them for it by not shunning them, and so
does its institutions through their lenient actions.

The people in the town lend serious importance to duty that upholds
honor. The town’s judicial response to the honor killing of Santiago Nasar reflects
its views on perfoming a duty to uphold honor. The defense lawyer “stood by the
thesis of homicide in legitimate defense of honor, which was upheld by the
court in good faith” (48). This judicial policy goes to show that even the
court of law in the town accepted and regarded performing a duty to uphold
honor. Moreover, the Santiago twins declared at the end of the trial that they “would
have done it again a thousand times over for the same reason” (48). The Vicario
brothers’ attitudes display the grave importance they give to their responsibility
to uphold their family’s honor. The town’s response to the honor killing reflects
the townspeople’s attitude towards duty to uphold one’s honor. When the Vicario
brothers are caught for their crime, the punishment seems to reflect the belief
that Vicario’s actions are morally just. The brothers’ actions and society’s
subsequent response is a microcosm of the value of family honor in this town. All
of the characters in the novel are influenced by this powerful construction of
honor. The fact that “the only thing they knew for sure was that Angela Vicario’s
brothers were waiting for Santiago Nasar to kill him” (21), indicates that
the ideal of duty to uphold honor was widespread throughout the town as they
all seemingly expected the Vicarios to do their duty. No one in this town ever
questions any actions taken to preserve someone’s honor, even an action as
drastic as taking someone’s life. Furthermore, Prudencia Cotes, Pablo Vicario’s
fiancée, illustrates the gravity that the townspeople afforded matters of honor
when she tells us that “she would have never married him if he hadn’t done what
a man should do” (62). She, of course, is referring to Pablo’s duty to uphold
honor and kill Santiago Nasar. She effectively portrays the town’s views on upholding honor. It is
a duty that must be fulfilled at all costs; if it is not, the performer of the
duty will be shunned. The
people of this Columbian town give immense importance to the duty of upholding
family honor. However, when it comes to their personal duties as individuals
and as citizens, they forsake their responsibilities. Familial duty and honor is
a greater priority than basic human duties and values.

The series of events before and after
Santiago Nasar’s death portray the lack of weight given to professional and
civic duties. The Vicario
brothers themselves told many in the town they were going to kill Santiago
Nasar. They “told their plans to more than a dozen people who went to buy milk”
and these people “spread the news everywhere” (58). However, none of them acted
on that piece of information. They didn’t attempt to stop the brothers, or warn
Santiago. There were very few people in the town that did not know “that the
Vicario twins were waiting for Santiago Nasar to kill him, and in addition, the
reasons were understood down to the smallest detail” (58). The town collectively
fails to rise above cultural prejudices and personal beliefs, by failing to
recognize the severity of the event that was about to occur and therefore
failing to prevent it. They did not perform their basic civic duty as citizens
of the town, or even as people and stop a murder. This failure to perform their
duty shows the lack of importance they — and at a larger level the town — give
to civic duty and duty as people. Many in this town have the opportunity to stop the killing of Santiago
Nasar, and for some it was their professional duty, but none do.

Some in the town
forsake their professional duties in a time of need, displaying the lack of
importance given to this type of duty. The priest and the mayor were warned
that Santiago Nasar was going to be murdered, yet none of them take this news
seriously enough to intervene. Officer Leandro Pornoy revealed the Vicarios’
intentions to mayor Lazaro Aponte, but he had “settled so many fight between
friends the night before that he was in no hurry for another one” (55). He abandoned
his duty as a mayor in a time of need simply because he was too lazy. Later, as
he pieced information together, he went to Clotilde Armenta’s store to
intercept the Vicario brothers. However, he merely “took away their knives and
sent them off to sleep” (56). This grossly imperfect fulfilling of his duty as mayor
to the town displays his attitude to his professional duty and as a citizen of
the town. The mayor was a trained colonel in the academy; it is his duty to
serve and protect the town’s citizens and yet he does a pathetic job of
stopping an imminent murder. He simply takes away the Vicarios’ knives, which
goes to show that he does not fulfill his professional duty and deter the act
adequately. The dereliction of professional duty continues beyond Santiago’s
death. The village priest, Father Amador, performed “an unforgiving autopsy
that was described as a “massacre”. Father Amador cannot fulfill his
responsibility and botches the autopsy.

In Chronicle
of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Garcia Marquez satirizes 

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