Study Guide

Chronicle of a Death Foretold Guilt and Blame

By Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Guilt and Blame

When they heard her, the Vicario twins reflected, and the one who had stood up sat down again. Both followed Santiago Nasar with their eyes as he began to cross the square. "They looked at him more with pity," Clotilde Armenta said. (1.26)

Pity is not normally the emotion that murderers have for their victims. Maybe hatred or anger, but not pity. Why do you think the Vicario brothers felt this way about Santiago?

Don Lázaro Aponte, a colonel from the academy making use of his good retirement, and town mayor for eleven years, waved to him with his fingers. "I had my own very real reasons for believing he wasn't in any danger anymore," he told me. Father Carmen Amador wasn't worried either. "When I saw him safe and sound I thought it had all been a fib," he told me. (1.36)

These guys are the pillars of their community. Don Lázaro Aponte is the legal pillar, and Father Carmen Amador is the religious pillar. So if they acted this way and failed to prevent the murder, how can we expect the rest of the community to behave differently?

Furthermore, with the reconstruction of the facts, they had feigned a much more unforgiving bloodthirstiness than really was true, to such an extreme that it was necessary to use public funds to repair the main door of Placida Linero's house, which was all chipped with knife thrusts. (3.5)

Sentences like these make us feel like we're in bizarro world. Just how does it make sense that the Vicario brothers have to pretend they are more bloodthirsty than they really are in order to be absolved of guilt? What is it about the culture of the town that mandates the death of Santiago? Are the brothers really guilty?

Their reputation as good people was so well founded that no one paid any attention to them. "We thought it was drunkards' baloney," several butchers declared, just as Victoria Guzman and so many others did who saw them later. (3.11)

Let's all remember that this is exactly the same defense that Victoria Guzmán used. The one that was a complete and total lie. So are these butchers lying too? Or is hindsight 20/20?

For the immense majority of people there was only one victim: Bayardo San Roman. (4.15)

Why is Bayardo San Román considered the only innocent one here? After all, he did aggressively pursue Angela even though she showed no interest in him. So isn't he culpable as well?

The cocks of dawn would catch us trying to give order to the chain of many chance events that had made absurdity possible, and it was obvious that we weren't doing it from an urge to clear up mysteries but because none of us could go on living without an exact knowledge of the place and the mission assigned to us by fate. (5.1)

It looks like everyone in town feels guilty. But what exactly is making them feel this guilt? It's obvious that they don't actually care about the death of Santiago, since they are not trying to clear up the mystery surrounding his murder.

But most of those who could have done something to prevent the crime and did not consoled themselves with the pretext that affairs of honor are sacred monopolies, giving access only to those who are part of the drama. (5.2)

Um...We guess. That's a pretty lame excuse in our book.

Hortensia Baute, whose only participation was having seen two bloody knives that weren't bloody yet, felt so affected by the hallucination that she fell into a penitential crisis, and one day, unable to stand it any longer, she ran out naked into the street. (5.2)

Poor lady. Even though the majority of the town consoled itself with the idea that there was no way they could save Santiago, Hortensia went mad because of her guilt. Why do you think she reacted differently than the majority of people?

Plácida Linero had locked that door at the last moment, but with the passage of time she freed herself from blame. "I locked it because Divina Flor had sworn to me that she'd seen my son come in," she told me, "and it wasn't true." On the other hand, she never forgave herself for having mixed up the magnificent augury of trees with the unlucky one of birds, and she succumbed to the pernicious habit of her time of chewing peppercress seeds. (5.2)

It's interesting that Santiago's mom, one of the few people who actually did everything she could to save her son, still feels guilty. Do you think blame has been correctly assigned in this town? Should Plácida Linero feel bad for messing up her dream interpretation?

They didn't hear the shouts of the whole town, frightened by its own crime. (5.73)

If you wanted to figure out who is to blame for Santiago's murder, Marquez answers it right here. It's the town's crime. The whole town shares the guilt and the blame for what happened.