Study Guide

Chronicle of a Death Foretold The Supernatural

By Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Supernatural

She had a well-earned reputation as an accurate interpreter of other people's dreams, provided they were told her before eating, but she hadn't noticed any ominous augury in those two dreams of her son's, or in the other dreams of trees he'd described to her on the mornings preceding his death. (1.1)

This is the very first incident of a failed supernatural vision that we have in the novel, but it's definitely not the last. Pay attention to all of the moments of the supernatural that you come across as you read. Doesn't it seem like almost all of them are wrong?

My mother gave him the final blessing in a letter in October: "People like him a lot," she told me, "because he's honest and has a good heart, and last Sunday he received communion on his knees and helped with the mass in Latin." (2.4)

This is the narrator's mother speaking. She is known for almost being able to predict the future, and it's later revealed that she actually had a vision of Bayardo as the devil. So why do you think she writes down this impression? Is this just another example of the failure of magic?

It came to be said that he had wiped out villages and sown terror in Casanare as troop commander, that he had escaped from Devil's Island, that he'd been seen in Pernambuco trying to make a living with a pair of trained bears, and that he'd salvaged the remains of a Spanish galleon loaded with gold in the Windward Passage. Bayardo San Roman put an end to all those conjectures by a simple recourse: he produced his entire family. (2.17)

Since Bayardo is a stranger with no family, it's easy to assign all kinds of supernatural and outlandish ideas to him. The narrator says that he puts an end to all of these conjectures by bringing in his family, but is that true? If we remember it correctly, they acted pretty darn strangely as well.

"He had that green color of dreams," Pura Vicario told my mother. Angela Vicario was in the shadows, so she saw only her when Bayardo San Roman grabbed her by the arm and brought her into the light. Her satin dress was in shreds and she was wrapped in a towel up to the waist. Pura Vicario thought they'd gone off the road in the car and were lying dead at the bottom of the ravine. "Holy Mother of God," she said in terror. "Answer me if you're still of this world." (2.51)

This isn't the only time that somebody besides Santiago is assumed to be dead. Is Pura totally mistaken? Angela did say that she felt like she had died after her secret was revealed.

The news had been so well spread by then that Hortensia Baute opened her door precisely as they were passing her house, and she was the first to weep for Santiago Nasar. "I thought they'd already killed him," she told me, "because I saw the knives in the light from the street lamp and it looked to me like they were dripping blood." (3.41)

It's moments like this that make us sad for Santiago. Everyone in the town has already given up on him, as if he were already dead. That's kind of like staring at a person drowning and not making a move to help because you figure they're going to die anyway. Not if you throw them a life jacket, they're not!

He had a deep stab in the right hand. The report says: "It looked like a stigma of the crucified Christ." (4.6)

Earlier Bayardo was associated with the devil, and here Santiago is associated with Jesus. What do you think that says about their relationship, if anything?

"I was awake for eleven months," he told me, and I knew him well enough to know that it was true. He couldn't eat any lunch. (4.11)

We're sorry Mr. Narrator, but just because you're friends with Pedro doesn't mean that he was awake for 11 months. It kind of makes you wonder what else the narrator thinks is true that just isn't.

At first the widower Xius was overjoyed, thinking that all those were the posthumous recourses of his wife in carrying off what was hers. Colonel Lázaro Aponte made fun of him. But one night it occurred to him to hold a spiritualist seance in order to clear up the mystery, and the soul of Yolanda Xius confirmed in her own handwriting that it was in fact she who was recovering the knick-knacks of her happiness for her house of death. (4.24)

Poor Xius, just like other supernatural events, this turns out to have a very mundane reason. The house was abandoned and people were simply stealing furniture from it. No ghosts here. Sorry, Casper.

The friends of Angela Vicario who had been her accomplices in the deception went on saying for a long time that she had shared her secret with them before the wedding, but that she hadn't revealed any name. In the brief, they declared: "She told us about the miracle but not the saint." (5.7)

Most of the time, events in this novel are considered supernatural but have mundane reasons behind them. But this time something very mundane is given a very supernatural metaphor. Why do you think that Angela's friends described the events this way?

Then she went out onto the bedroom balcony and saw Santiago Nasar in front of the door, face down in the dust, trying to rise up out of his own blood. He stood up, leaning to one side, and started to walk in a state of hallucination, holding his hanging intestines in his hands. He walked more than a hundred yards, completely around the house, and went in through the kitchen door. He still had enough lucidity not to go along the street, it was the longest way, but by way of the house next door. (5.75)

After over 100 pages of mystery, we finally get to see the crime happen firsthand. You would expect it to be pretty boring, since we've heard all about it from nearly everyone in town. But because of the supernatural elements like this, there is still an element of surprise and wonder to something as mundane as the death of a man over 20 years ago.