Many authors parallel the protagonists of their stories to similar historical, symbolic, or heroic figures, turning them into an archetype of their own. Throughout Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Garcia Marquez juxtaposes Santiago Nasar with the physical and ideological, Jesus Christ. While comparisons between both symbolic figures are found within the pages, revelations of societal corruption are revealed as the deaths of Santiago and Jesus unfold. The lives of these two men essentially embody the cultural traditions that were destroyed by their lives, but are eventually redeemed through their deaths.
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The description of Santiago Nasar develops into a direct parallel to Jesus Christ. The first similarity is immediately recognized when Santiago Nasar is introduced in the novel. One can argue that his name is somewhat similar to that of Jesus Christ because the name Santiago means “Saint” and Nasar is a Semitic name and even though he is Arab, his name suggests a Mid-Eastern origin, like Jesus. Also, since Santiago is not thought of as a native Colombian like the majority of the town’s population; he is considered somewhat of an outcast, like Jesus Christ was. To explain Santiago looked and acted very different than most people in town, “he was slim and pale and had his father’s Arab eyelids and curly hair.”(page 7). One can infer that Santiago’s differences
from the rest of the town led to his ultimate downfall not because he supposedly had sexual relations with a young girl, but because he was an outsider and therefore an easy target and play as a scapegoat for the loss of Angela Vicario’s virginity.
Jesus Christ and Santiago Nasar both shared similar upbringings. For example, both men were “fatherless”. According to the Roman Catholic Doctrine, Jesus was born through the Immaculate Conception. To explain, it is believed Mary was preserved by God from the lack of sanctifying grace that afflicts mankind and that she was instead filled with divine grace. In doing so, she was impregnated, without having any form of sexual intercourse, giving birth to Jesus Christ without the sperm from a human male. This is somewhat similar to Santiago Nasar who lost his father at a young age in his life. To explain, the narrator explains “The death of his father had forced him to abandon his studies at the end of secondary school in order to take charge of the family ranch.” Through this statement one can infer that Santiago losing his father had a major affect on his life. He was still a young man when the tragic loss of his father occurred because he was still in school, so instead of living his life like a normal boy, he had to quit school to fill his father’s shoes. Thus, proving both Jesus Christ and Santiago’s lives growing up were different than that of most boys because they were “fatherless”.
Throughout the course of the book Santiago Nasar’s death is foretold, which is predominantly what the novel is about which is strikingly similar to Jesus Christ because he also foretells his death for the rest of the world to see and understand. In the beginning
of the novel, “Santiago put on a shirt and pants of white linen”(page 5). Just as Jesus wore a white linen cloth before he was about to die, Santiago also wears white linen the day that he is supposed to die. Additionally, white represents innocence and this choice of clothing promotes innocence in Santiago Nasar. This immediate comparison with Jesus Christ sets up the rest of the novel as a symbolic reference.
Throughout the novel, the faults of the community are unraveled and the thoughts and attitudes of each community member is evaluated. The characters lack individualization and the communal values determine the events of the town. The characters merely watch Santiago’s death develop, yet never try to stop the killers. The characters think that nothing evil could ever happen in their town, and therefore, do not believe the horrible threats that were made towards Santiago Nasar. The author raises the question of whether the desires of a society can overshadow the actions of an individual. This conclusion brings about the death of Santiago, who inadvertently dies for the sins of the community. Jesus too died, according to the Bible, for the sins of his people. This similarity creates an even stronger link between these two men.
One may also argue that both Jesus Christ and Santiago Nasar were killed because of the betrayal and lack of loyalty shown by a specific member of the town. To explain, Jesus was betrayed by Judas. Judas identified Jesus to the soldiers by means of a kiss. This is the “Kiss of Judas”, also known as the “Betrayal of Christ” and leads directly to the arrest of Jesus by the police force of the Sanhedrin and later to his crucifixion. As
Santiago was told on by Angel Vicario after Bayardo San Roman discovered her lack of purity. Her brother Pedro Vicario asked her in rage “All right girl tell us who it was.” and she replied without hesitation “Santiago Nasar”. Thus beginning the Vicario brother’s manhunt to kill Santiago Nasar and reclaim the family honor.
Another aspect of Santiago, that follows suit with that of Jesus, is the nature of Santiago’s death. Santiago is stabbed through his hand before the knives of Pedro and Pablo Vicario, actually reaches his body. The knife literally, “went through the palm of his right hand and then sank into his side” (page 117). This way of death epitomizes the death of Christ. When Jesus Christ was killed his hands and feet were nailed to the crosses and referred to as a stigma, or “the bleeding of hands”. Both Jesus and Santiago are also both wounded multiple times with non-fatal blows to the body. To explain, Santiago had only “Seven of the many wounds were fatal. The liver was almost sliced in pieces by two cuts on the anterior side. He had four incisions in the stomach, one of them so deep that it went completely through, and destroyed, the pancreas. He had six other, lesser perforations in the transverse colon and the multiple wounds in the small intestine.” (page 75). As Jesus Christ also withstood non-fatal blows before his death as he was brutally whipped countless times prior to his crucifixion. This “Jesus-like” cause of death is later supported during the autopsy of Santiago Nasar. While Father Amador is performing the carelessly performed autopsy, he begins discussing Santiago’s wounds, and goes as far as to compare Santiago’s wounds to the wounds of Jesus Christ. Father
Amador reports, “He had a deep stab in the right hand, it looked like a stigma of the crucified Christ” (page 75).
Santiago Nasar and Jesus Christ’s deaths were somewhat witnessed similarly as well. To explain, after the stabbing of Santiago, he limps around in proper etiquette, holding his entrails close to his midsection. When recounting this event, Divina Flor reports that she thought that Santiago “wearing a white suit and carrying something that I couldn’t make out well in his hand, but it looked like a bouquet of roses” (page 116). This statement is also somewhat “Jesus-like” because prior to Jesus Christ’s death he was
seen by members of the town holding something as well, but Jesus was not flowers like Santiago; he was holding the cross which he was to be crucified on.
In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Garcia Marquez made to fill the novel with countless similarities between Jesus Christ and Santiago Nasar, in order to portray Santiago as the virtuous sacrifice for not only the sins of Angela Vicario but also the sins of the entire town. It was obvious to see, as the story unfolds, Santiago Nasar becomes an ideological symbol of his own. It is the numerous parallels between Santiago and Jesus that make this novel all the more meaningful.
Word Count: 1418
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