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Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Chronicle of a Death Foretold Summary


Here you will find a Chronicle of a Death Foretold summary (Gabriel Garcia Marquez's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

Chronicle of a Death Foretold Summary Overview

The plot revolves around the tragic murder of Santiago Nasar, a wealthy young man accused of deflowering Angela Vicario by Angela herself. Upon learning of Angela's non-virgin status, her newly wedded husband, Bayardo San Roman, returns her to her family home in disgrace. Angela's twin brothers, Pedro and Pablo Vicario, resolve to restore their sister's honor and determine to kill Santiago, the person she named as her defiler. The storytelling alternates between past and present, starting with the fateful morning Santiago is killed. The narrative reveals Santiago's life with his mother Placida Linero, their servant Victoria Guzman and her daughter Divina Flor. Following his father's death, Santiago takes control of the family estate, which prospers under his leadership. The day of the murder coincides with the Bishop's visitation to the town for the blessing of Angela and Bayardo's union, a significant event that has the townsfolk flocking to the docks, including the Vicario brothers who are intent on locating and killing Santiago. The story also delves into Bayardo's arrival in town with the sole purpose of finding a wife, choosing Angela despite her lack of affection for him. The night preceding Santiago's murder is filled with wedding festivities at a local brothel where Santiago, the twins, and the narrator spend the late hours. After discovering Angela's disgrace, the Vicario brothers embark on their deadly quest for vengeance, their murderous intent dismissed as mere bluster by the townspeople. In the aftermath of the murder, the Vicario family departs the town due to the shame cast upon them. Angela, having fallen in love with Bayardo after their marriage fell apart, writes to him weekly for seventeen years until he finally returns to her. The murder becomes the defining event of the town, a topic constantly revisited by its inhabitants.

chapter 1

Santiago Nasar rises early, in high spirits, to meet the incoming bishop's boat. His cheerful demeanor is evident despite a slight headache, a remnant of the previous night's dream about trees. He looks for relief at his mother, Placida Linero's house, dressed in the same white linen outfit he wore to the previous day's wedding. Santiago, a lean and fair man of Arab descent, is an only child from a marriage of convenience. He possesses a sixth sense inherited from his mother and a passion for firearms, horses, and falconry from his father, Ibrahim Nasar. After his father's death, he quit his secondary school studies to take over the family ranch. Victoria Guzman, the family cook, strongly believes that the day of Santiago's death was not rainy. Her daughter, Divina Flor, served Santiago coffee and cane liquor, as she did every Monday. Santiago, in a flirtatious move, suggests it's time Divina Flor should be "tamed". Victoria Guzman, having been seduced by Santiago's father as a young girl, insists she'll never be tamed as long as she's alive. Both women had heard about a plot to kill Santiago, but doubted the reliability of the rumor. The arrival of the bishop's steamboat rouses the entire household. Divina Flor guides Santiago to the front door, which Santiago prefers to use when well-dressed. He leaves the house just as an ominous silence falls over the town. An unnoticed warning envelope sits under the door, foretelling Santiago's impending death. As crowds gather to meet the bishop, Santiago's killers, brothers Pedro and Pablo Vicario, wait at the local milk shop in their wedding suits, concealing knives wrapped in newspaper. The bishop, however, doesn't leave the boat, merely crossing himself until he's out of sight. Santiago accepts an invitation for breakfast from the narrator's sister, Margot, who finds him handsome and envies his betrothed, Flora Miguel. Santiago mentions he must first change into riding clothes. Meanwhile, rumors about Santiago's fate circulate, and everyone believes that Santiago has been warned of his imminent death. Margot learns that Angela Vicario, yesterday's bride, was found not to be a virgin and has been sent back to her parents' home, creating confusion about Santiago's involvement in the situation. Upon hearing this, Margot informs her mother, Luisa Santiaga, who rushes to alert Placida about the threat to Santiago's life. However, she's stopped by a passer-by delivering the unsettling news of Santiago's death.

chapter 2

The tale of Bayardo San Roman, Angela Vicario's betrothed, is detailed by the narrator. Bayardo, a youthful looking man of thirty, comes to town seeking a wife and is instantly drawn to Angela, whom he first spots in mourning clothes. He witnesses her again during a raffle, buying all the tickets, winning a mother-of-pearl music box, and gifting it to her on her birthday. Her family, the Vicarios, live modestly. Her father, Poncio, a blind goldsmith, and her mother, Purisima del Carmen, a former teacher, have raised Angela to be the loveliest among her siblings. To win the family's approval, Bayardo introduces his own family, including his renowned father, General Petronio San Roman, his mother, Alberta Simonds, once dubbed the Antilles' most beautiful woman, and his two sisters. Despite family approval, Angela is not keen to marry Bayardo. Nevertheless, their engagement lasts a mere four months. Bayardo asks which house she prefers and purchases it for her from widower Xius, despite Angela choosing a home that was initially not for sale. The secret that Angela is not a virgin is unknown to all. Their wedding is grand, filled with lavish gifts, and continual festivities. The narrator, his brother, Luis Enrique, and their friend Cristo Bedoya, accompany Santiago Nasar throughout this celebration. It's unfathomable to them that Santiago possesses such a significant secret. The narrator's recollections of the festival are fuzzy—he recalls proposing to Mercedes Barcha. After the wedding, the bride and groom depart for their new home. The narrator, Luis, Cristo, and Santiago head to Maria Alejandrina Cervantes' house, where the Vicario twins are also partying. At midnight, Pura Vicario is awakened by a knock on the door. It's Angela and Bayardo. Bayardo leaves Angela with Pura, expressing gratitude before departing. Pura, in fury, beats Angela, yet manages not to disturb the others sleeping in the house. When the twins return, they question Angela about her lost virginity. She confesses that Santiago Nasar is responsible.

chapter 3

The Vicario brothers reveal to the narrator that they started their search for Santiago Nasar at Maria Alejandrina Cervantes' place. Finding him absent, they proceed to Clothilde Armenta's milk shop, waiting for Santiago to appear. Upon hearing Santiago's name from Angela Vicario, the twins immediately select the best knives from the pigsty, wrap them, and get them sharpened at the meat market. The butcher, Faustino Santos finding their behavior odd, overhears them discussing their plan to kill Santiago. However, due to the twins' good reputation, their words aren't taken seriously. Faustino shares this information with a passing police officer. At Clothilde's shop, the twins consume two bottles of cane liquor and express their plan to kill Santiago. Clothilde informs her husband, Don Rogelio de la Flor, about it but he dismisses it as foolishness. Subsequently, the police officer reports the plot to Colonel Lazaro Aponte, who, tired from breaking up fights the previous night, doesn't act immediately. However, after learning about Angela's return from her wedding night, he connects the dots and retrieves the knives from the twins, thinking they are bluffing. The twins return home, grab different knives, and get them sharpened again, leading to Faustino's confusion. Pedro decides to kill Santiago, and Pablo commits to stick to the plan. Prudencia Cotes, Pablo's fiancée, supports their action, promising to marry him only after he avenges his sister's honor. She waits for him throughout his jail term and marries him upon his release. The brothers return to the milk shop, armed with knives wrapped in newspaper from Prudencia's house. Clothilde serves them rum, hoping to get them so drunk they can't act. The narrator then paints a picture of Maria's house, filled with music, dance, and "pleasurable mulatto girls." He credits Maria for ending his generation's virginity. However, on the night prior to the murder, Santiago is denied his usual activity of dressing up Maria's girls. Thus, Santiago, Cristo Bedoya, Luis Enrique, and the narrator, accompanied by musicians, embark on a serenading spree. Finally, Clothilde shares the murder plan with Father Carmen Amador, who forgets about it due to the Bishop's visit. He unknowingly passes by the milk shop where the would-be murderers are poised to strike.

chapter 4

Because of Doctor Dionisio Iguaran’s absence, the mayor commands Father Carmen Amador to conduct Santiago Nasar's autopsy. Assisted by a pharmacist and a freshman med student, they conduct it in a local school. The verdict is death by a severe bleed caused by one of seven lethal injuries. After a haphazard autopsy, they hastily bury the body. Post the autopsy, the narrator visits Maria Alejandrina Cervantes, who refuses to sleep with him as he smells of Santiago. The Vicario brothers echo the same sentiment, unable to cleanse his scent off them or sleep. They end up in the local jail, and Pablo Vicario suffers from diarrhea. The Vicario family leaves town. Angela Vicario departs with her face concealed to hide her mother-inflicted bruises, and dressed in red to ward off any assumption of mourning for her clandestine lover. Poncio Vicario dies not long after. The brothers get shifted to a prison in Riohacha, a day's distance from Manaure, their new home town. Pablo Vicario, who becomes a goldsmith in jail, marries Prudencia Cotes three years later when she moves to Manaure. Pedro Vicario, the other twin, reenlists in the military and disappears. A week post-murder, the mayor discovers Bayardo San Roman alcohol poisoned and close to death in his bed. Dr. Iguaran treats him, but the moment he recovers, Bayardo throws them out. General Petronio San Roman, his father, gets informed, and his wife and daughters arrive in mourning, barefoot, wailing, to take Bayardo back. Angela Vicario ends up in a place named Guarija, earning a living through embroidery. When the narrator visits her, she appears older, wearing glasses, with gray hair, but exhibits maturity and wit. When asked about Santiago Nasar being the one who took her virginity, she maintains her claim, even though no one ever saw them together. The narrator opines that the real tragedy for Angela is Bayardo's perennial presence in her life after he returns her home, leading her to obsess over him. She confesses that her tears post her mother's beating were not for the incident but for Bayardo. Angela starts penning letters to him. She persists in this weekly ritual for seventeen years until one day he arrives at her workplace. He is heavier, balding and declares, "'Well, here I am." He brings two suitcases, one with clothes, another filled with her unopened letters, sorted by date, wrapped in colored ribbons.

chapter 5

The local community was long haunted by Santiago Nasar's murder, largely viewing it as an honor killing they couldn't interfere with. Santiago's mother, Placida Linero, was consumed with guilt for misreading her son's premonition of his death, having mistaken it for a sign of good fortune. Almost two weeks later, an investigating magistrate began probing the crime. The narrator's knowledge of the magistrate is mostly drawn from notes scribbled in the margins of the case brief he found two decades later. The magistrate was particularly troubled by the lack of evidence proving Santiago had deflowered Angela Vicario, who had pointedly accused him despite providing no details. The narrator shares his own belief that Santiago died without comprehending the reason for his death. The town folk's intense stares on the day of his death confirmed the grim foreshadowing. A shopkeeper, Yamil Shaium, tried to warn Santiago about the impending murder, prompting Santiago's friend Cristo Bedoya to leave him to verify the threat. Alone, Santiago headed home to change before breakfast with the narrator's sister. Cristo, upon learning of the Vicario brothers' plot, desperately tried to locate Santiago. He found Santiago's house empty, seizing an unloaded firearm from his bedside in his panic. As townsfolk gathered anticipating the crime, Cristo informed Colonel Lazaro Aponte about the threat. The Colonel, having previously confiscated the Vicarios' knives, initially dismissed the warning but soon realized the brothers had acquired new weapons. Unfortunately, he was too late, and the murder was carried out before he could intervene. Santiago, oblivious to the danger, had been with his betrothed, Flora Miguel. She was aware of the murder plot and angrily handed Santiago his letters, hoping he would die so she could avoid a forced marriage to Angela. Santiago left Flora's house, confused and unaware of the imminent threat. Despite shouts for him to run, Santiago reached his home just as his mother had closed the door, misled into thinking Santiago was already safe inside. He was ambushed by the Vicario brothers, who stabbed him repeatedly. Despite grievous wounds, Santiago managed to walk a considerable distance around his home before collapsing in his kitchen.

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