CARLOS J. ALONSO


Writing and Ritual in
Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Gloomy Orion and the Dog
Are veiled; and hushed the shrunken seas
.

— T. S. ELIOT, "Sweeney among
the Nightingales"

If one were to take to the letter Chronicle of a Death Foretold's avowed generic filiation as reportage, one would have to acknowledge immediately that the narrator's performance in its entirety constitutes nothing short of a scandal. For, as is made evident throughout the novel, the investigator was a member of the community in which the events took place, a circumstance that puts in check the objectivity that his rhetorical posturing demands. Even if the narrator takes pains to establish early on that he was asleep when tragedy struck, his "participation" is implicitly recognized in the text when he himself refers to Santiago Nasar's death as a crime "for which we all could have been to blame." As if to underscore this fact, the novel is quite careful in establishing the complex web of relationships that tied the narrator to all the protagonists of the tragic plot. In addition, the narrator time and again expresses his agreement with a given witness's opinion in a formula that arises from shared communal experience: "'One night he asked me which house I liked the most,' Angela Vicario told me. 'And I answered, without knowing what he intended, that the prettiest house in town was the farmhouse belonging to the widower Xius.' I would have said the same" (my emphasis). Nevertheless, cloaked by the dispas-

____________________
From Gabriel García Márquez: New Readings, edited by Bernard McGuirk and Richard Cardwell. © 1987 by Cambridge University Press.

-257-

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