Comparison of the female characters in Chronicle of a Death foretold
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Women today are made to feel empowered; they can do anything they set their minds to. Even though this is true, women are still often discriminated against in the workplace, at school, and even at home. Women are usually classified as the weaker sex and are not always treated as equal as men. Sexism plays a major role in today’s society and in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Her beauty in conjunction measured a woman’s worthiness as a wife with her ability to gracefully run all aspects of a household. A woman’s happiness in a marriage is not significant unless she is fortunate enough to marry someone she loves. In this Spanish culture, unlike Western culture, marriage is not based on love.
In the Colombian town where Victoria Guzman lived, women were considered lower than men. Men could do anything they wanted and have anything they wanted, including the women. For Ibrahim Nasar that meant Victoria Guzman, “She made love to him in secret for several years in the stables of the ranch, and he brought her to be a house servant when the affection was over” (9-10). Ibrahim Nasar only used Victoria Guzman for the sex. When he had gotten tired of her, he gave Victoria a Job in his house as the cook. As a result of what Ibrahim Nasar had done to her for all those years, Victoria had a fierce hatred toward his son, Santiago Nasar, and took all her anger out on him, “Nevertheless, she had so much repressed rage the morning of the crime that she went on feeding the gods with the insides of the other rabbits, just to embitter Santiago Nasar’s breakfast.
Victoria Guzman needed almost twenty years to understand that a man accustomed to killing defenseless animals could suddenly express such horror” (10). Victoria knew that the Vicario twins were going to kill Santiago, but she did not tell him. The reason she did not tell him might be because he is just like his father and she thinks that he needs to be taught a lesson. Victoria Guzman is still hurting from when Ibrahim Nasar took advantage of her. By not telling Santiago Nasar, Victoria felt like she had the advantage over Santiago.
Another woman in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, who was discriminated because of her sex, was Angela Vicario. She was not allowed to get a job or follow her own dreams. Angela was expected to get married and have a family, “The brothers were brought up to be men. The girls were brought up to be married. They knew how to do screen embroidery, sew by machine, weave bone lace, wash and iron, make artificial flowers and fancy candy, and write engagement announcements… my mother thought there were no better-reared daughters. They’re perfect, she was frequently heard to say. Any man will be happy with them because they’ve been raised to suffer.” Angela’s husband Bayardo San Roman left her after their wedding night because he discovered that she was not a virgin, she slept with Santiago Nasar. Men are allowed to sleep with any woman that they want before they are married and it is not a problem.
If a woman were to sleep with a man before they were married they would never be acceptable for marriage. After their marriage dissolved Angela wrote Bayardo San Roman many letters. Bayardo received the letters but never opened them, “She wrote a weekly letter for over half a lifetime. ‘Sometimes I couldn’t think of what to say,’ she told me, dying with laughter, ‘but it was enough for me to know that he was getting them.’ At first they were a fiancée’s notes, then little messages from a secret lover, perfumed cards from a furtive sweetheart, business papers, love documents…nevertheless, he seemed insensible to her delirium; it was like writing to nobody” (93-94). Although she Angela continued to write to Bayardo, they never spoke again and she eventually married someone else.
Another female character in Chronicle of a Death Foretold was Maria Alejandrina Cervantes. Maria Alejandrina Cervantes is a prostitute, but her description of herself and her home is a positive one. Maria is not depicted as a shameful woman with a dirty profession, but as a beautiful woman who taught all the men of the community about sex, ” We’d been together at Maria Alejandrina Cervantes’ house until after three, when she herself sent the musicians away and turned out the lights in the dancing courtyard so that her pleasurable mulatto girls could get some rest…Maria Alejandrina Cervantes was the most elegant and the most tender woman I have ever known, and the most serviceable in bed, but she was also the strictest. She’d been born and reared here, and here she lived, in a house with open doors, with several rooms for rent and an enormous courtyard for dancing lit by lantern gourds bought in the Chinese bazaars of Paramaribo” (49-50). Woman in the Colombian culture can either accept the social codes leading their sexuality, or they can abandon them.
Although women are made to feel empowered today it is a fairly new concept. Women have always been discriminated against and probably always will be. From Chronicle of a Death Foretold, we can see that although the women were discriminated against they went against the so-called “rules” of society and emerged from their oppression.