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Santiago Nasar’s Final Days Literary Analysis Essay

The only remembrance of Santiago Nasar is through the recollections of the people who have known him. Due to the arguments and controversies over Santiago’s murder, Santiago is still discussed by the townspeople in order to piece together the truth. Even decades later, the townspeople are still arguing over Santiago and therefore they are still remembering who Santiago was. As long as he is remembered by others, Santiago still continues to be alive and immortal. The tale of Santiago Nasar’s final days is weaved together collectively by the memories of the townspeople.

The narrator, a nameless protagonist, interviews the inhabitants of his hometown twenty-seven years later, in order to “put the broken mirror of memory back together from so many scattered shards” (Garcia Marquez 6). Each “shard” of a memory has a different perspective, together trying to piece together the mystery of Santiago’s death. The narrator himself has only vague recollections of the murder and so his knowledge — and by extent the reader’s knowledge — is an accumulation of the townspeople’s memories.

The narrator has to “rescue [his memory] piece by piece from the memory of others” (Garcia Marquez 43), and therefore our characterizations and interpretations of Santiago differ on the perspective from which the story is told. The narrator depends on others to remember the past, such as when he “saw Santiago in [his mother’s] memory” (Garcia Marquez 7). The narrator can see Santiago through a snapshot of Placida’s memories in that moment, but throughout the story, Santiago is presented through different memories and perspectives altering the way Santiago is perceived.

These snapshots are eventually collected by the narrator, giving a holistic view of Santiago to be passed down to others. There are three perspectives the story is told from: the memories of the townspeople, the notes of the investigating magistrate, and the narrator’s own opinions regarding the two. The perspectives illustrate the two types of memory, collective and individual, while the narrator becomes an accumulator of these memories. The composition of everyone’s memories allows for r multiple versions of how the event occurred.

Santiago is either demonized or glorified depending on the person’s own opinions of Santiago. Victoria Guzman, known notably for hating the Nasar bloodline, stated that “The sun warms things up earlier than in August” after Santiago’s death (Garcia Marquez 9). The other townspeople, however, “agreed that the weather was funereal” (Garcia Marquez 4), leading the reader to inquire which person was right. Even something as simple as the weather was highly disputed, leading the question of how much the novel itself can be taken factually.

Even though there are differences in the facts of the story, this perverted story is still recounted to others, leaving only essence of Santiago to be told to others and to live on through these memories. When the narrator is looking for a more objective view to decipher imagination from reality, he investigates the notes of the visiting magistrate who had catalogued his investigation and interviews in public record. The investigating magistrate is a man “burning with the fever of literature”, who often seeks complexity over simplicity (Garcia Marquez 99).

He sees the easy truths as only “marginal notes” not even worthy of being included in his official report (Garcia Marquez 12). The magistrate ignores ideas that are too simple to him; they are too boring in explaining what occurred and therefore his report addresses the incident lengthily, but imprecisely. Even with hundreds of papers of interviews, confessions, and personal notes, the narrator is no closer to solving if Santiago was truly guilty and deserved his death.

The magistrate is neither as uthoritative nor rational as his reputation dictates, leading his report to be tinged with false testimonies and “merry sketches” of bleeding hearts in blood colored ink (Garcia Marquez 100). Rather than an impartial view of the past, the official report only gives the narrator information already known through his own investigating. Neither the individual notes of the magistrate nor the collective viewpoints of the townspeople can solve the mystery of Santiago nor correctly describe his characterization, leading the essence of Santiago to continually be debated, even decades later.

The magical realism within some of the townspeople’s memories highlights the illogicalness of their interpretations of events and elucidates that memories are not definite facts. The fantastical elements of some of the memories emphasize the irrationality of the story, again questioning the fallibility of everyone’s memories, as well as the uncertainty of knowledge. For example, after Santiago dies, dozens of dogs “want to eat his guts” while his corpse lays rotting on the table (Garcia Marquez 73).

The dogs’ bloodthirstiness highlights the brutality of Santiago’s murder, but it seems illogical that all the dogs in town were focused on his death. The dogs “hadn’t stopped howling” since daybreak, all seemingly focused on Santiago similar to the entire town is focused on him (Garcia Marquez 73). The dogs illustrate the entire society’s single-minded focus on him as well as the vindictiveness that some of the citizens felt toward Santiago. In addition, when recounting the murder, Pedro Vicario states to the investigating magistrate that “the strange thing is that the knife kept coming out clean” (Garcia Marquez 118).

Santiago was stabbed seven times fatally along with numerous smaller cuts and wounds, but Pedro reports that the murder itself was not bloody. The supposed lack of blood illustrates that Pedro did not think of it as a murder, but as a justified honor killing. Santiago deserved to die in Pedro’s mind, which therefore may have influenced his memories. Memories become inherently unreliable as over time, as the townspeople and, humans in general, remember only what they choose to believe. Chronicle of a Death Foretold has a cyclic plot, with the story circling in on itself in order to replay Santiago’s murder through a different perspective.

The story is non-chronological and is told out of order, mimicking the way that memories are often not remembered sequentially. In addition, the story is told like clockwork, told repetitively through memories that essentially keep Santiago alive twenty-seven years after his death. Although most of the chapters end on an exclamation similar to “They’ve killed Santiago Nasar! ” the story is reconstructed again, with a new memory or voice telling the story, adding more pieces to solve the puzzle of Santiago Nasar’s murder (Garcia Marquez 71).

Santiago’s murder is retold in each chapter, but Santiago becomes ‘resurrected in the next where his last moments are replayed, up until the last chapter of the novel. The last sentence of the novel ends with the line “He went into his house through the back door that had been open since six and fell on his face in the kitchen”, again ending Santiago’s life, but this time ending the loop of Santiago’s death and his following resurrection (Garcia Marquez 120). The novel ends with no conclusion, paralleling the fact that Santiago’s murder has no conclusion or resolution.

Santiago dies with his innocence still in question, but the circumstances of his death causes Santiago to still be remembered and, therefore, to still be alive. Twenty seven years later, the only evidence of Santiago’s existence left is within the memories of the town. Most of these memories have become warped, with each individual creating their own version of the events that took place. Although each individual’s story is different, together the town collectively remembers Santiago and his murder, immortalizing him as they continue to admire or despise him.

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