Issues of Columbian Machismo Culture in 'Chronicle of a Death Foretold'

Through Gabriel García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold, there are some areas of cultural and societal beliefs in the Columbian culture that can be seen. Although there are bound to be more beliefs that have not been shown in this book in particular, one very common belief is shown in this book and that is called machismo.

Machismo is the idea that all men have to be extremely masculine, in other words they have to portray a strong alpha male, typically one that does not have a sentimental side. This idea is pushed onto the men of the Columbian society so much so that men in the Columbian society sometimes make decisions that they regret.

In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel García Márquez shows just how important machismo is in their society, as well as the pressure that is put on men to fulfill the idea and keep their image of machismo through the use of characters and their actions as well as the physical results of those actions.

When Bayardo comes into town, he chooses Angela Vicario as his wife and asks her which house she liked best. Angela, not knowing his intentions of buying the house, responds that the best one was the farmhouse belonging to widower Xius. When Bayardo tries to buy it, Xius repeatedly declines the offer, telling Bayardo that his house hasn’t got a price. Gabriel García Márquez implies here that the house held lots of sentimental value to Xius, who felt that it was still a part of his wife because of all the objects contained inside that his wife had bought over a whole lifetime of sacrifice. Gabriel García Márquez includes this detail to show us how much he truly does not want to sell the house.

However, when Bayardo San Roman shows up with ten bundles of thousand-peso notes with the printed bands of the state bank still on them, Xius is no longer able to refuse, since Bayardo is offering the money in cash all at that very moment. If Xius was to continue to refuse Bayardo’s offer, people would realize that Xius’s emotional attachment to the house is bigger than what the Columbian Society had deemed acceptable in terms of machismo. Be that as it may, Xius still does not actually want to sell the house.

Two months after he sells the house, Xius dies of what is, most likely, heartbreak despite being healthier than the rest of the characters. Dr. Dionisio Iguarán also adds in the fact that if his heart was listened to with a stethoscope you could hear the tears bubbling inside his heart. Gabriel García Márquez adds this detail in to further propel the idea that Xius died of heartbreak over the selling of his house, which was once again brought on by the pressure put on him by the Columbian society to fit into the idea that he has machismo. What happened to Xius, however, is only a small example in the story, especially if he gets compared to the Vicario twins, who killed Santiago.

Throughout the book, the twins express a strong desire to kill Santiago Nasar, however the twins don’t actually want to kill him. Rather, they want to be able to just say that they are going to kill him, and have someone stop them. This way, the honor of the family will be restored through the machismo of the twins and nobody would have to die. This is why, throughout the book, the twins are very open in their plan to kill Santiago Nasar.

The fact that the twins were only saying that they wanted to kill Santiago because they wanted to restore their honor as a family and to fulfill the societal ideals of machismo can be supported by the fact that they did not explicitly tell anyone they came across the reasoning behind wanting to kill Santiago. Instead, if anyone asked why they were going to kill him, the twins would respond with Santiago Nasar knows why or He knows why.

This can be seen as a subliminal message to talk to Santiago Nasar and warn him that the twins are trying to kill him. However no one does this, nobody warns Santiago or tries to stop the twins from killing Santiago. They do not ask Santiago Nasar what it was that he did to make the twins want to kill him. Therefore, the twins must be true to their word and try to kill Santiago Nasar or else they’ll be seen either as liars for not being true to their word, as well as cowards who can’t protect their family honor.

Through Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel García Márquez shows how much pressure there is on men in the Colombian Society to fit into the ideology of machismo and the physical effects of the stress that results from all that pressure, through the use of characters like Xius and the Vicario twins. The twins demonstrate so as well, with their insomnia and constipation, or diarrhea. These characters show that the pressure is so large, some people will do things they would never do otherwise, and that the stress from the pressure is so large, it can manifest itself into physical pain and/or a psychological disorder.

07 July 2022
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