Women in Chronicle of a Death ForetoldIn Márquez “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” women are portrayed as the victims of a patriarchal society. Patriarchy is a social system where men have the primary power and are dominating the leading positions in political, religious, social and financial institutions.
The novell gives an understanding of how the patriarchy was compiled during the 1950s Latin America.The gender roles are easily seen through the text, women were supposed to be housewifes and do unpaid work without question it. There are many indications that women have no choice in the novella, like when Bayardo San Roman tells the landlady “When I wake up,” he said, “remind me that i’m going to marry her.” (pg 29)At this point it’s clear that Angela Vicario has nothing to say about it, she is powerless. Angela Vicario and her sister were raised by their mother to become good housewifes, they aren’t allowed to go out late at night and spend a lot of their time sewing. Angela was forced by her family to marry Bayardo, but not because they wanted to be evil. They saw the rich and powerful man Bayardo San Roman as an insurance. If she would marry him they wouldn’t have to worry about the future.
“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.'” (pg 31)The women in this Colombian small town was not supposed to have dreams or get a job, their whole existence revolves around the man whom they once will have to marry. No woman that enters a marriage expects happiness and freedom, they are taught to hide their feelings and emotions in accordance with the unfair standards of the orthodox patriarchal society. But even if the women surely are the victims, everyone will be affected.
The Vicario brothers were brought up to be men. They were supposed to strong, brave and loyal, but most important, not show any feminine characteristics in any way. Márquez does not tell about how the men in this Colombian town was oppressed, but they surely was. If a women showed masculine characteristics, she should stop and know her place, and if a man was too feminine, he should stop degrading himself and show some respect for his family. The novella does not only reflect the way women are exploit and silenced, it also shows the different ways women resistances to this oppressive system. Angela Vicario knows she can fake her purity on the wedding night, but she refuses too. Her friends had learned her tips and tricks on how to conceal the fact she is virgin, but she refuses to back down.
She even defend herself by accusing Santiago Nasar to be the perpetrator. Márquez made Angela Vicario into a feminist icon but not a “winner”. The consequences of her lack of respect for the patriarchal society is very harsh on her. She was sent away from the town for many years, worthless with no dignity. The novella is probably not celebrating Angela Vicario as a feminist role model. There are lots of evidence that shows it was not Santiago Nasar who took her virginity, and this makes Angela vicario look like a false accuser. Women are a minority in this society, but how can half of the population be a minority? The term “minority” is more about power than about numbers, the people who have the power of society are the majority, and the others are the minority.
(Encyclopedia Britannica 2015) If Angela Vicario representing women, then this novella is describing women as immoral. Women can just point at any “innocent” man and accuse him for anything. Many years after Santiago Nasar was killed the narrator visits Angela and she speaks freely about the past with no shame. She answers the narrators questions with humor even though her mother wants her to stop talking. Maybe Angela Vicario should have listened on her mother in the first place. Angela Vicario only dared hint at the inconvenience of a lack of love, but her mother demolished it with a single phrase: “Love can be learned too”. pg 20Her mother says the love can be learned and many years after Santiago Nasar was killed, she falls in love with Bayardo San Roman.
Angela Vicario might represent most women in the Colombian town but not Maria Alejandrina Cervantes. She is not a good house wife in any way and is the only women who actually is equal to the men. “Maria Alejandrina Cervantes, about whom we used to say that she would go to sleep only once and that would be to die, 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.” (pg 47)Maria is a prostitute but her name comes from Virgin Mary which makes it contradictory, as the title, Chronicle of the Death Foretold.
Her name can also come from Maria Magdalen who was one of Jesus followers. In the Christian Roman Orthodox Church was Maria Magdalen seen as a prostitute (Carol. B 2010). The novella celebrates Marias sexuall experience, no one takes her virginity, she takes men´s virginity. She is a independent women, makes her own money and as a prostitute she does not need to follow the unwritten rules as all the other women.
Maria is one of the few, maybe the only, characters who actually is loved. Santiago Nasar respects her and treat her more than just a prostitute and she consider him to be more than just a regular customer. So Maria stands over the society in many ways, but how can such a religious society accept that? The Roman Catholic Church regarded all sexual activity outside of marriage as a sin but prostitution was tolerated as they thought it could prevent worse sins like homosexuallity and masturbation. (Melissa Hope Ditmore, 2006)This might be one of the reasons why Maria have a good reputation. Women are not supposed to have any sexual intercore before marrige, men are on the other hand expected to be experienced. Maria might not be liked by everyone, but she had a meaningful purpose in the town.
The mistreatment of women is seen throughout the book and especially the double standards. Men can do everything they want and the women must obey. The patriarchal society is so strong and complied that they even tolerate prostitutes. If prostitution is what required to keep the patriarchate, then there will be prostitutes.
The only women who actually rebels against the society is Angela Vicario but did it make any difference? Angela is portrayed both as a false accuser and a strong women, neither she nor anyone else is the hero of this story. There is simple no hero in this story, it describes the culture in the small Colombian town and how Justice never is Universal.