Classroom Novels: Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A man returns to a town where a murder had taken place 27 years earlier, a murder that everyone knew was going to happen. Gabriel Garcia Marquez' metaphysical mystery leaves readers scratching their heads, much like the man trying to get the truth.
Teachers may want to address the following issues in Chronicle of a Death Foretold:
- The role of fate: Amazing coincidences force the murderers' actions.
- Mob mentality: Citizens are quick to condemn the victim based on flimsy evidence.
- Honor: The loss of honor motivates the actions of each character.
Teachers may want to focus on the following literary devices:
- Irony: A man is killed by someone who doesn't want to kill him for a crime the victim did not commit. Everybody in the town knows the victim is to be killed except for the victim himself.
- Foreshadowing: The narrator writes an account of something that occurred years before and has the advantage of hindsight.
- Suspense: Although the reader knows a murder has been committed, the page must be turned.
- Plot: Events are not chronological.
- Flashback: The novel is narrated through a series of flashbacks.
- Roots: Because the novel is written by a Spanish speaker, it presents a good opportunity for teaching Latin Roots.
Readability and Appropriateness
The New York Review of Books calls Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "a deep, groping search into the gathering darkness of human intentions." The San Francisco Chronicle calls it "a masterpiece." The Christian Science Monitor says it's "as pungent and memorable as a sharp spice, an examination of the nature of complicity and fate... an exquisite performance. The Washington Post Book World labels it "a tour de force...in prose that is spare yet heavy with meaning. T-bone, a student in my 2nd period 12th grade basic English class says, "This book is bleeping tight, L-dog!"
Regardless of reading level, Chronicle of a Death Foretold captivates. It can be used with AP, honors, or average readers. A review of independent reading strategies may be helpful. The content may be too mature for younger readers. It is more suitable for a senior English class or one that focuses on Latino literature. If you choose to make this part of your curriculum, I suggest crafting a letter of warning that should include the following:
- The novel uses "inappropriate" language.
- It includes mature themes, including sexual innuendo.
- It narrates a murder.