Unreliable narration is a technique where thenarrator makes outrageous claims and gives endless justification for shockingacts.
The writer employees the unreliable narrator because readers trust themfor a while as the story proceeds before realizing that something is amiss.Garcia Marquez is an unreliable narrator because he has incomplete informationand is also dishonest. Where can these narrators be useful? Probably to createhorror or supernatural fiction. Mostly because readers make conjectures basedon clues that are given by narrators who do not always accurately interpretevents. Garcia tricks the readers in a way that the readers wonder increasinglyabout the truth of events described by him. The report of events on the day ofthe murder provided by Marquez is ambiguous and he leaves the judgment up tothe readers.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
The readers thus fail to understand that the narrator is not thefinal voice of truth, authority and confuse the narrator with the author.Garcia recollects thepast in relation to the events through a technique called “back grounding” dueto which he shifts the story back and forth. It is also due to this that thestory is not in a chronological order. The first chapter concentrates onSantiago’s final minutes of life (line) while the second talks about thewedding night of Bayardo and Angela and her return to the house, the thirdconcentrating on the decision of Vicario brothers to kill Santiago, the fourthdealing with Santiago’s autopsy, report of the murder and leaving of Bayardoand Angela’s family from the town while the fifth deals with the neutralreactions of the townspeople regarding the murder. To fictionalize the storyfrom the beginning, he clarifies what personality and features characters haveand talks about their relationship with one another, the kind of life they liveand eventually supporting events of the main event. In literature, thenarrative I is neither stable nor unified rather it is split and fragmented.One can read or “hear,” this disintegration in the multiple voices throughwhich the narrator voices in the text. Garcia wasn’t an eyewitness to the crimewhich inevitably means that he would have to combine autobiographical andfictional elements.
He would thus shift the focus from what happened to how ithappened. We see that the narrator has exact details about minor things likethe time as far as Santiago’s movements are concerned. He gathers minor bits ofinformation, which do not contribute much to the story. As the book progresses,a new voice adds to our composite knowledge of the events of the day of themurder, also revising and undermining the information which has preceded it. The narrator tricks the readers byrepeating and diverting towards minor things that do not actually contributemuch to the development of the crime revelation. He also uses memory to trickthe readers. He admits that “I had a very confused memory of the festivalbefore I decided to rescue it piece by piece from the memory of others”(Marquez,43). The evolving narrative I combines both the factual and fictionaldetails that belong to felt history and in turn dominates Garcia’sautobiography because what interests him is not the description of the eventbut the subjective impression it made on him and how he looked at it and livedit.
The novella is structured according to open pluralities of temporalities.The narrative moves back and forth, mixing interviews with the accounts of thenarrator, who returns to the town only after 27 years of the murder, to “put the broken mirror ofmemory back together from so many shards.” (Marquez, 5) From the beginning tillthe end, it is evident that something is going to happen, Santiago had to bekilled by Angela’s brothers as he deflowered her which appears to conform tothe journalistic style of narration that is commonly characterized as ‘what,who, when, where, whom, how and why’ technique. This means that the readers areinformed in advance about what is going to happen for instance the opening…,when, where and to whom will it happen. However, it is ironical that Santiagohimself is unaware of the fact that he is going to be killed. This means thewhy of his death is not very clear.
This prolepsis adds to the narration of thestory at a point before the mentioning of the early events. The narrator, Santiago Nasar , Luis Enrique, and CristoBedoya are very good friends , it is ironical that nobody observe anything implicatingabout Santiago’s demeanour. Santiago spends most of his last hours with hisfriends trying to compute the exact cost of the wedding celebrations.
Thenarrator reminisces: “I was with him all the time in the Church…all the more sosuch a big secret.” The narrator’sobservations cannot be considered decisive. As we proceed, it is revealed thatthe narrator has a sensual connection with Maria Alejandrina Cervantes.However, this was kept a secret from Santiago as the narrator didn’t want towound his friend’s feelings.
The novel repeatedly dents the authority of thenarrator through such observations. However, the narrator does not realize thatif he can keep a secret from his friend, the obverse is also possible. Marquezexaggerates the happenings. The narrator manages to locate 322 pages of theoriginal 500 page brief prepared by the investigating magistrate. He appears tobe a man well versed in literary texts and undermines his legal document withnotes in the margin that verge on the lyrical. The magistrate is “perplexed bythe enigma that chance had touched him with.” (Marquez, 100) Like a good portion of investigative journalism the storycreates inquisitiveness about the way in which the murder will be carried out.
The narrator collects details which convey the imprint of a thorough documentlist: “After their sister revealed the name to them… a half inches wide.”(Marquez,50-51) However, the collection of details is never unintentional. Thedescription about Ibrahim Nasar’s house,descriptions about the gifts brought by guests at Bayardo and Angela’s wedding,are suggestive of the lofty position relished by both Bayardo and Santiago .The callousness of Santiago’s killing is brought to the forefront by therealistic autopsy report. The narrator keeps up the reportorial style by recordingthe exact time and every movement of Santiago on the day of his murder:”Furthermore; all the many people…a beautiful day.
” (Marquez,2) “The publicspree…with Santiago Nasar five hours before killing him.” (Marquez,45) Does this vigilant documentation of facts help thenarrator decode Santiago’s demise? Or does this tactic of Marquez divertreaders’ attention from the real cause? The journalistic style is prudentlycultivated only to uncover its complete scantiness as a way to comprehendSantiago’s demise. The narrator undermines his own attempts by uniting theidiosyncratic impression of the characters.
However, his own observations arealso recorded. When he finally encounters Bayardo about whom he read in hismother’s letters, he writes: “I met him…he seemed like a very sad man tome.”(Marquez, 27). Most of the time, the subjectivity edges on the surreal forinstance, when Santiago dressed in white clothes, crosses the square on his wayto the docks so as to welcome the bishop: “Clotilde Armenta, the proprietressof the establishment…He already looked like a ghost,” she told me.”(Marquez, 13) Garcia utilizes magic realism in relation to a suspensionof disbelief.
He vividly describes events that do not contribute much to thestory, suspending the reader’s belief. Forinstance, the description of the rifles that he kept in his closet, thedescription of how “the bullet wrecked the cupboard in the room” passing”through the dining room” all lead to the suspension of disbelief. Anotherparticular event which exemplified this was when Santiago exclaims “Don’t be asavage,” “Make believe it was a human being” upon seeing Victoria Guzmanthrowing the insides of the rabbits to the panting dogs. This scene is meant tobring the reader into the story and have us feel what the character wasfeeling. Therefore, by doing this it suspended our disbelief. Thus, by doingthis Garcia is successful in making his readers believe in something surreal. Marquez’s writingis so complicatedly fastened with surreal concepts that it has defined thegenre of Magic Realism.
He illustrates a world so implausible that it is impossibleto understand what is real. Nonetheless, questions of discerning the truth inhis novel will never stop being asked. However, Marquez achieves his originalintent of using opinion and perception to create ambiguity. Though “There had never been a deathmore foretold” (Marquez, 50) it could be claimed that the statement would be wellread as There has never been a death more muddled.