An analysis of communism and religion in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Topics: Catholic Church, Gabriel García Márquez, Marxism Pages: 5 (1515 words) Published: June 4, 2010
Saqr � PAGE �1�

Eyad Saqr

Ms. Schwettmann IB English 11-1,474

February 4, 2008

A Capitalist Congregation:

Marxist Commentary on Hegemonic Powers in _Chronicle of a Death Foretold_

In the twentieth century, South Americans faced a dilemma: to succumb to the capitalist ideals of the western world or to surrender to the communist beliefs of Marx and Engels. Through symbol-laden texts, writers communicated their beliefs concerning the two economic ideologies. In his acclaimed novel _Chronicle of a Death Foretold_, Gabriel García Marquez vindicates Marxist ideals through his portrayal of the Catholic Church as a manipulative hegemon that cripples its people. These townsfolk become drones because of the local bishop's stranglehold on his followers. By portraying the townspeople as desensitized drones, Marquez characterizes the town as the novel's most corrupt regime through the inevitable death of his protagonist, Santiago Nasar.

In defense of his socialist beliefs and Marxist ideals, Gabriel García Marquez creates a capitalist villain in the town's bishop to illustrate the unjust hegemonic nature of the Catholic Church with respect to its treatment of the townspeople. Marquez posits the idea that although it had humble beginnings during the time of Christ, the Church has grown to be the most influential force in history, accruing monetary aid from its worldwide followers. Marquez strongly criticizes the Church's affluence and its resemblance to a hierarchical corporation, characterized by a few dominant figureheads and masses of bottom feeders. The first and most obvious condemnation of the Catholic Church occurs with the arrival of the bishop. Santiago Nasar's mother, Placida Linero, is the moral compass of the novel and serves as a vessel to relay the views of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. She symbolizes integrity and traditional morals and "show[s] no sign of interest" in the bishop's arrival, claiming he will "give an obligatory blessing, as always, and go back the way he came" because he detests the town (8 Marquez). Through the trustworthy Placida Linero, Marquez presents his anti-Church sentiments, the mindset critical of the Church and its treatment of the townspeople. Placida Linero suggests that the bishop's "obligatory blessing" is nothing more than a formality, a ritual which loosely and superficially binds the upper echelon of the Catholic Church to the impoverished townspeople. She explains how the bishop "go[es] back the way he came," highlighting his isolation from the townspeople and his position as a foreigner. Marquez illustrates the insensitivity of capitalism and its ability to leave even the most religious people devoid of conviction. Although Placida Linero portrays the bishop as distant and insensitive, "Church pomp" nevertheless fascinates Santiago Nasar, who claims it is "like the movies" (8 Marquez). Through Santiago, Marquez first illustrates the town's "fascination" with the Church, categorizing it as an addiction. Marquez deepens his disapproval by utilizing "pomp" in his description of the bishop, accentuating the Church's flamboyant nature. Considering that in Church language, pomp is defined as "a worldly display" or "a vain show" (Harper), Marquez uses strong irony through diction to further his disapproval of the bishop. He utilizes this powerful word just as the Catholic Church does: as a depreciatory term that looks down upon those who flaunt their possessions. Marquez chooses a word that the Catholic Church itself uses to criticize those who are materialistic and uber-capitalist to illustrate the Church's hypocrisy and dominance over its followers.

"Placida Linero was right: the bishop [does not] get off his boat" (Marquez 16). Marquez uses the bishop's short-lived visit to condemn the Church, specifically concerning its relations with the townspeople. "Everywhere one could see the crates of well-flattened roosters [the townspeople] were bearing as a gift for the bishop…...

Cited: Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. _Chronicle of a Death Foretold_. Trans.Gregory Rabassa. New York: Vintage-Random House, 1982.
"pomp." _Online Etymology Dictionary_. Douglas Harper, Historian. 31 Jan. 2008. .
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