How Is Family Honor Portrayed in the Novels Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Marquez and Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel?

1729 Words Mar 10th, 2012 7 Pages
How is family honor portrayed in the novels Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Marquez and Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel?

Honor can be perceived in different ways – to some it may be the integrity of their beliefs, while to others it may be a source of dignity and social distinction. In the context of Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Like Water for Chocolate, which are both set in Latin American cultures, the adherence to family honor and values are viewed as one of the highest moral obligations. Events and characters in both novels revolve around the notion of fulfilling the expectations brought on by the honor of family traditions. This idea of honor and its excessive bearing on morality is a questionable concept
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48]. The oxymoronic statement that “homicide”, in any situation, can be considered “legitimate” exposes the irrationality of honor; expressing Marquez’s view that honor, especially when linked with violence, is in fact, not honorable at all. Although the Vicario brothers are seen as the major perpetrators, everyone in the town played a role in the homicide. Society’s tacit complicity is evident when Prudencia Cote’s mother becomes aware of the brother’s intentions to murder Santiago Nasar, and instead of intervening, states “Honor doesn’t wait” [Marquez, pg. 63]. This personification of honor exaggerates its importance; portraying society’s view of honor being an unwritten code which precedes everything.

The empowering effect of honor on moral value is also apparent in Like Water for Chocolate when Treviño “restored the honor of his family” [Esquivel, pg. 195] by killing and cutting off the testicles of the man who raped his mother. This idea that an act as absurd and grotesque as cutting off a man’s testicles is needed to restore family honor ridicules the very precepts of honor. It is also established that this “was the only savage act that Treviño committed in is life” [Esquivel, pg. 195], this indicates that the blind pursuit of honor can lead even “refined” and “elegant” [Esquivel, pg. 95] men to brutality. Furthermore, the narrator describes this “savage act” to have

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