IB World Lit Paper 2 Virginity In Chronicle Of A Death Foretold Be Gabriel Garcia Marquez And Like Watr For Chocalate

Eric Orr

Latin American society has placed a very high value on women being virgins when they marry. This value is one of the primary themes in Chronicle of a Death foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In contrast, virginity does not appear to hold significance in Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. However this is only on the surface but as one delves into the deeper meanings of each book it almost seems as if the authors view this social doctrine as childish. Throughout the stories contained within both books, a mockery is made out of the idea that celibacy is for those not yet married.

The plot of Chronicle of a Death Foretold is totally based on the understanding that maintaining a woman’s virginity is important enough to kill for and conversely that anyone violating this social moray was risking death. Virginity is viewed as synonymous with honor. This aspect is what Garcia Marquez challenges with the use of irony. Throughout the book, he inserts aspects that speak directly to the importance of this theme and reinforces this concept by use of several devices, of which irony is the most prominent.
“No one would have thought, nor did anyone say, that Angela Vicario wasn’t a virgin. She hadn’t known any previous fiancé and she’d grown up along with her sisters under the rigor of a mother of iron. Even when it was less than two months before she would be married, Pura Vicario wouldn’t let her go out alone with Bayardo San Roman to see the house where they were going to live, but she and the blind father accompanied her to watch over her honor.”
The idea of protecting her virginity is so important as to have a blind father as a chaperone. This is absurd, to make a blind man to “watch” over Angela Vicario, and is how Gabriel Garcia Marquez ridicules the preconception of pre-marital virginity.
The societal value placed on these preconception is also demonstrated in small ways like the name of the mother, “Pura.” Pura in spanish means pure; virginity and pure in this society were one and the same. Pura’s sole purpose throughout the book is to keep Angela’s virginity safe from those who would puncture it, and to punish Angela for making the mistake of losing her virginity before marriage.
The ironic aspect of the book is that while women accepted and perpetuated this rule of society, they seem to almost, in a matter of fact manner, accept that many wouldn’t be “pure.” This is shown when they discuss how to disguise the lack of virginity.
Another irony is how prostitution is handled in the novel. It is accepted as a normal and is not looked upon with great disdain. However, it presents the concept and communicates the narrow and fatalistic view that young women can either be virgins or whores. The issue of Marquez’s, appears to be not that this veiw is limiting the future, but that society allows to have this veiw dictate ones\' life.
This value of virginity is intertwined in the religion which in Chronicle is portrayed as a seam in the fabric holding society together. The story revolves around the event of a visiting bishop. Religion is viewed as permeating every aspect of the society. It is essential to what they are all about as anything else they do. Marquez assumes we understand this and find it ludicrous. Metaphorically, religion and the concept of virginity are mocked when the bullet ricochets and ends up hitting a statue of the Virgin Mary, the ultimate symbol of virginity and purity in latin american culture. It seems to say that it is religion and symbols like the “Virgin” Mary, that provide the conflict that lead men to act fatalistically, without choice.

The value of virginity in Like Water for Chocolate like in Chronicle Of A Death Foretold, part of society. This is clearly stated by Chencha after the incident of her rape when she states, “You all know how men are, they wont eat off a plate that isn’t clean.” After she was defiled and treated so horribly, in her mind, she could not envision marriage