Chronicle of a Death Foretold

by: Gabriel García Márquez

Important Quotations Explained

"We'd been together at Maria Alejandrina Cervantes' house until after three, when she herself sent the musicians away and turned out the lights in the dancing courtyard so that her pleasurable mulatto girls could get some rest…Maria Alejandrina Cervantes was the most elegant and the most tender woman I have ever known, and the most serviceable in bed, but she was also the strictest. She'd been born and reared here, and here she lived, in a house with open doors, with several rooms for rent and an enormous courtyard for dancing lit by lantern gourds bought in the Chinese bazaars of Paramaribo."

This quote, taken from the middle of the third chapter, highlights another way that magic realism works within the narrative. Maria Alejandrina Cervantes is a whore, but the description of her persona and her home does not seem to condemn her or her girls for their profession, which comes as a surprise in a culture that censors women's sexuality so strictly. In the novel, Maria is not depicted as a shameful woman with a dirty profession, but as a beautiful woman who taught all the men of the community about sex. It seems that women in this Colombian culture can either accept the strict social codes governing their sexuality, or they can completely discard them; no in-between is presented.

Márquez's incorporation of details such as the musicians, the dancing courtyard, and the lanterns all make Maria's house seem like some sort of paradise with colored lamps; it seems a far cry from the neon glow of a red light district in a city. This illumination of the mundane by means of almost fantastical imagery is notable in this instance because it praises something that is usually degraded. Márquez's use of magical realism allows him to avoid invoking traditional cultural perceptions when he so desires, and present reality in a refreshing way to the reader.