Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text's major themes.

Magical Realism

Gabriel García Márquez repeatedly uses strange, surreal details to highlight otherwise ordinary events. One instance of this is his description of the local brothel, which sounds so nice that the reader at first has trouble discerning what exactly Maria Alejandrina Cervantes does—though she is a whore, the description of her house is so beautiful that if one were to gloss over the description, they might perceive her house as an elegant domicile.

Márquez uses magical realism in Chronicle of a Death Foretold to illustrate anecdotal digressions or details about characters that are not at all essential to the plot, though they are interesting. In the opening of the book, the narrator discusses the dream that Santiago Nasar has right before his death: "He'd dreamed he was going through a grove of timber trees where a gentle drizzle was falling, and for an instant he was happy in his dream, but when he awoke he felt completely spattered with bird shit." This whimsical sort of detail works against the journalistic investigative style of the narrative, and sends the reader into several different conceptual areas between reality and fiction that he then has to disentangle.

Read more about magical realism in the context of Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.