" 'The truth is I didn't know what to do,' he told me. 'My first thought was that it wasn't any business of mine but something for the civil authorities, but then I made up my mind to say something in passing to Placida Linero.' Yet when he crossed the square, he'd forgotten completely. 'You have to understand,' he told me, "that the bishop was coming that day.'"

This quote is taken from the end of the third chapter; the speaker is Father Amador. Father Amador is an example of the many authority figures who all had the power to stop the crime, but ended up being completely ineffective in preventing it. The bishop, the priest, a police officer, and the Colonel had all been warned that Santiago Nasar was going to be murdered, and yet none of them took this news seriously enough to take effective preventative action.

The book calls the so-called "authority" of these characters into question. They all fail not only to rise above cultural prejudices and personal weakness, but also to recognize the severity of the event that was about to occur. Their failure allows the town's view to prevail. Prudencia Cotes illustrates the gravity that the townspeople afforded matters of honor when she tells us that she would not have married Pablo Vicario if he had not killed Santiago Nasar. And after the murder, the official verdict seemed to indicate that the Vicarios' action was just-the twins were only sentenced to three years in prison.