Sporting for Love

peregrine-falcon-flight

The opening words inscribed in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, The Chronicle of a Death Foretold, is a quote from Gil Vicente: “The pursuit of love is like falconry” (Marquez, vii). Before even beginning the story, Marquez gets the audience’s minds to compare two things that seem to have nothing in common. While falconry is a very gruesome hunting sport, the pursuit of love is (or at least should be) a very romantic, slow process, but this almost impossible comparison made by Vicente is brought to light through a narrator’s tale of Bayardo San Roman and Angela Vicario.

At a quick glance, falconry is nothing but an animal-controlling pastime that few people occupy their time with, but further research shows that falconry is a serious, well-admired sport. In Milan Vesely’s article on the rising popularity of falconry, it is stated that falconry, at least in the United Arab Emirates, “is still considered by many as the Arabian ‘Sport of Kings’” (Vesely, 1). As a “Sport of Kings”, it seems implied that only those who are the best of the best, or those who are of royalty, are able to partake in it, and with this information, a large parallel emerges between a falconer and Bayardo. Kings, who have everything and more, believe they are qualified to have falcons that hunt for them, and Bayardo believes that he is as justified as a king to have Angela, solely because he decided he wanted her. The falconers aren’t the only thing Bayardo is similar to; he is just as comparable to the falcons themselves. In the long run, the only thing that matters to a falcon is the prize of a kill at the end of a hunt. This desire, however emotionless it may be, strikes a familiar memory of Bayardo and how he picked Angela as a target out of the blue and relentlessly insisted on her being his wife: “[after seeing her for the first time] ‘When I wake up,’ [Bayardo] says, ‘remind me that I’m going to marry her’” (Marquez, 29).

Falcons are not the only bird alluded to throughout the text, however. In the first chapter of the book following Gil Vicente’s quote, the main character of the novel, Santiago Nasar, has a dream about being a bird. His mother then tells him, “’Any dream about birds means good health,’” and after thinking back to other literature texts, such as Edgar Allen Poe’s  poem, The Raven, it cannot be assumed that birds are necessarily a good sign (Marquez, 6). Knowing that Santiago had this dream the night before his death, the audience acquires a much pessimistic impression from birds. Later on, the narrator tells Santiago Nasar, “’A falcon who chases a warlike crane can only hope for a lifetime of pain’” (Marquez, 65). Here, the already tainted image of falcons was further diminished by revealing they cannot obtain everything with ease, just as Bayardo cannot effortlessly win Angela’s hand in marriage. Falcons are also emotionless when they catch their pray, just as Bayardo did not necessarily love Angela. As the narrator states, “It was Angela Vicario who didn’t want to marry him…[she] only dared to hint at the inconvenience of a lack of love” (Marquez, 34-35). Bayardo did not consider love as a crucial requirement to marrying Angela, and since there was no love between the “hunter” and the “hunted”, the marriage came following Bayardo’s brute force.

Just as falcons are merciless with their prey and “opportunistic and violent when attacking,” pursuers of love in Chronicle of a Death Foretold are persistent and vehement when attempting to secure a significant other (Vesely, 2). The one-sided attack on prey described in Marquez’s novel is seemingly not relatable to marriage at first, but the further the narrator illustrates Bayardo’s character, the clearer the relationship between falconry and the pursuit of love becomes.

 

Sources:

Márquez, Gabriel García. Chronicle of a Death Foretold. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983. Print.

Vesely, Milan. “Falconry Comes Into Its Own.” Middle East 385 (2008): 58-59. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.

Image source can be found here.

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