A public spectacle occurs when the performance of the strange autopsy for Santiago Nasar is in the hands of the village priest, who is carless about Santiago’s body, in the novel “Chronicle of a Death Foretold”. In the story Santiago is killed by the Vicario brothers, Pedro and Pablo. Before Santiago was murdered he was being accused of sleeping with Angela, and taking her virginity. This created a lot of hell and embarrassment for Santiago throughout the town, and caused people to have zero respect for him. Once Santiago was dead, and the autopsy took place, the town wanted to be a part of what was going on.
It appeared that the people wanted to continue to embarrass Santiago by making his autopsy public, even though he was already dead. The autopsy that took place on Santiago’s body was interesting. As we know, usually autopsies are performed in private by trained medical examiners. Autopsies are initially done to determine how ones death came about. However, during the story everyone already knew how Santiago was murdered and who murdered him, so it appeared that the autopsy was done to almost re-murder him again.
The mayor in the town ordered the village priest to perform Santiago Nasar’s autopsy, along with the help of a druggist, who took notes, and a first year medical student, who was in town on vacation. During a normal autopsy, this would likely not happen because none of these people had the full credentials to carry out this type of procedure, except the priest who had little experience, however was not a trained professional for this procedure. The narrator in the story explained that when the autopsy took place it was massacre-like.
The priest was incautious with Santiago’s body and handling the procedure. The carelessness stemmed from the loss of respect for Santiago for what everyone believed he did to Angela. Because the priest was not cautious with the body during the autopsy, once completed Santiago Nasar was unrecognizable. His body was an empty shell which the priest stuffed with rags and quicklime. Seven wounds on Santiago’s body were fatal from when he was intentionally brutalized by Pedro and Pablo for a crime that the reader does not really know if he committed.
Then Santiago is re-victimized through the carelessness of the priest’s autopsy. The maltreatment of Santiago leaves blood on everyone’s hands, from the Vicario brothers themselves to the city as a whole. Essentially all that happened with Santiago’s autopsy, was an already brutalized body being re-brutalized, and to such degree that a proper burial could not take place. The stench from Santiago Nasar’s corps was brutal. The vigorous smell ran through the whole town.
It appeared as if instead of Santiago haunting the town with his spirit, he left his mark with a daunting smell. This smell started out when Pedro and Pablo were killing him: Pablo Vicario, who was on his left, then gave him the only stab in the back and a spurt of blood under high pressure soaked his shirt. “It smelled like him,” he told me. (5. 73) The Vicario brothers washed and scrubbed themselves with soap and rags, but no matter how much they did wash they “couldn’t get the smell out. (78) Pedro Vicario informed the narrator of this and how they went three nights without sleep because when they started to drift away they would commit the crime all over again. The narrator said the quote of how the entire town smelled of Santiago after Maria Alejandrina Cervantes denied him because he smelled of Santiago.
She had a special connection to Santiago and could not go on with the normal routine in her life. This quote relates to the plot of the novel because it shows how the entire town is engulfed in this ragedy. “For years they [the town] couldn’t talk about anything else. Our daily conduct, dominated by so many linear habits, had suddenly begun to spin around a single common anxiety. ” (96) This quote also shows how the scent could also symbolize the guilt and significance of the murder and how it hovers over everyone in the town. In chapter 5 it shows how all the people in the town were tragically affected by the murdered.
When Pedro and Pablo were in their jail cell, they continued to have the stench of Santiago. That’s when they realized that they were being haunted by the guilt of what they had done to Santiago Nasar. Santiago’s scent continued to linger around town, and the town’s guilt could not be “washed” away. Everyone knew they could have done something to stop this horrible crime but did not. It seemed as though everyone was still very upset about the crime Santiago was being accused of committing, once he was murdered.
It appeared that they still wanted to teach him a lesson by giving him a horrible autopsy and deforming his body even though he was already dead. However, even though they were trying to get rid of him, everyone around town and the Vicario brothers could not get rid of the stench of Santiago. This lead to the community being reminded every day that they could have done something to stop this horrific crime but did not. Everyone involved had that guilt constantly lingering around them, including Pedro and Pablo while they sat in their jail cells.