In Chapter 1, three references are made to the crowing of cocks on the morning of Santiago’s murder. This may be interpreted as a sign of betrayal. In the Bible, Jesus predicted that before the rooster crowed in the morning, his disciple Peter would deny him three times. In fact, Peter did deny knowing Jesus three times that morning. In a similar way, all the townspeople betray Santiago by failing to warn him of the plot against his life. Another possible significance for the cocks crowing is simply as a warning or “wakeup call” for the town in the hour before the murder.
Slaughtered animals are a motif in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. In Chapter 1, the cook, Victoria Guzmán, butchers rabbits and throws their guts to the dogs. In Chapter 4, it is Santiago who is butchered, and the dogs want to eat his guts. References are also made to butchering roosters, pigs, and other animals at various points in the book.
After the Vicario twins kill Santiago, they are unable to remove his smell from their skin, no matter how hard they scrub with soap and water. The smell of Santiago pervades the entire town. It symbolizes the guilt shared by the entire community for the senseless and needless death of an innocent man.
Dreams and Weather
Dreams and weather are recurring motifs in the novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold. In Chapter 1, the night before his murder, Santiago dreams that birds shit on him, which is a bad omen. Later in the novel, the narrator has a strange dream about a child chewing corn. References are made throughout the book to the weather, as characters disagree as to whether or not it rained on the day of the murder. It is suggested that dreams and the weather may be omens that foretell lucky or unlucky events; however, their significance is never fully explained. Whatever their meaning, the frequent references to dreams and weather contribute to an atmosphere of mystery and surrealism in the book.