Chronicle of a Death Foretold describes the murder of a young man, Santiago Nasar, and the events leading to this death. It also follows some of the characters' lives after he is killed.
The murder occurs following Angela Vicario's wedding night, when her wealthy husband, Bayardo San Roman, discovers that she is not a virgin. San Roman returns Angela to her family, where she is brutally interrogated for two hours, finally confessing that Santiago Nasar was the man who deflowered her. Much evidence throughout the story suggests that this accusation is false. However, Angela's brothers, Pedro and Pablo Vicario, take her word for it and kill Santiago in broad daylight in a crowded public square.
Having armed us with this foreknowlege of the murder, Garcia Marquez relates the events leading up to it in non-chronological fashion. He describes the wedding of Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Roman: the grandest celebration the town had ever seen. Bayardo's father was the famous General of the civil wars, General Petronio San Roman, and his family is very wealthy. The formal festivities of the wedding end at 6:00 p.m., when Angela and her groom leave to consummate their marriage; the public stays, however, drinking and dancing until midnight. Some of the wedding guests, including Santiago Nasar, his friend Cristo Bedoya (who narrates the story) and the narrator's brother continue reveling even after midnight, even spending time at Maria Alejandrina Cervantes 's brothel with the Vicario twins, who do not yet know of their sister's disgrace.
Following Angela's confession that Santiago Nasar took her virginity, her twin brothers decide to kill him. They announce their plan to anyone who will listen, in part, it seems, to allow someone to stop them or warn Santiago. Everyone behaves as though someone else will halt the revenge-a local police officer, the mayor, the butcher, and even the local priest all knew of the murder plot-but no one stops it. By six o clock a.m. of the day following the wedding, everyone in town knows the twins are going to kill Santiago. Santiago himself, however, is still unaware. A few try to warn him, including Cristo Bedoya, who has spent the morning with him; Cristo finds out too late, however, and cannot find his friend to warn him.
Eventually, the father of Santiago's fiancee warns him of the plot. He is extremely confused as to why the Vicario twins want to kill him, and his fear leaves him so shaken up that he cannot even find his way back to his house. The Vicario brothers spot him while he stumbles through town. Santiago sprints to his door, which, unfortunately, is locked, due to his mother's belief that he was safe at home and her desire to keep the Vicarios away from him. Pedro and Pablo catch up to Santiago and stab him to death against his own door.
After the murder, an angry group of Arabs, with whom Santiago's father immigrated, chase the Vicarios into a local church. The twins give themselves up and are locked in prison. The Vicario family, meanwhile, ashamed by the whole ordeal, leaves town in disgrace. The twins are tried three years later and acquitted because the murder had been an honor killing. Upon his release, Pablo marries his fiancÃ©e, Prudencia Cotes. Pedro reenlists in the army and goes missing in enemy territory.
Meanwhile, the story of Bayardo and Angela unfolds as well. Bayardo San Roman nearly drinks himself to death following the revelation that his bride was not a virgin. He is taken away from the town on a boat by his mother and two sisters. Meanwhile, Angela realizes (while she is being beaten by her mother, in fact) that she loves Bayardo. After coincidentally seeing him in a hotel a few years after their annulled marriage, she begins writing him a letter every week. One day, seventeen years later, Bayardo shows up at her door with one suitcase full of clothes (indicating that he wants to return to her) and one full of her unopened letters.