Death Constant Beyond Love

Senator Onesimo Sanchez is not a nice man. If he was, he wouldn’t be a senator. Because he is a senator, you know exactly what kind of nice man he isn’t. In the first sentence of his short story, “Death Constant Beyond Love”, Gabriel García Márquez tells us that Onesimo Sanchez has six months to live. Onesimo Sanchez doesn’t tell anyone, including his wife. The story ends:

Six 
months
 and
 eleven 
days 
later
 he 
would 
die 
in 
that 
same 
position,
debased 
and
 repudiated
 because
 of 
the 
public
 scandal
 with 
Laura 
Farina 
and 
weeping 
with 
rage 
at
 dying
 without her.

It’s hard to write a convincing love in a few pages, and Onesimo Sanchez’ with Laura Farina remains a mystery, but perhaps that’s the point. The story describes a politics so superficial that when Onesimo Sanchez visits Laura Farina’s town (“an
 illusory 
village
 which
 by 
night 
was 
the 
furtive 
wharf
 for 
smugglers’ 
ships”) to give a speech, he comes with shiny, paper facades of brick buildings with glass windows that his underlings attach to the town’s actual buildings. Devoid of principles and cynical despite living in a world of apparent magic, Onesimo Sanchez sees love in anything that isn’t just a facade, including in Laura Farina, the daughter of a man who wants a favour from the senator and who dealt with his own first wife by drawing and quartering her, then using her remains to fertilize a cauliflower patch. When the father sends the daughter to convince the senator to agree to his favour, he makes sure she’s wearing a padlock where it counts.

My favourite part of the story occurs when Laura Farina comes to meet the senator. She’s standing in a room away from the political commotion, watching quietly as he makes a butterfly out of a sheet of paper. The butterfly flies from his room to hers, where it gets stuck to a wall. As Laura Farina tries to peel it off, a dozing soldier wakes up and tells her it’s impossible because the butterfly is painted on. It’s moments like these that define magical realism.

You can read “Death Constant Beyond Love” here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s