Shortly after being wed, Angela Vicario was returned to her parents’ house by her husband, Bayardo San Roman, because he had discovered that she was not a virgin. Angela had brought disgrace to her groom. Her parents mourned the loss of their wealthy new son-in-law, who had planned to provide quite nicely for their daughter, as well as for themselves. In addition, their daughter had destroyed her chances of finding a husband because she had given in to temptation prior to being married. Angela’s brothers, Pedro and Pablo Vicario, ordered her to disclose the name of the man who had deflowered her. She named Santiago Nasar, a wealthy and respected young man, and a friend of the narrator. The brothers instantly decided to kill him.
Despite the certainty of their decision, the brothers did everything they could to encourage someone to prevent them from committing this crime. As the brothers of a tainted woman, they had an obligation to seek justice and restore her honor. Through this process, they could make her a virgin again – at least symbolically. It was assumed that Santiago had seduced her, and although she gave in to desire, he was the primary culprit. His death would serve to wipe her slate clean. If a third party intervened, the brothers wouldn’t lose face for not killing Santiago. The shopkeeper of the store across from Santiago’s house explains this to the mayor after she urges him to put the brothers in jail. “It’s to spare those poor boys from the horrible duty that’s fallen on them (p. 57).” The mayor doesn’t arrest the pair, but does take away their knives. They simply returned home for more, which they sharpened in the public market, announcing what they intended to do. In fact, as they wandered around town searching for their victim, they announced to everyone they encountered what they intended to do.
The town understood that the brothers were acting out of a sense of duty