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Love in the Time of Cholera | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

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Course Hero. "Love in the Time of Cholera Study Guide." Course Hero. 19 Jan. 2017. Web. 30 May 2023. <>.

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Love in the Time of Cholera | Chapter 1 (Escaped Parrot) | Summary



When Fermina Daza and Dr. Juvenal Urbino return home, they discover the firefighters have recklessly destroyed their mango tree and bedroom trying to capture the parrot, which has escaped. While reading after his siesta, Dr. Urbino hears the bird and spots it on a low tree branch. Slowly, he approaches the tree, where a ladder was abandoned. The bird moves to an upper branch, and he climbs two rungs higher than intended. As he clutches the parrot by the neck, he falls to his death, releasing the bird. Fermina is alerted by Digna Pardo's scream and reaches her husband in time to say goodbye. She thinks his eyes are "more luminous, more grief-stricken, more grateful than she had ever seen them."

As Fermina receives condolences during the vigil, Florentino Ariza works behind the scenes, assisting with any rising needs. Unlike others, he remains through the funeral despite the "devastating downpour." He returns later for the wake. In the evening, someone suggests everyone leave early, so Fermina can sleep. After she escorts the last of her friends out, Florentino, still in the drawing room, confesses his undying love for her. She orders him to leave and never return.

Alone, she finally weeps and puts herself to bed. Devastated by anything that reminds her of her husband (his slippers, pajamas), she prays that she dies during the night and, like her husband used to, sobs in her sleep. Late the next morning, she wakes, realizing she is alive and that she had dreamed about Florentino more than about her deceased husband.


The theme of aging and time is again explored in Dr. Juvenal Urbino's post-siesta "sadness." Described as an "invisible cloud," the sensation, he thinks, is "divine notification" that he is "living his final afternoons." Regardless of all his precautions (fighting memory loss with notes to himself), he realizes "even the oldest people" are "younger than him." What bothers him most is his uncertainty, the loss of his "good judgement." Because of Dr. Urbino's memory loss, dramatic irony arises from the circularity of thoughts and action, and readers see the danger of the situation, which has been freshly observed then forgotten by the doctor. Shortly after admitting to his failing "power of reason," he decides to catch the parrot that a team of firefighters could not trap. The bird, symbolizing danger, draws Dr. Urbino into a compromising situation.

Dr. Urbino's death introduces Florentino Ariza, who has interestingly, like Dr. Urbino, made a great attempt to preserve himself for an opportunity to win Fermina Daza's heart again. That he waits more than 50 years to confess his love displays honor, and that she tells him she hopes he has "few" years left yet dreams of him, presents conflict. Florentino suffers when Fermina does not recognize him, yet he acts out of love, risking his health to spend every moment in her presence, helping her without expecting thanks.

After Dr. Urbino's funeral services are finished, Fermina sleeps in, waking of her own volition for the first time since her honeymoon—this freedom representing her new autonomy.

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