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Love in the Time of Cholera | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

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Love in the Time of Cholera | Chapter 2 (Lost Innocence) | Summary



Unlike Fermina Daza, Florentino Ariza has not forgotten her for a day. Popular with women, his "innocence" ends in his youth when he sees Fermina while delivering a telegraph to Lorenzo Daza. While leaving, he hears and sees a girl teaching a woman to read on the patio. Her "casual glance" spurs the love lasting more than 50 years. He watches her in the park, walking with her aunt, Escolástica Daza, to and from school and mass, and begins writing her a note, which transforms into a 70-page letter. Confiding in his mother, she tells him to befriend the aunt and announce his interest.

Walking by her house, he sees Fermina and Escolástica in the yard, and begins sitting in plain sight, letting his book reveal his identity. One afternoon, Escolástica goes inside, and Florentino, assuming her exit is planned, approaches Fermina and ask her to accept his letter. She tells him she needs permission from her father first and to maintain his routine until she changes her "seat." The next Monday, he sees the signal, walks over, and says, "This is the greatest moment of my life." Focusing on her embroidery, she demands the letter and orders him to stay away until she asks for him.

Wanting to know what Fermina tastes like one night, he eats gardenias and drinks cologne. His mother finds him in a pool of his vomit. Tránsito Ariza tells her son to take control, so he visits Fermina who is troubled by the "determination" of the letter. Not knowing how to respond, she becomes haunted by Florentino. After he says he expects an answer, she promises a response, which Escolástica delivers.


Gabriel García Márquez uses the precision of time to display Florentino Ariza's devotion and obsession with Fermina Daza. This exactitude paints Florentino somewhat as a stalker: he has waited 51 years, nine months, and four days to confess his love to her, and he cannot wait longer than "her first night as a widow." The use of letters, a symbol of secret identities and connections, develops tension. Fermina's curiosity mounts, waiting for the letter that Aunt Escolástica Daza mentions Florentino should present, if he is "serious."

Conflict arises from the discrepancy between the characters' feelings. While the "solitary hunter" Florentino openly stalks Fermina, she, at the age of 13, is "safe from even simple curiosity about love." She pities him and is more interested in telegrams than in Florentino himself, thus illustrating the dynamic of their relationship. When Fermina says she will have to request permission from her father in order to accept a letter from Florentino, this develops the themes of society and passion.

Birds symbolize temptation and danger, and the bird depositing its "droppings" when Florentino presents his letter alludes to the consequences of the clandestine relationship Fermina and Florentino maintain through letters.

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