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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 6 (Calling) | Summary



After two weeks without writing, Florentino Ariza visits Fermina Daza unexpectedly. She panics, thinking they have nothing to discuss, and has him wait in the drawing room while she freshens up. Her acceptance produces "painful foam" in Florentino's intestines. The "twisting in his guts" makes him beg to return "tomorrow," and Fermina suggests Friday evening.

During their visit, they avoid sensitive topics by talking about riverboats, although both of them are inexperienced with river trips. Florentino's letter, which bemoans his "frustrated visit," is delivered, and he asks Fermina to refrain from reading it. She grants his wish, returning his letter, but expresses disappointment because his letters have "helped" her "a great deal." Before leaving, he asks if he can return, and she extends an open invitation: "Come back whenever you like."

He begins visiting her regularly, every Tuesday. Every third Tuesday, they play cards with Dr. Urbino Daza and his wife. Despite Florentino's tendency for nostalgia and Fermina's temper, the two enjoy their rituals (weekly visits, a white rose without thorns, boat delicacies). Fermina's son invites Florentino to the Social Club for lunch. There, he thanks Florentino for offering his mother "good companionship" and asks him to carry on. After the "triumphal conversation," Florentino twists his ankle dancing up the stairs. Confined to a cast and bed for two months, he sends his regrets to Fermina, which she answers with a "sympathetic" and "kind" note. After "three Thursdays," Fermina realizes how much she misses Florentino's "calming" visits.


It becomes clearer that Fermina Daza is developing a deepening affection for Florentino Ariza, as she now acknowledges knowing him and defends him to her friends. This mirrors Florentino's behavior earlier when he defends Fermina's honor after Sara Noriega calls her a "whore." Fermina rescues Florentino's reputation, which signifies her growing feelings for him.

The theme of plague appears here, as love is again compared with cholera. As Florentino, suffering from an extreme upset stomach, flees Fermina's house, only to defecate in his carriage, his driver mistakes this symptom for cholera. From experience, Florentino knows it is his "usual ailment": lovesickness, showing how, like cholera, love plagues Florentino.

Fermina's preference for Florentino's visits over those of family members and friends illustrates their deepening connection. In his absence, they communicate through letters rather than phone calls, because it's well known that the city's phone operator listens in on calls and memorizes everything she hears. Fermina's reluctance to share their private conversations with the whole city also supports the theme of society versus passion.

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