Course Hero Logo

Love in the Time of Cholera | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Love in the Time of Cholera Study Guide." Course Hero. 19 Jan. 2017. Web. 7 June 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, January 19). Love in the Time of Cholera Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 7, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Love in the Time of Cholera Study Guide." January 19, 2017. Accessed June 7, 2023.


Course Hero, "Love in the Time of Cholera Study Guide," January 19, 2017, accessed June 7, 2023,

Love in the Time of Cholera | Discussion Questions 21 - 30


How does Captain Rosendo de la Rosa get revenge in Chapter 4 of Love in the Time of Cholera, and what is the significance of his actions?

Captain Rosendo de la Rosa brings Florentino Ariza to meet his mistress, Ausencia Santander, in Chapter 4 (The River Company). The "enormous" captain passes out while explaining the "history of each object" in the house. After Ausencia and Florentino put him to bed, they begin a two-year affair. During this time, she is always "waiting" for Florentino. One day, they accidentally nap together—something they never do. Florentino senses someone "watching" them. Ausencia's cockatoo screams on the terrace, symbolizing danger, as Captain Rosendo de la Rosa steals the things he "brought back from each trip until there was no room." When Ausencia fetches a drink, she shrieks "in horror." Nearly everything is gone, and a note on the wall reads: "This is what you get for fucking around." Gabriel García Márquez has used this consequence—or revenge—for the loss of love elsewhere in the novel. When Fermina Daza breaks her engagement with Florentino, she sends back the telegrams and gifts he had sent her and demands he return those she had given him. After the death of Dr. Juvenal Urbino, Fermina burns everything that reminds her of her husband. Whether a relationship ends through cheating, a break-up, or death, it seems that the physical love objects—letters, furnishings, pets, or other gifts—must be disposed of as well.

In what ways is the Love in the Time of Cholera's character Florentino Ariza similar to and different from the legendary character of Don Juan?

After Fermina Daza rejects Florentino Ariza, he becomes, like Don Juan, a seducer of women. Both characters are intent on asserting their masculinity by seducing and dominating many women and enjoying sexual, but not emotional, contact with them. Florentino and Don Juan each act on the emotional level of boys or very young men; neither adopts the behavior of a mature man with regard to the women he seduces. Florentino, in particular, often depends on the motherly instincts of his conquests. Some differences between Florentino and Don Juan include the men's status and appearance. The Don Juan of legendary fame is a Spanish nobleman who is described as handsome and charismatic. Gabriel García Márquez paints Florentino as an illegitimate son of an unmarried woman who, although he becomes successful in business, never gains an elevated position in society. He is described as marginally attractive and dressed in somber, old-fashioned clothing. Where Don Juan attracts through his looks, García Márquez hints that Florentino draws some women to him through empathy or pity. Such is the case with Prudencia Pitre, for example.

In Chapter 4 of Love in the Time of Cholera, what is symbolic about Sara Noriega and Florentino Ariza meeting?

At the first Poetic Festival in Chapter 4 (Upward Mobility), Sara Noriega, who sits next to Florentino Ariza, says, "Believe me, my heart goes out to you." He is bewildered to think someone knows his secret, but she explains she noticed how the camellia in his lapel trembled while Fermina Daza read the winners' names. She sympathizes, holding a magnolia in her hand. It was originally pinned to her breast. He suggests they go "cry together." Other than Leona Cassiani, Sara is the closest Florentino gets to authentic love as he waits for Fermina. Sara and Florentino have poetry and their emotional dispositions in common. At the age of 18, Sara was engaged to a man she loved, as Florentino loves Fermina, with an "almost demented passion."

In Chapter 4 (Domesticity) of Love in the Time of Cholera, what is the significance of Fermina Daza's thoughts about Florentino Ariza?

While talking about Florentino Ariza, Fermina Daza understands the "hidden impulses" behind her sudden decision to end their relationship: "It is as if he were not a person but only a shadow." While Dr. Juvenal Urbino pursues her, she experiences guilt, an unbearable emotion for her. She misses the "solitary phantom" who occupied the park for months, thinking, "Poor man." She does not favor Dr. Urbino over Florentino, but she is not convinced "love was really what she most needed to live," highlighting the theme of society versus passion. With her 21st birthday approaching, she feels an "opportunity slipping away." Occasionally, she sees Florentino and is happy to hear good things about him because it eases her guilt.

What leads Fermina Daza to try teaching Dr. Juvenal Urbino a lesson in Chapter 4 (Domesticity) of Love in the Time of Cholera, and does it work?

Tension builds between Fermina Daza and Dr. Juvenal Urbino with regard to running their household. Gabriel García Márquez describes Dr. Urbino cynically as a "perfect husband: he never picked up anything from the floor ... or closed a door." Fermina feels she has become her husband's "deluxe servant." Annoyed by his "lack of understanding," she asks him, as her birthday gift, to assume her responsibilities for one day. Originally amused, he admits defeat before noon, realizing he does not know what his wife likes to eat or where anything is, and falls behind in his duties. Acknowledging his difficulties, Fermina retakes "command." His failure makes Dr. Urbino "bitter," and he suggests things would go worse for her if she "tried to cure the sick." This shows, again, his "lack of understanding," drawing attention to the conflict in their marriage.

What is the importance of the proverb, "Sick women live forever" in Chapter 5 (House Calls) of Love in the Time of Cholera?

Fermina Daza disappears suddenly from the city, and gossip circles about her traveling to Panama, where the wealthy retreat to attend to health issues privately before sometimes returning with "splendid gifts" and "barbarous stitches." Knowing the rich do not "contract short-term diseases," Florentino Ariza searches for an explanation regarding Fermina's absence. Finding no alternate information "in a city where everything was known"—especially if it deals with "the rich"—Florentino hopes she heals, and holds on desperately to the proverb, "Sick women live forever." His anxiety develops the theme of aging and time as he patiently waits for news and for Fermina to reappear.

How is Florentino Ariza and Leona Cassiani's relationship significant in Love in the Time of Cholera?

Their relationship connects two characters that are the mirror images of each other. Both are eager to succeed in business. Florentino Ariza's motivation is to improve his status and become worthy of Fermina Daza's love. Leona Cassiani's drive is a combination of her intellectual curiosity and a desire to raise her economic standing. In addition to their craving for commercial success, both are sexual adventurers. When they meet, Florentino has already been seducing women for many years and has decided never to pay for sex. His seduction technique, often depending on the woman's empathy or maternal feelings, would be the wrong approach for Leona. She has a morbid, lingering attachment to the man who once sexually assaulted her and has long been searching for him. Because Florentino initially insulted Leona by mistaking her for a prostitute, he has restrained himself from acting on his attraction to her. Leona's gratitude to him for getting her a job has also kept her from approaching him sexually. Through this mutual behavior, they have developed a platonic friendship which cannot be overcome when Florentino at last propositions Leona. Now, although she's 20 years his junior, she says she feels like a mother to him. Such motherly feelings have helped Florentino take many women into his bed, but in this case, it isn't going to happen.

What is symbolic about the cyclone in Chapter 4 (Upward Mobility) of Love in the Time of Cholera?

Dr. Juvenal Urbino's arrival at the River Company of the Caribbean is marked by the approach of a cyclone, which he predicts as he arrives "with his last breath." As he visits with Florentino Ariza, while waiting for Leo XII Loayza, a "storm of crosswinds" rocks "the doors and windows with great blasts." Disasters, a symbol, represent unseen obstacles to happiness. In this case, Dr. Urbino is the obstacle standing between Florentino and Fermina Daza, and the cyclone punctuates the tension of their encounter. The casualness of Dr. Urbino's demeanor is juxtaposed with Florentino's overworked emotions. Having so far waited 27 years for Fermina, he cannot sit still for this conversation and instead gulps an entire thermos of coffee and checks three times to see if his Uncle Leo has awakened from his siesta. Gabriel García Márquez employs dramatic irony in this scene, as Dr. Urbino has seemingly forgotten that Hildebranda Sánchez had once told him that Florentino was "Fermina Daza's only sweetheart before she married." Florentino, on the other hand, is nearly overcome with agony, thinking they "[share] the hazards of a common passion" and that Dr. Urbino must "die in order for him to be happy."

How does Fermina Daza react to the ageism Ofelia Urbino expresses in Chapter 6 (New Fidelity) of Love in the Time of Cholera?

Ofelia Urbino's condemnation lights a fire in Fermina Daza that has been smoldering since she heard her daughter intends to "drive Florentino Ariza out of the house" and believes that an intimate relationship between Florentino and her mother would be "revolting." The scenes introduced here defy society's stereotypical view that older people have lost their capacity for sensual love and sexual experiences. As Fermina struggles to find a new existence for herself, Florentino Ariza's letters become a lifeline, and his visits open the way to a deepening affection that Fermina is at last able to reciprocate. Gabriel García Márquez uses the news item about the death of the clandestine elderly lovers to provide Fermina with an understanding that such passion is possible, and to move her to sorrow for the loss of the couple. Having relieved some of her anger by throwing Ofelia out of the house, Fermina reflects on how society interfered in her youthful relationship with Florentino when they were "too young," and grumbles, "now they want to do the same thing because we are too old." With cynical pleasure, she revels in the fact that "there is no one left to give us orders." Having realized both their passion and their freedom, Fermina and Florentino board the riverboat New Fidelity, and later that day "Seeing [Florentino] ... [Fermina] could not hold back the fiery blush that rose to her face." Within days, the pair "no longer [feel] like newlyweds." By now they have been a couple long enough "to know that love [is] always love, anytime and anyplace." This sentiment reinforces a quote from García Márquez in which he states humans are "resistant to the passage of time ... Our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom."

What is the significance of Florentino Ariza's lie to Prudencia Pitre in Chapter 6 (Widowhood) of Love in the Time of Cholera?

After restating his everlasting vow to Fermina Daza, Florentino Ariza begins to fall apart. Wandering the streets at night and "on the edge of catastrophe, he [needs] the help of a woman." Expecting to be welcomed by old lovers no matter how long it's been since he's seen them, he decides to visit Prudencia Pitre—even though he has no idea if she's alive or dead. After a few glasses of wine, he asks Prudencia how she would react if someone proposed to her, "just as" she is. An old widow, she—who "would have sold her soul to the devil to marry him"—laughs and asks, "Are you speaking of the Widow Urbino?" He denies it, swearing that he is speaking of her instead. Determined to "remain free for Fermina," Florentino is elusive with other women. Yet, he believes he can remain faithful to all parties (love Fermina while sleeping with others) without hurting anyone's feelings. Perhaps to spare Prudencia's feelings, he insists he means her and continues his visits to maintain that appearance.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Love in the Time of Cholera? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!