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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 | Discussion Questions 41 - 50


In Love in the Time of Cholera, what annoys Fermina Daza during the ride in Dr. Juvenal Urbino's carriage in Chapter 3 (Journey to Villa de Leyva)?

The three-block trip to Park of the Evangels takes longer than necessary. Fermina Daza suspects Dr. Juvenal Urbino has instructed the driver to take a long route, yet another manipulation on his part to get close to her. Charming Hildebranda Sánchez in order to also charm Fermina, Dr. Urbino bonds quickly with the older girl. Hildebranda, unaware of Dr. Urbino's courtship of Fermina, flirts with him, and he, appearing ecstatic to be in the company of Fermina, plays along. Fermina looks out the window—"lost in the void"—perhaps alluding to the nonsensical games and conversation of the social situation. While Dr. Urbino covers his eyes after daring Hildebranda to remove her uncomfortable hoop skirt, she finally realizes she may be in over her head. She, shamefaced, asks Fermina what to do. Fermina by this time is furious at her cousin's willingness to break the rules for public behavior. She uses sign language to signal that if they do not go home immediately, she will "throw herself out of the moving carriage."

How does Dr. Juvenal Urbino show emotional growth shortly before his death in Chapter 1 (Anniversary Celebration) of Love in the Time of Cholera?

At Dr. Lácides Olivella's anniversary celebration, Dr. Juvenal Urbino convinces the mayor to purchase and create an archive of the late Jeremiah de Saint-Amour's photography. He insists on arranging the sale himself, to keep the identity of Jeremiah de Saint-Amour's mistress a secret. Just as Jeremiah de Saint-Amour had grown morally by confessing his past crimes, this action by Dr. Urbino displays a newfound maturity. Showing "loyalty to the woman he had repudiated five hours earlier" improves his mood. He, who had cried "easy tears" earlier, moves past his negative emotions, which appeared to stem from pride and his strict adherence to rules—thus, gaining peace before his own death.

What is the significance of Fermina Daza's intuition in Love in the Time of Cholera?

There are references to Fermina Daza's intuition throughout the narrative: When the hot air balloon ride is unable to return, the group rides to Pueblo Viejo, where the swamp and sea converge. Fermina remembers being pulled in a ox cart there with her mother. She had told her father about it numerous times, which he insists happened five years before Fermina's birth. When Jeremiah de Saint-Amour dies, revealing his past and depressing Dr. Juvenal Urbino, Fermina—who has a strong aversion to de Saint-Amour—avoids letting Dr. Urbino's mood affect her. Intuition creates tension for Fermina's character because many of her romantic choices are made hastily. Considering her keen senses, those decisions may allude to inner conflict.

What is the significance of anonymous mail Fermina Daza receives in Chapter 3 (Symptoms) of Love in the Time of Cholera?

While Dr. Juvenal Urbino courts Fermina Daza, who is accustomed to Florentino Ariza's lyrical communications, she amasses different items of mail: an anonymous "poison pen" letter, threatening her "honor" two treacherous anonymous letters, each written by a different person a doll from Martinique that grows, which she suspects means there is a spell on it The mail creates varying levels of tension. At first, the messages intrigue her, but as they become more frequent and "frightening," her curiosity turns into anger. The letters target her because Dr. Urbino, a desirable bachelor, pursues her. Because she has neither money nor social status, society members assume, and participate in, foul play, and the harassment foreshadows the negative social conduct of the upper class Fermina marries into.

In Chapter 4 (Upward Mobility) of Love in the Time of Cholera, how does Florentino Ariza's relationship with Sara Noriega affect him?

Florentino Ariza's relationship with Sara Noriega "achieved the miracle of curing him for a time." Coincidentally, they part ways because of a "mean-spirited argument" about Fermina Daza's honor, which, in a way, awakens his unrequited love. Previously admitting to loving Sara, Florentino seems to contradict himself by wanting a "definitive end to that loveless relationship." Either he retracts his love for Sara in anger or he believes in Sara's definition of "divided love." She puts forth her theory about love as being "everything they did naked," explaining, "spiritual love [is] from the waist up and physical love [is] from the waist down." Their break-up resurrects his "dormant grief," making him yearn for Dr. Juvenal Urbino's death. He approaches his heartache logically. From his experience with widows, he sees "no reason why" Fermina would not be a widow like the ones he knew: first "mad with grief" then, eventually, "resolved to discover with him the other happiness of being happy twice."

In Chapter 4 (The River Company) of Love in the Time of Cholera, why does Florentino Ariza initially struggle at the River Company of the Caribbean?

These scenes show Gabriel García Márquez using humor to show how love can interfere with day-to-day life. The romantic poems Florentino Ariza studied so carefully in order to write to Fermina Daza now poison his attempts to succeed in the business world. Lotario Thugut suggests that Leo XII Loayza give Florentino a writing job because he is a "voracious wholesale consumer of literature." Uncle Leo becomes frustrated because "official documents [seem] to be about love." Florentino writes with "passion," rhyming his bills of lading. He unintentionally compromises the company's professionalism and causes tension with Uncle Leo, who threatens Florentino with a "last chance to save his soul." If he can't write a business letter, he is going to be picking up trash at the dock. Invigorated by the challenge, Florentino studies "mercantile prose." After six months, Florentino, unable to lose his lyricism, forfeits and is assigned to trash duty, although he is laterpromoted.

What bad omens appear while Florentino Ariza pursues Olimpia Zuleta in Chapter 4 (Domesticity) of Love in the Time of Cholera?

When Florentino Ariza meets Olimpia Zuleta, their interactions are laden with bad omens. The minor disasters foreshadow Olimpia's eventual murder, which her husband confesses to. When Florentino first sees her, it is storming. He pursues her, even after feeling like he was "struck by lightning," which alludes to tragedy. The newlywed wears an organza dress with ruffles that resembles a wedding dress, a cautionary sign. When he first picks her up, she's chasing a parasol that's blowing out to sea, indicating she should stay away from Florentino. When Florentino sees Olimpia's husband working, he hears "with great clarity, the voice of the devil in his ear." Deciding, on a whim, to paint a message of ownership on Olimpia's body, Florentino chooses a can of blood-red paint, and the message incites Olimpia's husband to cut her throat.

How does Lorenzo Daza's character complicate developments in Chapter 2 (Devastating Youth) of Love in the Time of Cholera?

Mystery surrounds Lorenzo Daza's history, and he causes conflict for many characters: Florentino Ariza: Supposing Fermina Daza is within his grasp, he is discouraged by her father's rigidity. Escolástica Daza: When she realizes Florentino and Fermina are in love, she fears her brother's "tyrannical nature," so the lovers adopt a "method" of exchanging letters to preserve Escolástica's "innocence." Fermina regarding love: One night, Florentino carelessly serenades Fermina with a song he composed for her, instilling her with a fear of being discovered. Fermina regarding life: One night, Lorenzo tells her they "are ruined" and never mentions it again, alienating his daughter, making her certain she is "alone in the world."

In Chapter 3 (The Wedding) of Love in the Time of Cholera, how do Widow Nazaret and Florentino Ariza benefit from their sexual relationship?

Acting as an informal matchmaker for her forlorn son, Tránsito Ariza's suggests that Widow Nazaret stay with Florentino Ariza. Both having only been with one other person (Florentino with Rosalba and Widow Nazaret with her dead husband), they begin sleeping together. The liaison provides a sort of healing for each participant. She, who previously suffered "inconsolable grief" for three years, immediately stops wearing mourning attire—"widow's weeds." After the 63-day siege, she renovates her home, making a "love nest" where she receives men on her terms. Through his relations with Widow Nazaret, Florentino learns he can love more than one individual. Eventually, the city that reeks of Fermina Daza at Florentino's arrival becomes tolerant, and soon only white gardenias remind him of her. Fermina's fading fragrance develops the theme of aging and time, showing how the loophole of sexual liaisons makes waiting for his chance to reunite with Fermina bearable.

How do Leo XII Loayza's stories contradict Florentino Ariza's memories of his father in Chapter 4 (The River Company) of Love in the Time of Cholera?

Florentino Ariza is aware that his uncle's stories portray his father—Pius V Loayza—as a "dreamer more than ... a businessman." Uncle Leo's motivations for talking up his dead brother may be his sense of honor, because he shows a sense of responsibility by caring for Tránsito Ariza and Florentino after his brother dies. Yet, the man his uncle describes contradicts Florentino's memories. For Florentino, evidence of the affair between Pius V and Tránsito Ariza must remain a secret. For good reason—when Pius V's bitter and "suspicious" wife becomes aware of Florentino, she prays for his "eternal damnation." These scenes support the theme of society versus passion.

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