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Love in the Time of Cholera: Summary & Quotes

Instructor: Erica Schimmel

Erica has taught college English writing and literature courses and has a master's degree in children's literature.

For over 50 years, Florentino has waited for his chance to rekindle his romance with Fermina. Now that her husband is dead, will Fermina accept his declaration of undying love? Find out in this summary with quotations of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 'Love in the Time of Cholera'.

Introduction to Love

Most people move on when their ''first love'' ends. But Florentino Ariza is not most people. A romantic, Florentino never let go of his first love, the elegant, quick-tempered Fermina Daza. Even though Fermina married Dr. Juvenal Urbino, Florentino hasn't stopped thinking about her since the end of their ''long and troubled love affair fifty-one years, nine months, and four days ago.'' Let's learn more about their story in this summary of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera.

Beginning in the Present Tense

''I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love.''

Marquez begins in present tense with Dr. Urbino, the most respected doctor in town. After a hard day, Urbino tries to rescue his runaway pet parrot from a tree, but dies when he loses his balance and falls. There are many people at the wake, including Florentino, who is waiting for everyone else to leave before he makes his move on Fermina. When they are finally alone, he declares his undying love. His timing couldn't be more inappropriate, and the grief-stricken Fermina furiously tells him to leave and never come back.

Flashback

'' 'All I ask is that you accept a letter from me,' he said.''

At this point, Marquez uses flashback to give us some history. Florentino and Fermina met when she was only 13. For Florentino, four years older, it was love at first sight. He started watching her everyday to try and find a way to give her a love letter. She finally accepted it, but then made him wait a month before responding. When she finally did, it triggered a whirlwind of letters. Apart from brief glimpses of each other in public, their entire relationship consisted of exchanging letters.

Florentino and Fermina communicate through letters
Letter Writing

After about two years, they got engaged. But while planning their future together, Fermina's father discovered their letters and took Fermina far away to live on her uncle's farm. The lovebirds stayed in touch, though. After a few years, he decided it was safe to return home when Fermina was 18.

An Abrupt End

''...she erased him from her life with a wave of her hand.''

When Fermina saw Florentino again, ''instead of the commotion of love, she felt the abyss of disenchantment.'' She ran off, later sending him a brief apology and all his letters. Florentino vowed to win her back. He got a lowly job from his uncle at the River Company of the Caribbean. After 30 years, he worked his way up to take over as president. Florentino also began having affairs with over 622 women, but kept them secret.

Married Life

''She had left with no scandal, by mutual agreement with her husband, both of them as entangled as adolescents in the only serious crisis they had suffered during so many years of stable matrimony.''

In the meantime, Fermina met Dr. Urbino. She wasn't interested, even though her father was excited for her to marry an upper class man. Eventually, Urbino won her over. Like most marriages, they had ups and downs, but the worst was when Urbino cheated. When Fermina found out, she went and lived on her uncle's farm for two years. Ultimately, they repaired their relationship and grew closer together.

A Second Chance

''Let time pass and we will see what it brings.''

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