Florentino Ariza Character Analysis in Love in the Time of Cholera | LitCharts

Love in the Time of Cholera

by

Gabriel García Márquez

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Florentino Ariza Character Analysis

After falling in love with Fermina Daza as a young man, Florentino Ariza proves to be a deeply romantic person who devotes his entire life to winning back the woman of his dreams. Despite being the illegitimate son of a working-class woman, Tránsito Ariza, Florentino works hard to become President of the River Company of the Caribbean. By achieving this high social status, he hopes to one day impress Fermina. An indefatigable romantic who is obsessed with lyric poetry and the expression of love, Florentino challenges social norms in order to pursue his own sexual pleasure. He does not hesitate to take part in a romantic relationship at an old old age, thus embodying the notion that love should have no boundaries of age or status. He also proves capable of committing to his idealism when, at the end of the novel, he suggests that Fermina and he should remain on the ship forever, in order to avoid the oppression of social life. However, this very same freedom also proves morally ambiguous. Despite his professed allegiance to Fermina, Florentino enjoys hundreds of sexual relationships throughout his life, committing seriously to none. This inconsistency underlines both his mental allegiance to Fermina and his self-centeredness, which is especially apparent when he harms other people. He refuses to assume a sense of moral responsibility when taking part in a relationship with fourteen-year-old América Vicuña or when women are killed (such as Olympia Zuleta) or commit suicide (such as América Vicuña) because of their relationships with him. This callous disregard for other people reveals him to be a morally shallow individual, focused more on preserving his own reputation than on preventing harm to others. This contradiction between Florentino’s enduring commitment to Fermina Daza and his potentially immoral deeds are central to his character.

Florentino Ariza Quotes in Love in the Time of Cholera

The Love in the Time of Cholera quotes below are all either spoken by Florentino Ariza or refer to Florentino Ariza. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Love in the Time of Cholera published in 2007.
Chapter 2 Quotes

After Florentino Ariza saw her for the first time, his mother knew before he told her because he lost his voice and his appetite and spent the entire night tossing and turning in his bed. But when he began to wait for the answer to his first letter, his anguish was complicated by diarrhea and green vomit, he became disoriented and suffered from sudden fainting spells, and his mother was terrified because his condition did not resemble the turmoil of love so much as the devastation of cholera.

Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

“Take advantage of it now, while you are young, and suffer all you can,” she said to him, “because these things don’t last your whole life.”

Related Characters: Tránsito Ariza (speaker), Florentino Ariza, Fermina Daza
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

She turned her head and saw, a hand’s breadth from her eyes, those other glacial eyes, that livid face, those lips petrified with fear, just as she had seen them in the crowd at Midnight Mass the first time he was so close to her, but now, instead of the commotion of love, she felt the abyss of disenchantment. In an instant the magnitude of her own mistake was revealed to her, and she asked herself, appalled, how she could have nurtured such a chimera in her heart for so long and with so much ferocity. She just managed to think: My God, poor man! Florentino Ariza smiled, tried to say something, tried to follow her, but she erased him from her life with a wave of her hand.

“No, please,” she said to him. “Forget it.”

Related Characters: Fermina Daza (speaker), Florentino Ariza
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

She herself had not realized that every step she took from her house to school, every spot in the city, every moment of her recent past, did not seem to exist except by the grace of Florentino Ariza. Hildebranda pointed this out to her, but she did not admit it because she never would have admitted that Florentino Ariza, for better or for worse, was the only thing that had ever happened to her in her life.

Page Number: 132-133
Explanation and Analysis:

In this way he learned that she did not want to marry him, but did feel joined to his life because of her immense gratitude to him for having corrupted her. She often said to him:

“I adore you because you made me a whore.”

Said in another way, she was right. Florentino Ariza had stripped her of the virginity of a conventional marriage, more pernicious than congenital virginity or the abstinence of widowhood. He had taught her that nothing one does in bed is immoral if it helps to perpetuate love.

Related Characters: Widow Nazaret (speaker), Florentino Ariza
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

But in those solitary Masses they began to be aware that once again they were mistresses of their fate, after having renounced not only their family name but their own identity in exchange for a security that was no more than another of a bride’s many illusions. They alone knew how tiresome was the man they loved to distraction, who perhaps loved them but whom they had to continue nurturing until his last breath as if he were a child, suckling him, changing his soiled diapers, distracting him with a mother’s tricks to ease his terror at going out each morning to face reality. And nevertheless, when they watched him leave the house, this man they themselves had urged to conquer the world, then they were the ones left with the terror that he would never return. That was their life. Love, if it existed, was something separate: another life.

Related Characters: Florentino Ariza
Page Number: 202-203
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

She was still a child in every sense of the word, with braces on her teeth and the scrapes of elementary school on her knees, but he saw right away the kind of woman she was soon going to be, and he cultivated her during a slow year of Saturdays at the circus, Sundays in the park with ice cream, childish late afternoons, and he won her confidence, he won her affection, he led her by the hand, with the gentle astuteness of a kind grandfather, toward his secret slaughterhouse. For her it was immediate: the doors of heaven opened to her.

Related Characters: Florentino Ariza, América Vicuña
Page Number: 272
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

Still looking at her, he said without warning:

“I am going to marry.”

She looked into his eyes with a flash of uncertainty, her spoon suspended in midair, but then she recovered and smiled.

“That’s a lie,” she said. “Old men don’t marry.”

Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis:

It had to be a mad dream, one that would give her the courage she would need to discard the prejudices of a class that had not always been hers but had become hers more than anyone’s. It had to teach her to think of love as a state of grace: not the means to anything but the alpha and omega, an end in itself.

Related Characters: Florentino Ariza, Fermina Daza
Related Symbols: Letters
Page Number: 293
Explanation and Analysis:

“A century ago, life screwed that poor man and me because we were too young, and now they want to do the same thing because we are too old.” She lit a cigarette with the end of the one she was smoking, and then she gave vent to all the poison that was gnawing at her insides.

“They can all go to hell,” she said. “If we widows have any advantage, it is that there is no one left to give us orders.”

Related Characters: Fermina Daza (speaker), Florentino Ariza, Ofelia Urbino Daza
Page Number: 323-324
Explanation and Analysis:

At night they were awakened not by the siren songs of manatees on the sandy banks but by the nauseating stench of corpses floating down to the sea. For there were no more wars or epidemics, but the swollen bodies still floated by. The Captain, for once, was solemn: “We have orders to tell the passengers that they are accidental drowning victims.”

Page Number: 336
Explanation and Analysis:

It was as if they had leapt over the arduous calvary of conjugal life and gone straight to the heart of love. They were together in silence like an old married couple wary of life, beyond the pitfalls of passion, beyond the brutal mockery of hope and the phantoms of disillusion: beyond love. For they had lived together long enough to know that love was always love, anytime and anyplace, but it was more solid the closer it came to death.

Related Characters: Florentino Ariza, Fermina Daza
Page Number: 345
Explanation and Analysis:

The Captain looked at Fermina Daza and saw on her eyelashes the first glimmer of wintry frost. Then he looked at Florentino Ariza, his invincible power, his intrepid love, and he was overwhelmed by the belated suspicion that it is life, more than death, that has no limits.

“And how long do you think we can keep up this goddamn coming and going?” he asked.

Florentino Ariza had kept his answer ready for fifty-three years, seven months, and eleven days and nights.

“Forever,” he said.

Related Characters: Florentino Ariza (speaker), Diego Samaritano (The Ship Captain) (speaker), Fermina Daza
Page Number: 348
Explanation and Analysis:
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Love in the Time of Cholera PDF

Florentino Ariza Character Timeline in Love in the Time of Cholera

The timeline below shows where the character Florentino Ariza appears in Love in the Time of Cholera. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Social Norms vs. Personal Fulfillment Theme Icon
At that scene, Florentino Ariza, a man in the crowd, feels a pang of emotion. He played an important... (full context)
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Moral Corruption and Cynicism Theme Icon
...to all her friends, she prepares to lock herself in her house when she sees Florentino Ariza standing by her door. Before she can say anything, Florentino tells her that he... (full context)
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It is only after Fermina hears Florentino leave that the full weight of her husband’s death affects her. She cries, realizing, as... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Florentino Ariza has loved Fermina Daza without ceasing ever since their adolescent relationship. Florentino was the... (full context)
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Although Florentino becomes the most sought-after bachelor in his circle, he falls in love with Fermina Daza... (full context)
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Florentino later discovers that Lorenzo Daza arrived from Spain after the death of his wife with... (full context)
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Florentino proceeds to seek Fermina everywhere. He sits in the park next to her house. He... (full context)
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...after spying on Fermina in various locations and believing that she has not noticed him, Florentino boldly walks up to Fermina, who is alone in her doorway, and tells her that... (full context)
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This event affects Florentino’s health. He loses his appetite and suffers from diarrhea, vomiting, and fainting. Although Tránsito knows... (full context)
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Florentino’s state affects the quality of his work, but his friend Lotario Thugut protects him. Lotario... (full context)
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After a month of waiting, Florentino finally talks to Escolástica, asking her to allow him to see Fermina alone. Impressed by... (full context)
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Fermina then answers Florentino and the two of them fall desperately in love. They think about each other all... (full context)
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Aware of Lorenzo Daza’s domineering attitude, Escolástica allows Fermina to communicate secretly with Florentino. The young lovers hide letters in secret spots. Tránsito becomes worried by her son’s state,... (full context)
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...the city, a curfew is instituted. Too self-absorbed to be aware of the external world, Florentino is imprisoned one night as a potential spy but is released after three days. After... (full context)
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Unsurprised by this turn of events, Florentino’s mother, Tránsito, has long negotiated to rent the entire house they live in, instead of... (full context)
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In the meantime, Florentino reads and memorizes a variety of love poems that fuel his letters. He also spends... (full context)
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Four months before Florentino and Fermina have promised to be engaged, Lorenzo Daza approaches Florentino and tells him that... (full context)
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...woman, far from the innocence of adolescence. Fermina, however, refused to change her mind about Florentino and threatened to kill herself with a meat knife. As a result, Lorenzo resolved to... (full context)
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Lorenzo admits to Florentino that his only goal is for his daughter to become a high-society lady. Lorenzo works... (full context)
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...throughout the countryside, suffering fear and hardship. However, Fermina remains convinced that her love with Florentino will remain strong. She and her father see hanged corpses and meet various soldiers, signs... (full context)
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...taken care of. When her cousin hands her a telegraphed letter, Fermina cries, understanding that Florentino was able to use the telegraph network in the country to write to her. (full context)
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...in her letters she determines to organize the practical details of her future relationship with Florentino, as she is convinced that she can only have a happy life if she shares... (full context)
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In the meantime, Florentino resolves to go diving to find the sunken galleon, the San José, and its treasures.... (full context)
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This encourages Florentino to mention his enterprise to Fermina, who believes that this is one of Florentino’s many... (full context)
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One positive aspect of this adventure, though, is that Florentino discovers the beauty of the lighthouse and becomes friends with the lighthouse keeper. On Sundays,... (full context)
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Florentino then suddenly learns that Fermina is returning to the city. That night, he can’t sleep.... (full context)
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...goes to the market with Gala Placidia, their black servant from the old slave quarters. Florentino is amazed to see her pass next to him. She has changed during her time... (full context)
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Overwhelmed and fascinated by Fermina’s beauty, Florentino still finds the courage to act quickly and talk to Fermina in the Arcade of... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...him, saying “Poor man,” realizing that these are the same words she used to pity Florentino Ariza. (full context)
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...bodies, and smoke cigars. Hildebranda decides to go to the telegraph office, where she observes Florentino Ariza. Although she finds him miserable-looking and inelegant, she is soon impressed by his kindness... (full context)
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...it becomes apparent that every place they see is a marker of Fermina’s relationship with Florentino. Fermina realizes that her affair with Florentino is the only thing that has ever taken... (full context)
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...she writes Dr. Urbino a letter, telling him that he can talk to her father. Florentino Ariza soon discovers that Fermina is going to marry the doctor and falls into deep... (full context)
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During this trip, Florentino’s first journey outside the city, the ship captain takes rigid measures to prevent harm to... (full context)
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In general, all of Florentino’s thoughts tend toward Fermina. However, one night, when he is walking to the bathroom, someone... (full context)
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Florentino tries to identify the mysterious woman, but fails to do so. He believes it had... (full context)
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...from which people can go to Antioquia, a region affected by the civil war, and Florentino realizes too late that Rosalba and her family are leaving. This makes him feel lonely.... (full context)
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On the event of the boat’s last stop, Florentino imagines Fermina’s wedding for himself, torturing himself with these images, even though he later realizes... (full context)
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When Florentino arrives, he is convinced he can smell Fermina Daza’s scent in the air. Then he... (full context)
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...her son’s room in the hope that she might make him forget Fermina. Sitting on Florentino’s bed, the woman, who is 28 years old, begins to tell him about her grief... (full context)
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Florentino continues to see Widow Nazaret on a regular basis, and she seeks to imitate love... (full context)
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This experience serves as the first in a long series of affairs. Florentino’s solitary attitude gives women the impression they are doing him a favor and he, in... (full context)
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Although Florentino is convinced he has all but forgotten Fermina Daza, he once sees her in the... (full context)
Chapter 4
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When Florentino Ariza sees Fermina and Dr. Urbino so triumphant together, he decides that he will become... (full context)
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In the early years of Florentino’s new job at the River Company of the Caribbean, he is incapable of writing official... (full context)
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Uncle Leo XII tells Florentino that his father, Don Pius V Loayza, conceived him in an unlocked office room on... (full context)
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After work, overwhelmed by his love for Fermina, Florentino begins writing love letters free of charge in the Arcade of the Scribes. He has... (full context)
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In the meantime, Florentino’s friends become persuaded that he has changed permanently, and Florentino knows that this is because... (full context)
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Florentino, in turn, has developed a steady habit of making love without actually feeling love. When... (full context)
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...She now has a regular lover, Rosendo de la Rosa, a riverboat captain, who brings Florentino to Ausencia’s house. During lunch, in which Rosendo drinks an enormous quantity of alcohol, Florentino... (full context)
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At 50 years old, Ausencia is an expert in love-making. She always welcomes Florentino naked, even though he never announces himself. She undresses him immediately, but Florentino is careful... (full context)
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After two weeks, when Ausencia lets him kiss her before undressing him, Florentino knows that she has developed feelings for him. One day, after spending the afternoon in... (full context)
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Florentino beings to see Ausencia less, not because of the desolation of her house but because... (full context)
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On the trolley, Florentino also meets Leona Cassiani. She is “the true woman of his life” even though they... (full context)
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Leona Cassiani becomes a highly talented employee. She submits ideas to Florentino’s Uncle Leo XII to reform the company, and he ultimately creates a new position for... (full context)
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Although Florentino never fully grasps the extent of Leona’s actions, he is full of regret that he... (full context)
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Leona is the only person with whom Florentino ever feels inclined to share his secret love for Fermina Daza. He realizes that, apart... (full context)
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Dr. Urbino was told once that Florentino had been in love with Fermina, but he had quickly forgotten it, finding the matter... (full context)
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Reflecting on Dr. Urbino’s cultural activities, including the organization of the Poetic Festival, Florentino remembers that, despite participating every year, he has never won a prize. One year, a... (full context)
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During that event, Florentino meets a woman wearing only black who consoles him when his name is not called.... (full context)
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Florentino makes their affair clandestine, even though Sara Noriega feels free and is not bothered to... (full context)
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Florentino visits Sara Noriega on a regular basis. However, her knowledge and skill at love-making convinces... (full context)
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...but lose. Sara Noriega is furious because she believes that Fermina Daza plotted against her. Florentino, on the other hand, is gloomy because Fermina Daza has changed deeply and now looks... (full context)
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Then, Florentino realizes that Sara Noriega is also affected by the passing of time, as she spends... (full context)
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Florentino concludes that he is meant to make a widow happy. In his experience of spending... (full context)
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In the meantime, Fermina gives Florentino absolutely no thought. Although she once felt pity for her suitor, she never regretted her... (full context)
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Once, Fermina wonders if she would have been happier with Florentino Ariza. That very night, she confides her worries to Dr. Urbino, forcing both of them... (full context)
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Florentino Ariza has also suffered during this period. His mother, Tránsito, is losing her memory, sometimes... (full context)
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During this time, Florentino helps a young woman, Olimpia Zuleta, find her parasol and later takes her back to... (full context)
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Six months after their first meeting, Florentino and Olimpia finally meet to make love in a cabin by the docks. There, Florentino... (full context)
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Tránsito’s death condemns Florentino to his ordinary routine and time passes by without him noticing, until he realizes it... (full context)
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Regarding Florentino, Fermina feels only pity and guilt. However, she soon becomes affected by nostalgia for the... (full context)
Chapter 5
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To Florentino, who see the couple return from this trip, such public events—and the aging he’s noticed... (full context)
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...and Dr. Urbino go to see a movie, which she says out loud is boring. Florentino, who is also there with Leona Cassiani, recognizes her voice. After the event, he sees... (full context)
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After this, Florentino accompanies Leona home. In her apartment, in which he has spent many Sundays, he tries... (full context)
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Florentino is now 56 and has entered old age. He struggled to keep from balding but... (full context)
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...XII retires after many years at the head of the River Company of the Caribbean. Florentino decides to spend his Sundays with him, since he no longer sees him at work.... (full context)
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Florentino then recalls the various lovers he has had over the years. He notes that he... (full context)
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...Varón, had both women and men as lovers. She was the only one for whom Florentino ever paid to have sex, though they negotiated a symbolic fee of one peso and... (full context)
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Around the time when Dr. Urbino dies, Florentino is having an affair with a 14-year-old girl, América Vicuña, to whom Florentino, her relative... (full context)
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On Pentecost Sunday, after making love, they hear church bells ring continuously. Florentino knows that Jeremiah de Saint-Amour had died but concludes that the bells must be ringing... (full context)
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When they enter the carriage, the driver tells Florentino that the bells are ringing for a famous doctor. Florentino immediately understands that Dr. Urbino... (full context)
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Florentino has fantasized about, and waited for this moment his entire life. Full of determination, he... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Although Florentino interprets Fermina Daza’s letter as a proof of love, she wrote it out of pure... (full context)
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...to move her life forward instead of wallowing in her sadness. Her only obstacle is Florentino, for whom she now feels rage and hatred. She is offended by his actions but... (full context)
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When Fermina saw Florentino with Leona Cassiani in the movie theater, she had been surprised to observe his self-assurance.... (full context)
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Florentino, too, is suffering. He wishes for the presence of Tránsito, who always comforted him, or... (full context)
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On Saturday, the day Florentino usually spends with América, he tells her that they will not make love and that... (full context)
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Florentino decides to apologize to Fermina. After receiving her letter, he was not hurt by her... (full context)
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Florentino begins writing regular letters to Fermina, satisfied that she has not sent any back. After... (full context)
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On the anniversary of Dr. Urbino’s death, Florentino goes to the memorial Mass without being invited. When Fermina sees him, however, she walks... (full context)
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...as the Widow Urbino, and her children visit her occasionally. She becomes increasingly curious about Florentino and asks her friend Lucrecia del Real del Obispo what she knows about him. Lucrecia... (full context)
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Two weeks later, Florentino comes to visit Fermina without announcing himself. Fermina panics but ultimately invites him in, although... (full context)
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Two days later, Florentino has tea at Fermina’s house. They talk about various topics, and though Florentino tries to... (full context)
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On one occasion, during his regular Tuesday visits, Florentino shows Fermina the photograph of her and  Hildebranda. He had seen it for sale in... (full context)
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Dr. Urbino Daza invites Florentino to have lunch with him. During this lunch, he details his theory that old people... (full context)
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That afternoon, Florentino falls on the stairs leading to his office, and the doctor tells him to stay... (full context)
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In the meantime, Leona Cassiani and América take care of Florentino, who is stuck in bed. Florentino soon learns of América’s troubles at school but still... (full context)
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After a couple of weeks, Fermina realizes that she misses Florentino’s visits. She becomes convinced that her youthful excitement for Florentino had not been love, and... (full context)
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Fermina also receives a letter from Florentino containing a news clipping that declared that Dr. Juvenal Urbino and Lucrecia del Real had... (full context)
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Florentino then goes to visit Fermina, leaving his bed for the first time in two months.... (full context)
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Fermina’s daughter Ofelia finds the relationship between Fermina and Florentino utterly revolting. When she tells her mother this, Fermina kicks her out of the house.... (full context)
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Although Florentino has offered Fermina to go on a boat cruise with him multiple times, it is... (full context)
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Dr. Urbino Daza and his wife accompany Fermina and Florentino to the ship. However, when Florentino announces that he is staying with her, Dr. Urbino... (full context)
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That night, Florentino and Fermina sit outside her cabin, and Florentino notices that Fermina is crying. When he... (full context)
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Enjoying holding Florentino’s hand in hers, Fermina reflects on her marriage. Although she does not regret marrying Dr.... (full context)
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...woman has decided to sleep with a man, nothing could stop her. She realizes that Florentino is now within reach in a way he had never been in their youth. That... (full context)
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...ear, does not eat that day and simply watches the landscape. She wonders what method Florentino will use to spend time with her. After hours of waiting, after evening had settled,... (full context)
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When they go to the observation deck, Fermina takes Florentino’s hand and exclaims that women are strange, which makes her laugh. However, she realizes that... (full context)
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That morning, Florentino receives an urgent telegram from Leona Cassiani informing him that América Vicuña is dead. A... (full context)
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...stop for fuel, forcing everyone to wait a week before moving again. During this period, Florentino is appalled by the state of the river and concludes that the only solution would... (full context)
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During this time, Fermina realizes that she has become deaf in her left ear. Florentino concludes that love becomes stronger during disasters, and the two of them sit happily together... (full context)
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The two of them lie on their back and speak of their lives. Florentino tells Fermina that he stayed virgin for her. Even though she does not believe him,... (full context)
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Later that day, Florentino returns anyway, ready to make love. Fermina feels compassion for his awkward beginner’s movements, noting... (full context)
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...board and see her on a trip with a man who is not her husband. Florentino understands and convinces the Captain to sail with a flag indicating cholera on board, which... (full context)
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...a rapid pace. To celebrate this felicitous decision, Fermina prepares a special eggplant dish that Florentino calls “Eggplant Al Amor.” The ship makes one stop early on in which a beautiful... (full context)
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...they have a joyful party. Unlike what Captain Samaritano and Zenaida believe, however, Fermina and Florentino do not feel like young lovers. Rather, they are experiencing feelings at the core of... (full context)
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...near the port, Fermina realizes that being back in the city will feel like dying. Florentino feels the same way and is suddenly overwhelmed by grief for América Vicuña. He has... (full context)
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After listening to Captain Samaritano, Florentino offers an original solution: to sail all the way back to La Dorada. When Fermina... (full context)