The Nobel Prize winning Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the author of the novel “Love in the Time of Cholera” which was first published in the year 1985 in Spanish. The novel was translated into English by Alfred A. Knopf and published in the year 1988. The novel was also used for an English movie adaptation which was released in the year 2007. It is a story of love, aging and death; it tells the story of two lovers who et to reunite after living their lives separately for five decades.
The setting of the story in the book occurs primarily in a port city which is situated somewhere nearby of Caribbean Sea and the Magdalena River. The country is seemingly Columbia which is deduced from the mention of the author of the national anthem of Columbia, Rafael Nunez. Throughout the novel, there is no such name mentioned of the city, but there are certain descriptions and suggestions from which it can be said that the location of the story is based on Cartagena along with Magdalena River that is known to meet at the sea located nearby a city by the name of Barranquilla.
The fictional city of the novel is divided into categories like “the Arcade of the Scribes”, “the District of the Viceroys” and more. The timeline in which the story of the novel takes place can be approximately traced back to the year of 1880 and 1930. There are handful numbers of locations that are mentioned in the story; it includes the house that Fermina and Urbino share as a married couple. Next certain incidents take place in the transient hotel where Florentino is seen to be staying for a short period of time. There is the office of Ariza at the company of the river, the Magdalena River and also the Arcade of the Scribes.
The novel consists of two main characters by the name of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza. In their youth, Florentino and Fermina fall in love with each other. With the help of Escolastica, who is Fermina’s Aunt, a secret relationship between the two of them starts blossoming. They continue their relationship by exchanging love letters, but Fermina’s father gets to know about their relationship and compels his daughter to stop the relationship with Florentino immediately.
Fermina refuses her father’s orders and thus it forces her father to leave the city with his deceased wife’s family to another city. However, both Florentino and Fermina continue to be in touch through Telegraph despite the long distance. When Fermina returns, she realizes that her love and relationship with Florentino was a dream and nothing else since they are both practically strangers. Consequently, she breaks off the engagement and returns Florentino all of his letters.
After the relationship is over, Fermina meets and is courted by an accomplished national hero by the name of Dr. Juvenal Urbino. Initially, Fermina dislikes Urbino but due to her father’s persuasion along with the wealth and security that Urbino provides, she gives in her consent and they get married. Urbino is devoted to science since he is a physician; he commits himself in the work of eradicating cholera from the surface of the land and to promote his public works. Urbino is a rational man who lives precisely in an organized manner and has great values for his reputation in the society.
Florentino on the other hand swears to stay loyal and faithful to Fermina and waits for her even after her marriage and engagement. However, he cannot do so and becomes promiscuous; he ensures that Fermina does not get to know about the relationships that he has had over the years. Meanwhile, Urbino and Fermina have a reality based marriage, they grow old together and experience both happy as well as unhappy days.
At their elderly age, Urbino tries to get his pet parrot from the mango tree; unfortunately he falls of the ladder and dies. Once the funeral is over, Florentino declares his profound love for Fermina and states how he had waited for her all this time and how he stayed loyal for her. Fermina becomes hesitant at first since she had just recently widowed; however, the approach that Florentino made was improper yet Fermina thinks of giving him one second chance.
Both Fermina and Florentino attempt to have a married life together after having lived two completely separate lives for a period of fifty years. Towards the end of the story, it is revealed that Urbino has not been an entirely faithful husband to Fermina; he confesses one affair to his wife after many years of their marriage. It seems that the novel is suggesting that Urbino’s love for his wife Fermina was not as pure as Florentino’s.
However, the novel at the same time also complicates the devotion of Florentino to Fermina by cataloguing the trysts of Florentino’s and along with that the novel also catalogues his potential genuine love. Upon Urbino’s death, Florentino ends a relationship that he has with a fourteen year old girl abruptly so that he can be with Fermina. It is only at the end of the book that Fermina finally sees the wisdom and maturity of Florentino and only in their old age days their love gets to blossom.
The end of the novel shows a voyage in which both Florentino and Fermina go to; it is on this voyage that both of them finally make love. The ship reaches the last port and Fermina recognises some people and starts fretting about the fact that what they will say if they saw her with Florentino. Florentino orders the captain to raise a yellow flag symbolising cholera and thus there are no passengers remaining on board except Florentino, Fermina, the Captain and his lover. Since there is an outbreak of cholera, none of the port would allow them to dock. Hence, they are exiled to a cruise on the river forever.