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Love in the Time of Cholera

Gabriel García Márquez

Important Quotations Explained

Chapter 6

Key Facts

[Lorenzo Daza] . . . lowered his voice. "Don't force me to shoot you," he said. Florentino felt his intestines filling with cold froth. But his voice did not tremble because he felt himself illuminated by the Holy Spirit. "Shoot me," he said, with his hand on his chest. "There is no greater glory than to die for love."

This brazen declaration is made in Chapter 2 by the impassioned Florentino Ariza at the Parish Café, where Lorenzo Daza buys him a glass of anisette and orders him to stay out of his and Fermina's lives. Ultimately, Lorenzo does not shoot Florentino, but instead, cruelly forces Fermina to make a long journey through the mountains so that she will forget him. Florentino has courage enough to challenge Lorenzo, even in the face of his loaded gun, primarily because he feels "illuminated by the Holy Spirit," which can also be interpreted as his blind, reckless passion for Fermina, and his ruthless determination to make her his own. Secondly, Florentino declares, "there is no greater glory than to die for love" because, aside from conquering Fermina, he likes nothing more than delighting in the suffering his intense, obsessive love inflicts. Strangely, Florentino enjoys the suffering he endures for love; his suffering sustains him, for he sees his anguish as a gratifying, strengthening experience that will lead him to his ultimate desire: Fermina.

When Lorenzo Daza walked into the entryway, the crows, awake under their sheets, emitted a funereal shriek. "They will peck out your eyes," the Doctor said aloud, thinking of her . . . They saw him appear in the door [upon his return home], his face haggard and his entire being dishonored by the whorish perfume of the crows.

Dr. Juvenal Urbino warns Lorenzo Daza about the viciousness of the crows in Chapter 3, as he leaves their house on the Park of the Evangels, after having shown up, unprovoked, at the house to reexamine Fermina. Fermina rejects his attempt to court her, and slams the window shut in his face. She sarcastically apologizes to Dr. Urbino. When Urbino leaves the Daza's home, mildly drunk, he calls out to Fermina, who does not hear him over her tears of rage, furious at the Doctor and her father for humiliating her. Dr. Urbino persists, but Lorenzo warns him of his daughter's temper. Upon his departure, he hears the "funereal shriek[ing]" of the crows and compares them to women; the birds — like women, Fermina specifically — will peck out one's eyes. Throughout the text, birds are representative of threat and danger, as well as indecency and femininity. Fermina, in essence, represents all of these four meanings to Dr. Urbino; she is the object of his affections, but is vehemently resistant to his advances, and uses "unladylike" methods to ward him off. Most importantly, she poses the threat of breaking not his heart, but his reputation if she is to reject him.

"Fermina," he said, "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."

Florentino Ariza makes this vow to Fermina Daza at the close of Chapter 1, when he approaches her at her husband's wake, just after most of the guests have departed. Indeed, he has waited fifty-one years, nine months, and four days to repeat to her his vow of "eternal fidelity and everlasting love," for he has dedicated his adult life to making himself worthy of her, and has waited patiently for the day of her husband's death, the day on which he, for over fifty years, plans to reiterate his undying passion for her. Since Fermina had rejected him out of hand, despite their plans for marriage, upon her return from a long journey, Florentino is determined to once again claim Fermina as his own. It is this second profession of love, over half a century following her rejection of him, which begins the novel's story of how Florentino and Fermina fall in love, out of love, and in love once again.

At the height of pleasure he had experienced a revelation that he could not believe, that he even refused to admit, which was that his illusory love for Fermina Daza could be replaced by an earthly passion.

This quote is excerpted from the narration in Chapter 3 in reference to Florentino Ariza's unexpected loss of Virginity to Rosalba. Florentino's one, isolated encounter with Rosalba aboard the ship to Villa de Leyva forever changes his thoughts on love and sex. Before the encounter, Florentino insists that he will lose his virginity for love, only to Fermina. However, when he is suddenly seized by Rosalba, in the heat of passion, he is overwhelmed by a sudden and intense physical pleasure, a pleasure so fulfilling that it is enough to abet, or at least temporarily alleviate, the emotional pain he suffers from his tormented love of Fermina. Following his momentary revelation, sex serves as an antidote to his pain, a transitory, however effective drug with which to salve his agonizing, incurable ache for Fermina. After he loses his virginity to Rosalba, Florentino continually uses sex as an addict would a narcotic, for it is the one means by which he is able to forget his heartache and his desire for the woman who is the source of his anguish.

By two o'clock in the morning they had each drunk three brandies, and he knew, in truth, that he was not the man she was looking for, and he was glad to know it. "Bravo, lionlady," he said when he left. "We have killed the tiger."

When, in Chapter 5, Florentino announces that he and Leona Cassiani have "killed the tiger," he implies that they have overcome any remaining sexual tension between them, the "tiger" representing that tension. Since Florentino first meets Leona Cassiani, there is an enduring sexual tension between them, particularly because Florentino initially mistakes Leona for a whore, which, in reflection, he recalls as the worst mistake of his life. However, the current of sexual electricity that runs between Leona and Florentino lessens in the years after their first meeting. After going to a movie with Leona, and seeing the enfeebled Fermina Daza hobble out of the theater, Florentino realizes that she may die before he has the opportunity to profess his love for her, and feels that he must renounce his determination to do so. Upset, he asks Leona to invite him in for brandy. When he tries to seduce her, she tells him, with the utmost sincerity, that she has known for a long time that he is not the man she is looking for. Specifically, it is this statement that "kills the tiger."

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Error

by Trevor4274, August 17, 2012

Notes on Chapter Two contain an error. Florentino Ariza is not the man with whom the girls held lotteries to hang out with, until he saw Fermina Daza; that was Dr. Juvenal Urbino. See the first paragraph in Chapter 3 to see where this sentence refers to the latter.

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Lotteries for men

by gogogidge, May 07, 2013

Actually, women held lotteries to hang out with both men. When Florentino is introduced in chapter 2 Marquez mentions this on page 54. Then again, on page 105 (the first page of chapter 3), the lotteries for Dr. Urbino are mentioned.

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