Fermina Daza is a woman of immense pride, and thus is able to compose herself in the face of her husband's tragic death. Initially, she feels more anger than sadness at the loss of her husband, because she regrets not assuring him, "regardless of their doubts," that she loves him, and realizes that she will never have another chance to tell him so. That such "doubts" exist infers that something had gone awry in their marriage, and foreshadows an upcoming — and essential — part of the novel.
Fermina knows that she is soon going to die, as is revealed when she places her wedding band on her husband's lifeless finger and vows to join him. This gesture indicates her attachment and dedication to the Doctor, whom she genuinely and deeply cares for. Fermina fulfills her usual role as the commander of the household when she demands that her husband's vigil be strictly private. As the Doctor has lived his life in the public spotlight, lording power and influence over the city from his esteemed public positions, Fermina retreats to the home, comfortable in an intimate setting, and it is there that she is boss, in control of herself and of the situation, a control she exhibits throughout the funeral and wake.
It is only when she is approached, caught off-guard, by Florentino Ariza that Fermina nearly loses her composure. Even without knowing the history between Florentino and Fermina, we can infer from this incident that Florentino's love for Fermina is overwhelmingly strong and enduring, so strong that he feels compelled to reiterate his vow of eternal fidelity and love upon the first opportunity presented to him.
Fermina's startled, angered reaction to Florentino's professed love raises yet more questions about the history of their past relationship; what is the "drama" that Fermina had provoked at the age of eighteen, over half a century ago? And what had provoked her to erase Florentino from her memory? Clearly, Florentino is far more in love with Fermina than she is with him; Fermina does not seem to have any feelings for him at all, except for the burning rage she feels upon hearing his confession. Following this chapter, the relationship between Florentino and Fermina is adopted as the novel's primary focus, and the book recedes in time to explain both the history of Florentino and Fermina's mutual relations, and their individual lives.
Consistently throughout the novel, the presence of rain is either indicative or foreboding of a pivotal scene or critical turn of events in the book, such as when torrential rains flood the city on the day of Dr. Urbino's funeral. Rains had also ravaged the city on Pentecost Sunday, the day of the Doctor's death. Rain and other kinds of water (rivers, puddles, tears) are frequently represented in the book as bearers of cleansing and change, whether that change be positive or negative. The prominent downpour of the first chapter brings upon two immense changes, the first of which is the death of the prominent Doctor, and the second, the reappearance of Florentino Ariza in Fermina's life.