Love in the Time of Cholera
Chapter 2 (continued)
Transito's influence on Florentino's wedding plans to Euclides' exposure as a thief
Transito demands two conditions for Florentino and Fermina's marriage, both of which they accept: that the engagement be long and secretive, and that they discover more about the elusive Lorenzo Daza. Lotario Thugut leaves the telegr aph office to manage the transient hotel, of which is the new owner. Lotario gives Florentino a hotel room free of charge, though Florentino prefers writing to Fermina over rendezvous with the prostitutes who live there. One afternoon, the haggard cleanin g woman pathetically attempts a sexual encounter with Florentino by boldly grabbing him while he reads, but he resists, adamant that he will preserve his virginity for Fermina.
The Mother Superior at the Academy catches Fermina writing a love letter during class, and, because Fermina refuses to reveal her lover's identity, she is expelled. Lorenzo searches Fermina's room and discovers Florentino's letters. He promptly ships Au nt Escolástica back to her birthplace. In reaction to her father's cruel treatment of Escolástica, Fermina locks herself in her room and refuses to eat or drink. Lorenzo explodes in anger and Fermina holds a meat knife to her throat with so steady a han d that he dares not challenge her. This incident provokes his visit to Florentino at the telegraph office.
Lorenzo Daza buys Florentino a glass of anisette at the Parish Cafe and requests that he stay out of his and his daughter's lives. Florentino counters that Fermina should be the one to make the decision. Lorenzo threatens to shoot him, but Florentino chal lenges him, declaring that it is noble to die for love. Lorenzo does not shoot Florentino, but instead takes Fermina on a long journey so that she will forget him. She resists, but to no avail. Certain she will never return, Fermina writes a farewell note to Florentino on a scrap of toilet paper, and sends it to him with her long braid, which she cuts from the nape of her neck.
One day, a mule falls into the ravine, dragging with it an entire line of people and animals, and Fermina is saddened that she had not also fallen. During the trip, she refuses to speak to her father, and she does not eat or sleep. When they reach Valledu par, Fermina and her father stay with her maternal uncle. Fermina is miserable, and only wants solitude in which to cry. Her cousin Hildebranda Sánchez, who is two years older than she, is also consumed by tragic love. Hildebranda gives Fermina eleven telegraph messages sent by Florentino; Lorenzo had telegraphed the trip itinerary to his brother, which Florentino sees and uses to track Fermina through a network of telegraph operators. Fermina and Florentino corresponded via secret telegraphs u ntil Lorenzo decides that Fermina has forgotten about her lover, and they return home.
Fermina Sánchez, Fermina's deceased mother, had married Lorenzo Daza in spite of her family's disapproval. Lorenzo, however, fails to realize that he is encouraging his daughter to repeat her mother's mistake. Hildebranda accompanies Fermina on the remainder of the trip, during which Fermina is content. She visits a fortune-teller who tells her that she will enjoy a happy marriage, which she cannot imagine with anyone but Florentino. More than ever, Fermina pledges herself to him, this time so seri ously that she will not attend a dance without his permission. She sends Florentino an urgent telegram in which she asks for his consent, which he gives.
Florentino writes to Fermina of his plans to salvage the treasure of the galleon (a sunken ship) in her honor. He recruits and pays Euclides, a young, strong swimmer, to help him on his mission. He swears Euclides to secrecy, and does not reveal to hi m the true purpose of his trip. After nearly two months of fruitless searching, Euclides emerges from his dive underwater with women's jewelry. He tells Florentino, who cannot swim, that he has found many sunken ships full of treasure. Florentino thinks h e has found the galleon, but Fermina knows better; the galleon is far beyond human reach, at a depth of two hundred meters. Florentino's mother bites a piece of the found jewelry, which is not real, and tells her son that he is being taken advantage of by Euclides.
When Fermina is caught writing a love letter in school, and is cruelly punished by her father, her adoration of Florentino intensifies. Before she is caught, Fermina is a distant, reluctant lover, but after her forced departure from the city, she becomes an impassioned, lustful young woman who can imagine nothing worse than a world without her lover, and would choose death over his absence from her life. Initially, Fermina is altogether resistant to Florentino's approach of her, and will not even look him in the eyes; even when he does finally win her over, she is not touched by the zealous, poetic confessions of his letters, but can only reply with dull, distant, and passionless descriptions of her daily routine. Why, then, are Fermina's amorous feelings for Florentino suddenly amplified when she is caught writing him one such spiritless letter? Although it may seem that Fermina's love for Florentino grows stronger, her love is insincere, for she is not suddenly impassioned by love, but by rebellion.
Fermina is a young woman of great pride; she is self-righteous and stubborn, and cannot bear it when her father exhibits control over her. By holding the knife to her throat, Fermina desperately attempts to control her father; once on the trip, however, s he must obey her father and abide by his demands. Her father requires that Fermina extinguish any memory of her love Florentino. Whether her desire to seek revenge on her father is conscious or not, Fermina is more compelled than ever to be with Florentin o because their love is now completely forbidden.
Another essential factor leading to Fermina's desire for revenge is her overt immaturity, which she expresses by being stubborn and belligerent. Fermina is an angst-ridden teenager, clearly not yet a woman, for she rebels against her father's authority no t by compromising with him, but by refusing to eat and sleep, and by ignoring him. Fermina cannot yet make mature decisions, for she possesses neither the wisdom of age or experience to do so. Thus, she is not yet mature enough to know a serious, adult lo ve. If Florentino's passion for Fermina is founded in obsession, Fermina's passion for him is founded in her desire for revenge on her father, and her inability to distinguish true love from puppy love.
Similarly, an adult woman with romantic experience would be unlikely to write her lover a farewell note on a scrap of toilet paper; this particular action is imparted with humor, but also with the intention of portraying Fermina as a naive young girl who is caught in the throes of juvenile romance. Fermina's farewell note to Florentino is much like her acceptance of his marriage proposal: both are carelessly written on scraps of torn paper, and though Fermina surely thinks them very serious, the reader is meant to find them humorous. Naturally, it is ludicrous for Fermina, or any woman, to write her lover a desperate, passionate note of farewell on a scrap of toilet tissue. Likewise, it is equally absurd to scribble an acceptance to a marriage proposal on a scrap of torn notebook paper. Fermina's overtly juvenile behavior serves as a vivid reminder that she is not yet ready for a serious, adult romance with Florentino.
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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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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