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."