Fermina's suspicious search of Dr. Urbino's office to Florentino's discovery of Fermina's letter

Fermina looks through Dr. Urbino's medical records, but finds no evidence that he is having an affair. One night, she awakens to see Urbino staring at her with hatred, though he insists her vision is a dream. That weekend, Fermina notices that Urbino does not take communion, and has not been taking it for weeks. When she first confronts him, he gives an evasive answer. When Fermina confronts Urbino again, she asks, without harshness, what is going on. The Doctor replies that Fermina knows better than he, which marks the end of the confrontation, and the end of his affair with Miss Barbara Lynch, a beautiful, twenty-seven year-old mulatta. She will not allow the Doctor to take off her clothes, though she will allow him all of the "ethical violations" he desires during his daily examinations of her. During the affair, Urbino suffers in anguish; he rushes in and out of Barbara's house, burdened by remorse and wishing that his desire for her would end.

After Fermina confronts him, he never visits Barbara again. On the night Fermina confronts Urbino, he confesses that he thinks he is going to die. Fermina replies that it would be for the best, cries tears of rage as she lies in bed. She tells Urbino that she has a right to know the identity of the woman, and he confesses all. When he tells Fermina that he had confessed such intimacies to a priest, she is enraged, for since her days at the Academy, she has been convinced that those who are associated with the Church lack virtue inspired by God.

Days after her husband's confession, Fermina sails to another village to stay with Hildebranda. Beforehand, she visits her birthplace and finds it defiled by poverty, prostitution, and cholera. When the Bishop reports that Fermina will not return from Hildebranda's ranch because she is unable to overcome her pride, Urbino goes to retrieve his wife without first telling her, though he corresponds with Hildebranda, who does not forewarn Fermina either, to let her know of his visit. Fermina is overjoyed by the sound of her husband's voice, and returns home with him, though she resigns to make him pay for the pain he has caused her.

Florentino and Leona Cassiani sit in front of Fermina and Urbino at a movie. Afterwards, the Doctor greets them with a handshake, and Fermina gives a courteous smile. Florentino is shocked by the sight of Fermina, for she now looks very old; she trips as she exits. Having seen Fermina in such a state, Florentino knows he will have to renounce his love for her. Later, he asks Leona to invite him in for brandy. Leona warns Florentino when he tries to seduce her, and reveals that she has known for a long time that he is not the man she is looking for. Florentino leaves at three in the morning and announces victoriously that he and his "lionlady," Leona, have "killed the tiger."

It occurs to fifty-six year-old Florentino that Fermina may die before he does. Florentino himself has crossed the line into old age; he is both bald and toothless. Six months after Uncle Leo is ordered by his physician to leave work, Florentino is named President and Manager of the company, and during his inauguration party, recalls the women he has been with. He believes that one can love many at once, without betraying one of them. Presently, Florentino is with Andrea Varon, a prostitute with whom he breaks his vow never to pay for love, though they agree on a symbolic fee of one peso, which he does not offer and she does not accept.