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Love in the Time of Cholera

Gabriel García Márquez
Summary Chapter 2 (continued)
Summary Chapter 2 (continued)

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.

Analysis

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.