That afternoon, Fermina sends Florentino a two-line letter that explains how, upon seeing him, she had felt that their love had been an illusion. Fermina also returns everything Florentino has sent her, and asks that he do the same with the items she has
sent to him. Desperate, he writes her countless letters, which she refuses to accept. Finally, he returns all of her letters and gifts, with the exception of her braid, which he agrees to return only if he is allowed to speak to her in person. After sh
e refuses, Transito Ariza speaks to Fermina, but to no avail. Fermina does not even invite Transito inside the house. Defeated, Florentino allows his mother to return the braid. In the fifty-one years, nine months, and four days that follow, not onc
e does Florentino have the chance to speak or see his beloved Fermina in private—until the day he repeats his vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love.
At twenty-eight years old, Dr. Juvenal Urbino is the most-desired of bachelors. The girls hold secret lotteries to determine who will spend time with him, and he plays along—until he meets and falls in love with Fermina Daza. When he returns f
rom Paris, where he had studied advanced medicine and surgery, he is saddened upon the sight of his beloved city, which has deteriorated after having suffered through an economic crisis and a cholera epidemic. Urbino's own family had not been spared; his