Review Questions for Love in the Time of Cholera

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in Aracata, Colombia, in 1928. The genre in which this book is written is called Magical Realism, which involves supernatural occurrences and unbelievable events described with unblinking sincerity. Marquez writes of the reality of political oppression and proud familial obligations, which easily complement the magic of strong beliefs in the divine and supernatural. In doing so, he focuses on the meaning of reality, what it is, what it may be, and what it means to different people.

One

  1. What discovery does Dr. Juvenal Urbino come upon at the opening of the book?
  2. How had Jeremiah de Saint-Amour met Dr. Urbino?
  3. Why does Jeremiah de Saint-Amour take his own life?
  4. Why did his lover allow it?
  5. Why was Urbino’s city the most prosperous in the Caribbean during the 18th century?
  6. What is the disagreement between Dr. Urbino and his wife, Fermina Daza, concerning the subject of animals? Why does Urbino agree to the parrot?
  7. What does Urbino realize about the parrot as he returns home to ready himself for the silver anniversary luncheon?
  8. What characterizes the relationship with Urbino and his wife as they age, from their honeymoon to beyond their golden wedding anniversary?
  9. What event almost threatened to bring an end to their marriage?
  10. . What was revealed in the letter Saint-Amour had left? How did it sit with Urbino?
  11. . What does Urbino propose to do with all the negatives of the Saint-Amour?
  12. . What success did the fire department have in retrieving the parrot from its perch?
  13. . What are some of the signs Urbino notices of his imminent death?
  14. . How indeed does Urbino die?
  15. . For what had Urbino been most noted?
  16. . What does it mean for a house to be under the rule of death?
  17. . What is the role of Florentino Ariza at the wake? What confession does he make?

Two 

  1. Who is Florentino’s father?
  2. What type of person is Florentino?
  3. Who is Fermina Daza?
  4. What’s the attraction between Florentino and Fermina? How does he woo her?
  5. What two pieces of advice does Florentino get from his mother?
  6. What is Aunt Escolastica’s role in the courtship of Fermina and Florentino?
  7. What’s the obstacle to Fermina accepting the letter from Florentino?
  8. What’s the similarity between love and cholera?
  9. What is Transito Ariza’s role in this courtship?
  10. Why doesn’t Florentino accept Lotario’s offer to buy him a prostitute?
  11. What is Fermina’s greatest disappointment in the letter given to her by Florentino?
  12. What chiefly characterizes their love affair? What’s the difference between the two styles in their writing?
  13. What gifts do they exchange?
  14. What happens to Florentino when caught by a patrol for "sending messages to the Liberal ships"?
  15. How had Transito Ariza stored up money for her son’s marriage?
  16. What was there left to do in preparation for marriage after the financial situation was resolved?
  17. How does the tone of their letters change after their "engagement"?
  18. What is the cleaning lady’s motivation for going after Florentino?
  19. What does Lorenzo Daza do with his sister when he discovers the love affair?
  20. What does Lorenzo Daza tell Florentino during their meeting?
  21. What action does he take afterwards?
  22. What are some of the dangers the Dazas face on the road?
  23. How was Florentino able to keep up with Fermina during her year and a half away?
  24. What does Florentino want to do to provide for Fermina? What obstacle stands in his way?
  25. What is the significance of the lighthouse to Florentino?
  26. How has Fermina changed by the time of her return?
  27. What is Fermina’s response to her anti-climactic reunion with Florentino?

 Three

  1. What saddens young Dr. Juvenal Urbino about his hometown and his family upon his return from Paris?
  2. How does Urbino fit in with the medical crowd upon the establishment of his practice?
  3. What municipal blights are involved in Urbino’s campaign to clean up the city?
  4. What is Urbino’s obsession with cholera? How does this obsession help stave off another epidemic?
  5. How is it that Urbino comes to court Fermina Daza?
  6. What is the reaction of Lorenzo Daza to Urbino’s apparent interest in his daughter?
  7. What are Fermina Daza’s initial reactions to Urbino’s letters?
  8. Who is it, ironically, that Urbino sends as his emissary of love?
  9. How does the arrival of Hildebranda Sanchez, Fermina’s cousin, change things?
  10. What had been Fermina’s chief occupation during her waking hours?
  11. How have Fermina and her father reconciled themselves to one another?
  12. Why does Fermina finally accept Urbino’s offer?
  13. How does Florentino take the news? What does his mother, Transito, do for him?
  14. What is Florentino’s last desperate act before departing to Villa de Leyva?
  15. What characterizes Florentino’s trip down the river?
  16. How is it that Florentino loses his virginity on the boat? What revelation does this act give him concerning his memory of Fermina?
  17. Upon whom does his suspicions settle as to the mystery of his rape? Why?
  18. Why is it that Florentino decides to return home upon the boat’s reaching its destination?
  19. How does the Widow Nazaret end up in Florentino’s bed? What does she thank him for?
  20. What two advantages did Florentino have in his favor in pursuing his profligate lifestyle?
  21. How does Florentino feel when he sees Fermina and her husband upon their return from Europe?
  22. What disturbs Fermina most about her impending wedding night? How is that resolved?
  23. What is significant about the things that each bring back from Europe?

Four

  1. What is the resolution Florentino makes concerning his ‘relationship’ with Fermina?
  2. How does Florentino begin his plans?
  3. How is Uncle Leo XII not rich, but a "poor man with money"?
  4. What is Florentino’s greatest obstacle in his new job writing business letters? What becomes of that?
  5. What kind of man was Florentino’s father, Pius V Loayza?
  6. How is it that Florentino becomes involved in a "feverish correspondence with himself" while in the Arcade of Scribes writing letters for young lovers?
  7. How does Florentino change in the time following his steady employment?
  8. What request does Florentino make of his mother? How does she accommodate him?
  9. What are Florentino’s "rather simplistic theories" concerning the relationship between a woman’s appearance and her aptitude for love?
  10. Why does Florentino like Ausencia Santander? How does he learn that she had begun to love him?
  11. What happens to Ausencia’s possessions while she is making love to Florentino?
  12. What occurs to distract Florentino’s attention from Ausencia? What happens at Carnival?
  13. How was Leona Cassiani the true love in Florentino’s life?
  14. What contribution does Leona make to the River Company?
  15. What is the difference between men who love and men who don’t?
  16. How does Florentino lose his chance with Leona?
  17. Why does Urbino come to see Florentino?
  18. How does Leona come to share Florentino’s secret about Fermina?
  19. How does Sara Noriega pass in and out of Florentino’s life?
  20. What’s the allure of widows?
  21. In what way does Fermina remember Florentino?
  22. What does Fermina dislike about her husband?
  23. How does Fermina’s relationship with her husband evolve?
  24. What was the disastrous result of Florentino writing "This pussy is mine" on the belly of Olimpia Zuleta?
  25. How did the death of Florentino’s mother affect him?
  26. What birthday gift does Fermina ask of her husband?

Five

  1. What is the purpose of the balloon trip to San Juan de la Cienaga?
  2. Why does Florentino buy the mirror from Don Sancho’s Inn?
  3. Is Florentino justified in thinking that Fermina’s "pitiless indifference might not be a subterfuge for hiding the torments of love" (230)?
  4. What causes Fermina to leave her husband for two years?
  5. Who is Miss Barbara Lynch? Why does Fermina dismiss her as an unlikely candidate for her husband’s affair?
  6. What are the three problems Urbino faces in the pursuit of his affair?
  7. How are his adulterous lovemaking sessions characterized?
  8. In what way do you think Urbino wants to be "understood"?
  9. How and why does he break off the affair?
  10. What does Fermina seem to want from him after asking for the identity of the woman?
  11. What things enrage her about his answer?
  12. What is ravaging Fermina’s hometown upon her arrival?
  13. How does Fermina’s sojourn in the house of her cousin Hildebrande end?
  14. What causes Florentino to realize he would have to renounce his hope of Fermina?
  15. How was baldness characterized as Florentino’s greatest battle? (i. e. how does he deal with it?)
  16. Why doesn’t the idea of false teeth bother Florentino?
  17. What was the point of difference between Florentino and Uncle Leo XII as concerned the Riverboat Company?
  18. What is the significance of America Vicuna to Florentino?
  19. What’s the significance of Urbino dying on Pentacost Sunday?
  20. What is it that Florentino discovers under the door of his house after two weeks of agonizing pain?

Six

   1. How does Fermina compare herself to an amputee?
    2. What prompts Fermina to write to Florentino?
    3.  What comfort does the Widow of Two, Prudencia Pitre, offer Florentino?
    4.  How does Florentino break off his relationship with America Vicuna?
    5.  Why does Florentino feel he should respond to Fermina's letter?  What does he use to do so?
    6.  What characterizes the tone of his response to Fermina?   What does he hope to achieve by it?
    7.  How does America Vicuna take the change in her relationship with Florentino?
    8.  How had Fermina, in fact, received the letter?
    9.  How does Fermina come to defend Florentino?
    10. What ends their first meetin with one another at her house?
    11. What characterizes the conversation of their second?
    12. Why does Florentino bring a white rose to their Tuesday meetings?
    13. What lie does Fermina tell her son Dr. Urbino Daza about her relationship with Florentino?
    14. How is it that Florentino is invalided for two months?
    15. Why does Fermina reject his telephone calls?  What advice does she give him when he moves too fast along the subject of their past?
    16. What news does Fermina hear on the radio that shocks her?
    17. What effect does the newspaper Justice have on Fermina's fate?
    18. How had Lorenzo Daza been caught, specifically?  What does Justice do with him?
    19. How does Florentino find hope in the shattered life of Fermina?
    20. What is the difference between the way Ofelia views her mother's relationship and the way Dr. Urbino Daza sees it?
    21. What does Ofelia's resistance do to Fermina's spirit?
    22. How does Fermina react at first to Florentino's offer of a cruise?   How does she later react?
    23. How has the Great Magdalena River changed since Florentino's first visit?
    24. What trouble does Fermina's ear give her while on the boat?
    25. How do they fall in love again along the river?
    26. How did America Vicuna die?
    27. Why does Fermina tell Florentino not to look when she gets naked with him?
    28. Why do you think Florentino tells Fermina he's a virgin?
    29. What happened when Fermina first probed for Florentino's manhood?
    30. Why does Florentino choose to fly under the flag of cholera on the return trip?
    31. Why does Fermina feel that going home would be like dying?
    32. What is Florentino's solution to the dilemma? of the cholera flag? of their desire not to return?

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