Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Are we the only ones who feel a bit nervous about birds after reading this book? After all, here they pretty much always seem to appear when someone is about to die. There's the parrot in Chapter 1, for starters, who lures Dr. Urbino up a tree and to his death. Then there are the perfumed crows in Fermina's childhood home – stinky, morbid creatures who trip the young Dr. Urbino up and cause him to miss an urgent house call, resulting in a man's death. These morbid associations lend a worrisome tone to the descriptions of Florentino's hunt for sexual partners as "hawking" for "frightened little birds." Our fears are founded when Florentino's affair with a "pigeon fancier" (carried out primarily through messages delivered by carrier pigeon) results in the woman's murder.