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Themes

Unlike most novels where characters, if they die, die at the end of the book, Love in the Time of Cholera features two deaths in the first half of the first chapter.  From the very beginning, where Dr. Urbino smells the fumes that killed his friend Jeremiah, the theme of death is connected to the theme of love. Such references are never a dead end (sorry, sorry!) to the story, though. Thanks to the novel's circular structure, we can repeat the story of Dr. Urbino's death and refer to the characters' mortality time and time again.  Yes, there is narrative after death – which corroborates the appearance of a ghost in the story and the Captain's sense at the end that it is life, and not death, that seems to be eternal. 

Questions About Death

  1. Describe Dr. Urbino's philosophy of "fatalistic humanism."  How does his perspective on death differ from Florentino's?
  2. How are love and death connected in the novel?  Why do you think it is that García Márquez insists on reminding us about death at certain key romantic moments, like when Dr. Urbino starts to fall for Fermina, or when Florentino and Fermina kiss for the first time?
  3. Oddly enough, Dr. Urbino, who in life adopts a philosophy of scientific rationalism, seems to linger on in death as some sort of spirit who appears to Fermina from time to time.  Do you think Dr. Urbino's continuing presence after his death is compatible with his worldview?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In his constant rejection of the restrictions of reality, Florentino manages in the end to deny the power of death and thus attains a sort of immortality.

In Love in the Time of Cholera García Márquez chips away at the boundary between life and death, reminding us that death is a part of life and that life may continue beyond death.

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