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Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera


by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Dr. Juvenal Urbino Timeline and Summary

  • Dr. Urbino responds to an urgent house call at the home of his friend, Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, who has committed suicide. He reflects that this is the first suicide he's seen that wasn't provoked by an unrequited love.
  • Dr. Urbino is a pretty important man – he pulls some strings to have plans for the funeral sped up.
  • The death of his friend causes the doctor to miss mass for the third time in his long life.
  • Dr. Urbino has his coachman drive him to the address specified in Jeremiah's final letter to him. It's a house in the old slave quarter, a pretty run-down part of town, and it's inhabited by a woman who turns out to be Jeremiah's secret lover. She tells Dr. Urbino the reason Jeremiah committed suicide.
  • Dr. Urbino returns home to find that the household parrot has escaped. We learn that the parrot is to be the cause of Dr. Urbino's death. He sends for the fire department to help catch the bird.
  • Now that Dr. Urbino is old, we learn that he and his wife no longer fight about the trivial domestic matters that once seemed so important.
  • Dr. Urbino is distressed by the details of his friend's letter, which revealed that Jeremiah had been a fugitive who had once eaten human flesh. Yet Fermina defends him.
  • Fermina dresses her husband for a luncheon to honor one of his former medical students. At the luncheon, Dr. Urbino alternates between acting senile and getting drunk.
  • Dr. Urbino returns home to take a nap, enjoy the smell of his own urine, and do some light reading by a Nazi sympathizer. What a day.
  • Dr. Urbino chases the still-at-large parrot up a mango tree, falls off a ladder, and breaks his neck. He manages to say goodbye to his wife right before he dies.
  • We don't hear about Dr. Urbino again until Chapter 3, when he appears as a young, studly 28-year-old recently returned from Paris.
  • Dr Urbino's great mission in life is to rid his city of cholera, the disease that killed his father. He had received a telegram informing him of his father's death while in Paris, and returned filled with a sense of civic responsibility.
  • Dr. Urbino remembers an instance in his childhood in which his father's mortality became clear to him. He is now the same age as his father was in that memory, and he feels mortal.
  • Dr. Urbino's efforts spare the city from a cholera epidemic, and he finally starts to get some respect.
  • The doctor first meets Fermina when he is called to her house to examine a supposed case of cholera. Fermina is the patient, and she doesn't have cholera, as it turns out. Her grateful father pays the doctor an exorbitant sum and tries to set him up with his daughter.
  • When Dr. Urbino stops by again and tries to hit on Fermina, she snubs him. Her father forces her to apologize and then invites the doctor for a drink. Dr. Urbino gets drunk and misses an urgent message that a man has had a brain hemorrhage. As he returns home, he hears the funeral bells tolling, and he ends up throwing up in front of his mom.
  • Dr. Urbino starts hanging out with Fermina's dad Lorenzo a lot. Lorenzo teaches the doctor how to play chess. Still, Fermina continues to rebuff his advances.
  • Dr. Urbino starts to make some progress when he rescues Fermina and her cousin from a crowd and gives them a ride home in his carriage. He flirts with the cousin, and the next day receives a letter from his dream girl saying that he may speak to her father. Soon enough, he and Fermina are engaged to be married.
  • After the wedding, Dr. Urbino takes it slowly with Fermina. They get to know each other for a few days on the honeymoon before he gives her an "anatomy lesson," if you know what we mean.
  • The couple spends two years in Europe and then returns home expecting their first child.
  • Dr. Urbino has a conversation with Florentino without ever suspecting that Florentino is in love with his wife.
  • When they return from Europe, Dr. Urbino and Fermina move in with his mom and sisters. They make life miserable for his wife, and he won't stick up for her. Their marriage starts to suffer.
  • Dr. Urbino has to cover up a scandal when it is revealed that Fermina's father hasn't exactly been earning his money in a legal way. He sends Lorenzo packing to his native country.
  • In an attempt to save their marriage, Dr. Urbino and Fermina go back to Europe, where they're much happier. They return when he mother dies.
  • Dr. Urbino builds Fermina a new house in a posh neighborhood, sells the family mansion, and sends his sisters to live in a convent.
  • The doctor is a picky eater, and refuses to help out around the house. He learns his lesson when Fermina makes him take over the domestic affairs for one day.
  • Dr. Urbino and his wife are happy as two peas in a pod.
  • The good doctor sponsors a bunch of civic projects to ring in the new century, including the establishment of a new airmail system via hot air balloon. He takes his wife with him on the inaugural ride.
  • Dr. Urbino meets a woman at the hospital and begins having an affair with her. His wife finds out about it by smelling the scent of another woman on his clothes.
  • Fermina goes to live with her cousin, and two years pass before Dr. Urbino goes out to the ranch to beg her to come home.
  • The next we hear of Dr. Urbino, he's dead. Fermina is mad at him for dying, but eventually senses his constant presence as she goes about her days and is comforted. When Fermina leaves the city on the riverboat cruise with Florentino, she has a vision of her husband saying farewell to her. When she returns to the city, he welcomes her back.