We first encounter Fermina by way of an introduction to her husband, Dr. Urbino. It's she who buys the parrot who is responsible for the good doctor's death.
Fermina takes extremely good care of her husband now that they're old – she bathes and dresses him like a child in preparation for a party.
When Dr. Urbino falls out of the mango tree, Fermina manages to say goodbye to him before he dies.
Fermina takes charge of the wake and plans the funeral, even though she's devastated by her husband's death. When she says goodbye to her guests, Florentino confronts her and pledges his undying love. Fermina is enraged – she orders Florentino to leave.
Backtrack to fifty years ago when Fermina is just thirteen: She lives with her father and her aunt, who chaperones her constantly. Fermina notices that Florentino sits in the park to watch her walk to school every day.
Fermina receives a letter from Florentino, but doesn't know how to respond. When Florentino reprimands her, she finally sends a response via her aunt. Thus begins a correspondence between the two lovesick teens.
Fermina agrees to Florentino's written proposal of marriage, provided he never makes her eat eggplant. They agree to keep the engagement a secret for two years.
One day Fermina gets caught writing a love letter to Florentino when she's supposed to be taking notes in class. When her dad finds out, Fermina is worse than grounded. Not only is she expelled from the school, but her father also banishes her aunt and takes Fermina on a terrifying journey to the country.
As a farewell, Fermina cuts of her braid and sends it to Florentino.
Unbeknownst to her father, Fermina stays in touch with Florentino via telegram while in the country. She becomes close with her cousin Hildebranda and is happy.
When Fermina and her father finally return to the city three months later, her father puts her in charge of running the house and gives her the keys.
Fermina goes to the market to buy things for her married life with Florentino. When Florentino approaches her in a shady part of town and tells her, "This is not the place for a crowned goddess," she falls instantly out of love with him (2.139).
Fermina returns all of Florentino's letters and makes him return hers.
Fermina begins to receive some unwanted attention from a young Doctor Urbino. She ignores his letters, despite her father's attempts to encourage the relationship.
Fermina even rejects an offer from the Sister Superior of her old school to reinstate her if she accepts Dr. Urbino's suit.
Hildebranda comes to visit Fermina and tries to encourage her cousin get out more. The two girls get dressed up in vintage clothes to get their picture taken by a famous photographer.
Dr. Urbino rescues the girls from a crowd and gives them a ride home in his carriage. Hildebranda flirts with him, but Fermina is uncomfortable.
Fermina fights with Hildebranda about the doctor, but, after dreaming about him that night, writes a letter to him saying he may speak to her father.
Fermina and her new husband go to Europe for their honeymoon. When they return two years later, she's six months pregnant.
The narrative is getting ahead of itself again, though – let's talk about the wedding. Fermina is terrified at the idea of having sex, which she considers a "violation" (3.149). The boat leaves a night early, however, and Fermina has the excuse of seasickness to put off the inevitable.
The couple gets to know each other on the boat, so by the time Fermina loses her virginity to Dr. Urbino, she's feeling a lot more comfortable.
Fermina becomes more sophisticated in Europe and returns home a cultivated lady.
She gives birth to her first child, whom she names after Dr. Urbino's father.
Fermina doesn't really love her husband, but she's happy with the material comfort he provides her. That is, until they come back home and move in with his mom and two unmarried sisters. Living with her in-laws starts to put a strain on her relationship with her husband.
Fermina's father gets busted for some illegal business dealings, but Dr. Urbino manages to cover up the scandal by sending him back to his native country.
Fermina catches a glimpse of Florentino, sitting in the park outside her old house, and feels grief-stricken. For the first time she thinks she may have been happier with her first boyfriend, and this prompts her to reconcile with her husband.
In an attempt to repair their relationship, Fermina and Dr. Urbino decide to go back to Europe. This is the second of many honeymoons the couple will spend abroad.
Two years into their second European vacation, the couple receives news Dr. Urbino's mother's death. They hurry home, where it becomes obvious that Fermina is pregnant again.
Dr. Urbino builds a new home in an up-and-coming neighborhood to make his wife happy. He sells the old family mansion and sends his sisters off to live in a convent.
They name their new baby girl Ofelia.
Fermina is very happy in her marriage at this point, but she considers herself to be a deluxe servant to her husband. She has him take over the household duties on her birthday to prove to him how difficult managing domestic affairs can be.
Fermina sells her father's old house because it reminds her of the pain of her adolescence.
Fermina accompanies her husband on a balloon ride to celebrate the turn of the century and deliver the first airmail to her hometown in the northeast. She throws supplies to impoverished children below and sees cities abandoned due to cholera and banana plantations strewn with massacred bodies.
Fermina is prevented from visiting her hometown due to an outbreak of cholera. The party is forced to return by boat because the balloon won't take off again.
While in the region of her birth, Fermina has memories concerning her mother of events that happened before she had been born.
Fermina unwittingly encourages Florentino when she hesitates to greet him at an important official event.
Fermina comes to suspect her husband is having an affair, because she can smell a strange scent on his clothes. She confronts her husband about it, and he confesses. Fermina is offended by two things: that Dr. Urbino told his confessor the truth before he told her, and that his lover was a woman of mixed black and white descent. She goes to live with her cousin in the country.
Once again, Fermina's trip to the country reveals plenty of dead bodies, killed by yet another cholera epidemic.
Fermina makes a trip to the place where "the Liberator," one of the founders of the nation, has died. She is depressed by the inglorious conditions of his death and by other changes that have occurred in the village.
When Fermina sees her cousin Hildebranda, she realizes they've both gotten old.
After two years, Dr. Urbino finally goes to the country to make up with Fermina.
Back in town, Fermina and her husband run into Florentino at the movie theater.
OK, now we're caught up with where we left off at the end of Chapter 1. Fermina writes Florentino an angry letter.
Fermina decides to burn all of her husband's possessions in a failed attempt to forget him and ease her pain.
Fermina starts to think of Florentino as an annoying phantom who won't leave her alone.
Backtrack to a short time after Fermina's reunion with her husband. Hildebranda visits with her eldest son and talks of Florentino with pity. This allows Fermina to see him with more compassion the night she runs into him at the movies.
The night of her husband's wake, Fermina interprets Florentino's presence as an act of "forgiving and forgetting" (6.10). Then his lovesick speech screws it all up.
Fermina greets Florentino at the memorial mass for her husband, given on the one-year anniversary of his death.
She has read all of the letters Florentino has sent her in the past year with growing interest and has started saving them.
Fermina feels she understands her husband better now than when he was alive. She feels he is constantly present with her, and that sometimes he even appears to her in flesh and blood.
After burning her husband's possessions, Fermina decides to burn her own. She cuts back the fateful mango tree and gets rid of the rascally parrot. She feels cleansed.
In the months following her husband's funeral, Fermina enjoys the company of her son's family, her daughter, and her best friend Lucrecia.
Fermina defends Florentino against insinuations by Lucrecia that he seduces young boys.
Fermina greets Florentino in her house and arranges to have tea with him in a few days.
After a rocky start, Florentino starts visiting Fermina every Tuesday, and the two become friends. She even responds to one of his letters when he's in bed with an injury and unable to visit.
Fermina is shocked and saddened by a story of an elderly couple that is murdered by a boatman while on vacation. The two had been secret lovers.
A local tabloid angers Fermina by publishing a false story about an affair between Lucrecia and Dr. Urbino and a true story about her father's illegal business activity.
Fermina is grateful to Florentino for writing a letter to the editor in her defense.
Fermina's daughter Ofelia hears about the budding relationship between her mother and Florentino and comes to the city to put a stop to it. Fermina angrily kicks her daughter out of the house.
Fermina agrees to go on a river cruise with Florentino.
While on the ship, Fermina has a vision of her husband tipping his hat in a farewell gesture. She starts to warm up to Florentino's advances, even though the sad story about the murdered elderly couple bothers her from time to time.
Fermina suffers from an earache and eventually loses her hearing in one ear.
Fermina brings a bottle of liquor to one of her late-night rendezvous with Florentino, and they decide to try to make love for the first time. She doesn't believe Florentino when he says he's a virgin, but she thinks it's cute that he's lying to her about it. When Florentino isn't able to have sex, Fermina teases him about it.
The next morning, Florentino returns and makes hurried, clumsy love to her. It is decidedly not good for Fermina.
When the ship reaches its last stop, and takes on new passengers, Fermina is embarrassed to see several people she knows. She gets Florentino to convince the Captain to declare a state of emergency and fly the yellow cholera flag on board. They send the passengers on another boat and stop to pick up the Captain's girlfriend.
The passengers enjoy having the boat to themselves and party all the way down the river. One night Fermina gets drunk and makes sweet, sweet love to Florentino.
The next morning, Fermina has a hangover, and she has a vision of her husband welcoming her back to the city. She realizes that going home will feel like dying.
When Florentino suggests that they keep sailing up and down the river, Fermina looks at the Captain and sees him as "their destiny" (6.233).