Love in the Time of Cholera
Literature and Writing Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
All that interested him was that the letter, in and of itself, gave him the opportunity, and even recognized his right, to respond. Even more: it demanded that he respond. (6.38)
The insulting letter that Florentino receives from Fermina doesn't bother him. The content of the letter isn't that significant – the important thing is that the presence of the letter itself gives Florentino the opportunity to respond and strike up a dialogue with the object of his affection. So the letter sort of serves as a symbol that communicates more to Florentino than the actual words it contains.
It was a six-page letter, unlike any he had ever written before. It did not have the tone, or the style, or the rhetorical air of his early years of love, and his argument was so rational and measured that the scent of a gardenia would have been out of place. In a certain sense it was his closest approximation to the business letters he had never been able to write. (6.45)
The first letter that Florentino sends to Fermina is perhaps the most important expression of his love in the history of their relationship, and yet it has none of the flowery, lyrical style of all of his previous writings of any sort, which had always had the tone of a love letter. This letter is the beginning of a "rational" and "measured" explanation of why Fermina should be with Florentino. You almost expect it to contain a flow chart.
"After all, letters belong to the person who write them. Don't you agree?"
He made a bold move.
"I do," he said. "That is why they are the first things returned when an affair is ended." (6.86)
Because so much of the novel is based around letter-writing, the etiquette of sending and receiving letters becomes very significant. Even though Fermina doesn't respond to Florentino's letters, the fact that she keeps them instead of returning them sends a message. Here, Florentino implies that, because she has not returned their letters, they are embroiled in some sort of "affair."