Love in the Time of Cholera
Old Age Theme
One significant aspect of this supposed "romance" is that the characters age. In fact, a good portion of the plot of Love in the Time of Cholera takes place while the characters are in their seventies. The fact that García Márquez follows these characters throughout the span of their lives allows us to see the ways that their philosophies, social positions, and relationships change.
Following these characters through the lives also allows us to compare the way old age is viewed in the setting of the novel and the way we think of it today. Such comparisons make us aware that the way we think about age is partially socially constructed – a man in his fifties is considered old in the novel, whereas in our time and place he'd be considered middle-aged. Furthermore, an idea proposed by one of the characters about how we should treat the aged – by separating them from younger people so that they don't get in the way of social progress – reflects a social philosophy popular at the time but darkly ominous in the light of historical events that would happen later, like the Holocaust.
Questions About Old Age
- Given the ways in which men and women age in the novel, and the roles assigned to them as they do so, would you rather be a man or a woman in Love in the Time of Cholera? Tell us the reasons for your choice.
- Why would a fifty-year-old man be considered old in the setting of Love in the Time of Cholera and middle-aged today?
- Why does Dr. Urbino Daza think it would be a good idea to separate elderly people from the rest of society? Why might it not be a good idea?
Chew on This
For much of his life, Florentino is able to ignore the passage of time and his own aging by constantly focusing on the love affair he carried on when he was a teenager. His denial of aging is symbolic of his denial of all of the real obstacles that stand between him and his beloved.
In their eternal voyage up and down the Magdalena River, Florentino and Fermina unwittingly enact the idea of social segregation for the elderly envisioned by Fermina's son, Dr. Urbino Daza.