As the novel reaches its concluding stages, critics say the mood is “paradoxically apocalyptic” (Telgen 236). It reveals the conflict ahead. As Fermina and Florentiono are taking their boat trip together, he tells the captain to fly the yellow flag symbolizing cholera so that no passengers will get on or off. The captain does so however admonishes Florentino by saying that the surrounding towns are almost stripped bare of wood. As if predestined, they get stuck in the water and are questioned by the police as to the cholera on board.
Here, they finally realize that barriers still exist in their love and they cannot simply sail off with the privacy that they wished for. It is paradoxical because this is the moment Florentino has been waiting for all his life and the current situation inhibits him from living in that dream. The theme that love knows no boundaries is still seen here as Florentino takes drastic measures to retain privacy for himself and Fermina. However, he must come to the realization that navigating the rivers forever concealed behind a yellow cholera flag is no solution.
The point of view and structure of the novel, two things that contribute to helping the reader identify the theme of the piece, are masterfully intertwined with what critics term the “Garcimarquesian” voice (Ryan 217). It is told from a limited omniscient point of view, hence, the existence of one narrator through multiple flashbacks, and Marquez may sometimes “withhold omniscient insight from his characters” (Telgen 228). This is especially true in the latter part of the book when Fermina goes away and Florentino is alone to contemplate why she has suddenly left.
The reader knows but it is impossible for the characters to have that same knowledge. The structure of the novel, divided into three main books, is characterized by a parallel series of boat rides (229). Each character seems to leave individually at some point and make vows to himself or herself that will change the outcome of the novel, and, therefore, the theme. The first boat ride, taken by Florentino, is an attempt to forget about Fermina. However, it proves fruitless as he “resolves to love Fermina for the rest of his life” (225). The second boat ride, taken by Fermina, is the beginning of a new life as she is now married to Dr.
Urbino; she resolves to love her husband with mind and heart. The third boat ride occurs as a consummation of their own love and symbolizes the union of two elderly people who come together despite societal stereotypes. It accurately displays an elderly person’s wishes as he/she can continue to receive emotional fulfillment to the end. Themes of continuous love and how true love can triumph are apparent while tracing the development of love through the maturation of the characters; this theme is again reflected in the idea of parallel boat rides.
The “Garcimarquesian” voice (Ryan 217) comes about because of Marqeuz’s incredible mastery of language and his special style known as magical realism. Although not as apparent in Love in the Time of Cholera as in his other works, such as 100 Years of Solitude, magic realism is defined by the critics as something that “moves when nothing else does. It is what a stage director looks for when instructs a performer to keep the hands or feet still; to bind them, so that the features of the shoulders can make a more expressive performance. Garcia Marquez’s art is a mighty transfiguration of these bound movements” (Telgen 237).
It has a simplicity that is so complex and expressive. The reader can sense each movement and make distinctions among all the actions. Another more concrete definition is that magical realism is “a genre of fiction which blends mysterious, supernatural, and even surreal events with the hard political and social realities of life” (Telgen 223). It juxtaposes two opposites, reality and utopia, so well that the characters seem engulfed in their own world and the reader is taken in by that. Love in the Time of Cholera is based more on “social realism” which focuses on social problems and the hardships of everyday life (Coover 253).
More “social detail” is present with “less mysticism” as Marquez sets this novel in a city plagued by cholera. The sharp class divisions are shown by the detail with which certain events are described. On Dr. Urbino’s visit to the slave quarters upon the request of a late friend, Dr. Urbino’s horse drawn carriage was distinguishable from the few still left in the city because the “patent leather roof was always kept polished”, and it “had fittings of bronze that would not be corroded by salt,” and “wheels and poles painted red with gilt trimming like gala nights at the Opera” (Marquez 12).
Also, the novel is primarily focused on “urban society,” as can be inferred from the presence of a busy ship port, and active elite society (Telgen 229). This setting contributes to the theme in making the connection that the symptoms of love and cholera are the same (224). Love, like cholera during epidemic times, leaves its mark, especially in the case of Florentino, who waited fifty one years. The continuous love and faithfulness expressed by him is admirable. Love in the Time of Cholera successfully intertwines several stylistic devices to create a novel with deep meaning.
The age old theme of love knowing no boundaries is clearly demonstrated by Marquez’s blend of “legend and history in ways that make the legends seems truer than truth” (Ryan 218). His writings are “mystical and magical” and accurately portray the transient nature of life, particularly recognizable as the main characters continue to age and mature (218). The novel stresses that nothing is everlasting and love never remains because people change, but rather remains because it has changed with the time that has changed the people.
Love, sometimes portrayed as ephemeral, has managed to become permanent in the life of Florentino Ariza as he waited fifty one years, nine months, and four days to be with the one he loves.
Works Cited Beetz, Kirk. “Love in the Time of Cholera. ” Beacham’s Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction. Vol. 5. Florida: Beacham, 1996. 14 vols. Coover, Robert. “The Gossip on the Wall. ” New York Times Book Review. Rpt. In “Gabriel Marquez. ” Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon Gunton. Vol 15. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980. 78 vols. 252-255 .
Marquez, Gabriel G. Love in the Time of Cholera. Trans. Edith Grossman. New York: Alfred A. Knopf,Inc. , 1988. Ryan, Bryan. “Gabriel Garcia Marquez. ” Hispanic Writers. Vol. 2. London: Gale, 1991. 2 vols. Telgen, Diane. “Love in the Time of Cholera. ” Novels for Students. Vol 1. Detroit: Gale, 1997. 13 vols. 1 Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Social Theory section.