Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 813
Florentino Ariza (flohr-ehn-TEE-noh ah-REE-sah), a man completely devoted to romantic passion. He is the illegitimate son of a philandering father and a resourceful single mother. While still an adolescent, he falls madly in love with Fermina Daza. When she rejects him after the two have made plans to marry, he sets out on a solitary quest to win back Fermina. He even writes and publishes a book, Lover’s Companion, in celebration of his undying love for Fermina. He tries to improve his social status by quitting his job as a telegraph messenger and going to work for his uncle and the Riverboat Company of the Caribbean. He eventually becomes president of the company. He is consumed by his passionate love for Fermina. At times, because of this passion, he becomes physically sick; at other times, he seems driven nearly to madness, particularly when she rejects him and he engages in sexual affairs to try to forget his love for her. Everything Florentino does must be understood in terms of his love for Fermina. His determination to win her back and consummate their love is fraught with pitfalls, including his own physical decrepitude (he becomes bald, breaks his leg, and is left lame) and the violent deaths of two of his former mistresses. Ultimately, he is rewarded for his persistent love.
Fermina Daza (fehr-MEE-nah DAH-zah), the daughter of a mule dealer, a strong-willed woman who submits neither to her father’s domination nor to Florentino’s early attempts to make her his wife. Although she rejects Florentino, she remains in love with him for the more than fifty years that she is married to Dr. Juvenal Urbino, whom she marries because he is of a higher social class. In fact, she judges her husband in comparison with Florentino, finding Urbino passionless and even unmanly. She spends the night after her husband dies thinking not of him but of Florentino. Clearly, she has always loved Florentino; in fact, she is consumed by her love for Florentino, though she does not fully realize this until the final chapter of the novel.
Dr. Juvenal Urbino
Dr. Juvenal Urbino (HEW-vehn-ahl ewr-BEE-noh), a prominent doctor who studied in Paris and has devoted his life to fighting cholera. Although he has a passion for finding a cure for cholera, he is clearly passionless in human relationships. Considering that his marriage with Fermina is something of a failure, one might conclude that he has misdirected his passion for most of his life. He is redeemed from this shortcoming during his dying moments, when he finally confesses his deep love for his wife.
Jeremiah de Saint-Amour
Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, a seemingly minor character who introduces the theme of unrequited love. Like Florentino, this Caribbean refugee has lived his life for love. Although he is Dr. Urbino’s most sympathetic chess companion (Dr. Urbino considers him a friend), he is also an escaped fugitive who at one time ate human flesh. Saint-Amour therefore also introduces the conflict between appearance and reality. He commits suicide in the first chapter because he loved life and his secret Haitian mistress with such passion that he thought he could not survive old age and decay.
Lotario Thugat (loh-TAHR-ee-oh TEW-gaht), Florentino’s employer at the telegraph office and also, more significantly, the one who introduces Florentino into the world of earthly passion by taking him to houses of prostitution.
Rosalba (rohs-AHL-bah), possibly the name of the woman who takes Florentino’s virginity and fully initiates him into the world of earthly passion. From his brief experience with Rosalba, Florentino learns that sexual passion can temporarily replace the love he feels for Fermina.
América Vicuña (ah-MEHR-ee-kah vee-KEWN -yah), a...
(The entire section contains 1019 words.)
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