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 entire section is 813 words.)