Critical Evaluation

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Gabriel García Márquez is one of the most important Latin American writers of the second half of the twentieth century. His novels and stories are distinguished by a vivacity of style that clearly sets them apart from the pessimism often associated with early twentieth century Western literature, yet his characters’ acute sensitivity to the passage of time clearly shows the influence of one of the greatest twentieth century American writers, William Faulkner.

García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera can, in fact, be viewed as a novel both of tradition and of its own time. It offers a traditional love story focusing on two lovers who overcome many obstacles before they are united. Beyond that, however, the novel addresses the question of time and the related fear of death in a universe in which God’s existence no longer seems assured. Love in the Time of Cholera represents the author’s response to the notion that death is inescapable and final. García Márquez uses a framed plot, the interweaving narratives of Florentino and Fermina, and symbolism to assert that passionate love can transcend time and death.

The frame story emphasizes the seeming inescapability of death. García Márquez begins the novel with the death of Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, who has committed suicide at the age of sixty because he can no longer fully enjoy human passion. García Márquez next presents the death of Dr. Juvenal Urbino, who proclaims his passion for Fermina at the moment of his death. After that, the narrative moves back in time to the stories of Florentino and Fermina. Only toward the end of the novel does García Márquez return to the deaths of Saint-Amour and Urbino, both of which in turn remind the now-elderly Florentino of his own inescapable death. With this frame, García Márquez establishes a tension between death and love and suggests that there is no escape from death.

Throughout the novel, constant references to cholera remind the characters as well as the reader of death. Regardless of Urbino’s efforts to find a cure for cholera, the disease remains...

(The entire section is 865 words.)