1. Why does García Márquez use similar terms to describe the
effects of love and cholera?
2. Plagues figure prominently in many of García Márquez's
novels. What literal and metaphoric functions does the cholera
plague serve in this novel? What light does it shed on Latin
American society of the nineteenth century? How does it change its
characters' attitudes toward life? How are the symptoms of love
equated in the novel with the symptoms of cholera?
3. What does the conflict between Dr. Juvenal Urbino and
Florentino Ariza reveal about the customs of Europe and the ways of
Caribbean life? How is Fermina Daza torn between the two?
4. Dr. Urbino reads only what is considered fine literature,
while Fermina Daza immerses herself in contemporary romances or
soap operas. What does this reveal about the author's attitude
toward the distinction between "high" and "low" literature. Does
his story line and style remind you more of a soap opera or a
5. After rejecting Florentino's declaration of love following
her husband's funeral, why is Fermina eventually won over by
6. Why does a change in Florentino's writing style make Fermina
more receptive to him?
7. What does Florentino mean when he tells Fermina, before they
make love for the first time, "I've remained a virgin for you" (p.
8. Why does Florentino tell each of his lovers that she is the
only one he has had?
9. What does Florentino's uncle mean when he says, "without
river navigation there is no love" (p. 168)?
10. Do Fermina and Dr. Urbino succeed at "inventing true love"
11. Set against the backdrop of recurring civil wars and cholera
epidemics, the novel explores death and decay, as well as love. How
does Dr. Urbino's refusal to grow old gracefully affect the other
two characters? What does it say about fulfillment and beauty in
their society? Does the fear of aging or death change Florentino
Ariza's feelings toward Fermina Daza?
12. Compare the suicide of Jeremiah de Saint-Amour at the
beginning of the book with that of Florentino's former lover,
América Vicuña at the end. How do their motives differ? Why does
the author frame the book with these two events?
13. Why is Leona Cassiani "the true woman in [Florentino's] life
although neither of them ever knew it and they never made love" (p.
14. When Tránsito Ariza tells Florentino he looks as if he were
going to a funeral when he is going to visit Fermina, why does he
respond by saying, "It's almost the same thing" (p. 65)? (Used by
permission of Penguin Books.)