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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
The time of the novel is roughly between 1840 and 1910. The main setting of the action is a colonial port city in the Caribbean, presumably Columbia, named only the city of the Viceroys throughout the novel. At one point, Fermina Daza travels with her father to her motherís family in Valledupar, where they stay for three years while her father hopes she will forget her love for Florentino Ariza. Also, Fermina Daza and Dr. Juvenal Urbino spend a three-year honeymoon in Europe and, later, another two years; however, these latter two locations are only alluded to. Another brief setting is the Magdelena River, navigated by riverboats.
Dr. Juvenal Urbino del Calle - the son of an aristocratic family who studies medicine in Europe and brings back all the newest science to his home in the Caribbean. Although devoted to his wife, he has a four-month affair, and then repents heartily. He likes to be served with precision in his home. He is a demanding man who likes to be served with precision, a passionate chess player, and a friend who enjoys music.
Fermina Daza - a sensible woman from a peasant family whose mother dies before she is ten and whose father decides to make a lady out of her. She runs an elegant and graceful house, enters her husbandís social circle with great command and self- possession, and becomes the most prominent socialite in her city. She likes to smoke secretly, collect objects of beauty and interest, and raise animals, reptiles, and birds of all sorts (though the last is thwarted by her husbandís aversion to animals.)
Florentino Ariza - a non-sensible romantic. He falls in love with a girl at first glance and spends three years sending her sentimental letters and being a martyr to love. When he is jilted by her, he waits over fifty years for her husband to die so he can court her again. While he is waiting, he has innumerable sexual affairs.