Love in the Time of Cholera: Chapter 1 Tasks

Chapter One Tasks

1.       Consider the significance of Pentecost in this chapter by researching it in the book of Acts in the King James Bible. How might we link aspects of the Pentecost story with the action and preoccupations of the first chapter – consider, for example, the silver anniversary – and how might we look at details from the Pentecost story as a binary opposition?

Pentecost– day the holy spirit descends on the apostles and the Virgin Mary and allows them to speak every language 

silver anniversary–25 yrs of marriage (Urbino + Fermina)

opposition of celebrations : one celebration is religious, magical, and a celebration of communication — another is a celebration of a marriage –marriages we see in the book  no communication and perhaps no love 

the parrot has the power to “speak” and that is what will cause Urbino’s death

pentecost corresponds with death of Jeremiah de St Amour–name is symbolic–death of love? foreshadowing?

binary opposition of a public, colorful celebration — and a day where two friends will die, and also a period of death related to cholera


2.       Consider the significance of climate and geography in this chapter.

Located close to equator–tropical climate– symbolic of passion?

Takes place in a port city close to the ocean–trade and commercial exchange takes place — and also cultural exchange 

Symbolism of water and the ocean — baptism?

Hot climate — increases the cholera epidemic

“Once the stormy years of his early struggles were over…”

“The sky had begun to threaten very early in the day and the weather was cloudy and cool, but there was no chance of rain before noon.”

“In winter sudden devastating downpours flooded the latrines and turned the streets into sickening bogs. In summer an invisible dust as harsh as red-hot chalk was blown into even the bestprotected corners of the imagination by mad winds that took the roofs off the houses and carried away children through the air.” power of nature/power of love/uncontrollable/unpredictability

“At nightfall, at the oppressive moment of transition, a storm of carnivorous mosquitoes rose out of the swamps, and a tender breath of human shit, warm and sad, stirred the certainty of death in the depths of one’s soul.”

“The downpour ended as suddenly as it had begun, and the sun began to shine in a cloudless sky, but the storm had been so violent that several trees were uprooted and the overflowing stream had turned the patio into a swamp. The greatest disaster had occurred in the kitchen.”

“She realized the danger that very morning when she went to High Mass and was horrified by the humidity and saw that the sky was heavy and low and that one could not see to the ocean’s horizon. Despite these ominous signs, the Director of the Astronomical Observatory, whom she met at Mass, reminded her that in all the troubled history of the city, even during the crudest winters, it had never rained on Pentecost. Still, when the clocks struck twelve and many of the guests were already having an aperitif outdoors, a single crash of thunder made the earth tremble, and a turbulent wind from the sea knocked over the tables and blew down the canopies, and the sky collapsed in a catastrophic downpour.”

“As soon as the weather cleared they opened the windows, and the house was cooled by air that had been purified by the sulfurous storm.”

3.       Make a list of binary oppositions above and consider how each of them is represented in the first chapter.

Darkness– Luminous/light

Light — Heavy

Rest– suffering

“angel condemned”

unrequited love — hapless love

young — old

storm — sun/calm

life/miracles — death

purification — decay



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