LITERATURE: Love in the Time of Cholera – Birds = Begonias

As always, even as I read ahead my mind goes back to something read before; especially with Marquez.  After a long time of watching from afar, Florentino Ariza finally takes a stand and walks up to the object of his love, Fermina Daza.  As usual, she is seated in her yard under the almond trees, embroidering with Aunt Escolastica (Lord, I love that name!) and he takes advantage of a moment when Auntie E goes into the house.  He receives permission from Fermina to deliver to her a letter he has written, but he must wait for a sign (sigh, yes, the games begin).  At last, he is allowed to approach when once again she is left alone:

He took the letter out of his inside jacket pocket and held it before the eyes of the troubled embroiderer, who had still not dared to look at him.  She saw the blue envelope trembling in a hand petrified with terror, and she raised the embroidery frame so he could put the letter on it, for she could not admit that she had noticed the trembling of his fingers.  Then it happened:  A bird shook himself among the leaves of the almond trees, and his droppings fell right on the embroidery.  (p. 61)

I have a feeling, especially after the parrot business of the first chapter, that birds in this story are the begonias of 100 Years of Solitude.  Another reference to birds is what the ladies of the evening are called in the house where Florentino often stays.  But what will they represent?

Obviously, not the good sh.. of the blue bird of happiness, the droppings on the embroidery which marks the first reaching of Fermina towards Florentino has some significance.  When we introduce ourselves to each other, we offer a part of ourselves that is now open to the other.  The physical touching that the ruined embroidery now forces (she hides it behind her in embarrassment) allows a more intimate closeness.  But does the bit of bird doo on the piece signify what will come of the meeting?  Their future?

And what was she embroidering?  Wouldn’t you love to see that image?

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