LITERATURE: Love in the Time of Cholera – Magical Realism

Ah, Marquez does not disappoint:  Soon after she has spurned her long-time love, Fermina Daza comes into contact with Dr. Juvenal Urbino whom she will eventually wed.  But the games must be played.  They meet on a professional call he makes to her home when she is taken ill.  He becomes infatuated with her as did that loser, Florentino Ariza, but things do not go well.  She will not see him, and he sends her letters and small gifts that are unacknowledged by the proud Fermina who while curious, is angry.  Then this:

This conviction became even more bitter after the fear caused by the black doll that was sent to her without any letter, but whose origin seemed easy enough to imagine:  only Dr. Juvenal Urbino could have sent it.  It had been bought in Martinique, according to the original tag, and it was dressed in an exquisite gown, its hair rippled with gold threads and it closed its eyes when it was laid down.  It seemed so charming to Fermina Daza that she overcame her scruples and laid it on her pillow during the day and grew accustomed to sleeping with it at night.  After a time, however, she discovered when she awoke from an exhusting dream that the doll was growing:  the original exquisite dress she had arrived in was up above her thighs, and her shoes had burst from the pressure of her feet.  Fermina Daza had heard of African spells, but none as frightening as this.  (p. 125)

It turns out that Dr. Urbino had not sent the doll, but what does this mean?  I love the way that Marquez sneaks something like this into what heretofore had been pretty straight story.  And, I know it will come up again somewhere in the story and its symbolism will be made clear.  It is the rising up to the heavens of Remedios the Beauty while folding sheets.

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