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MonkeyNotes-Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

Chapter 1

Summary

Dr. Juvenal Urbino is always reminded of "the fate of unrequited love" when he smells bitter almonds. He has been called on an urgent case to see the Antillean refugee Jeremiah de Saint-Amour. Amour is a disabled war veteran who became a photographer of children. He and Urbino play chess together. Amour has killed himself by taking cyanide. Dr. Urbino finds the body and beside it, the body of Amourís dog and Amourís crutches. The dawn is visible through the window of his room. The room had been his friendís photography laboratory as well as his room. All the light is shut out except for the one open window. Even though the air from the open window had purified the air in the room, "there still remained for the one who could identify it the dying embers of hapless love in the bitter almonds." Dr. Urbino had often thought the room with its heavy disorder would be a bad place to die in a state of grace. Later, however, he decided that the disorder was part of Divine Providence (the divine ordering of the world).

A police inspector comes in along with a young medical student. They are the ones who had opened the window and covered the body. They greet Dr. Urbino with words of condolence because everyone knows he was friends with Jeremiah de Saint-Amour. Dr. Urbino is an eminent teacher. He shakes hands with both men, just as he has always shaken hands with every one of his students before class every day. He teaches general clinical medicine. Urbino next pulls the blanket back slowly "with sacramental circumspection." The body is naked, "stiff and twisted." His friend looks very old. His eyes are open. Because he had used crutches, the muscles of his upper body are over-developed, but his legs look pitifully thin. Dr. Juvenal Urbino studies with body with an aching heart. He says, "Damn fool. The worst was over." Then he covers the body again.


Dr. Urbino just celebrated his eightieth birthday last year. They had given him a three-day jubilee. He still refuses to retire even though he is losing his hearing in his right ear and has to use a cane when he walks. He dresses in very fine clothes: a linen suit, a gold watch chain across his vest, a Pasteur beard, and his white hair combed into a neat part. His immaculate clothing reflects his character. He compensates for his loss of short-term memory by writing notes to himself, but they are stuffed into the disorder of his pockets. He is the cityís oldest and most illustrious doctor and its most fastidious man. "Still, his too obvious display of learning and the disingenuous manner in which he used the power of his name had won him less affection than he deserved."

He gives precise instructions to the inspector and intern. The body does not need autopsy since itís obvious that it was a suicide. The intern is disappointed because he had wanted to study the effects of gold cyanide on the body. Dr. Juvenal Urbino realizes this intern is from the country, new to the city. He consoles the intern by telling him there will be another person driven mad by love who will give him a chance to study. It occurs to the doctor that of all the suicides he has seen, this is the first that used cyanide when the suicide hadnít been caused by love. He tells the intern that when he does find one, he should notice that the corpses almost always have crystals in their heart.

He tells the inspector to get around all the rules and arrange it so his friend could be buried that afternoon. He tells him he will speak to the mayor. He is sure that the inspector will find plenty of money in Jeremiah de Saint-Amourís room to cover the expenses of the funeral. If he doesnít, the doctor assures him that he will pay for the funeral. He then instructs the inspector to report to the press that his friend had died of natural causes. He adds that he will speak to the governor if necessary. The inspector is amazed at Dr. Urbinoís willingness to skip over the rules when, usually, his sense of civic duty exasperates those around him. The inspector says, "I understand the man was a saint." Dr. Urbino says, "Something even rarer. An ascetic saint. But those are matters for God to decide."

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