Fiction Analysis: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

You’ll have to excuse me on this one. I’m not sure exactly where this post will go. I want to look at a quote from a book and break down the reasons why I like it/dislike it. I could be words, imagery, or something else entirely. Because of that, I’ll be writing  based on my instinctual impressions and less on analysis. I haven’t prepared in advance and will try to voice exactly what I felt about the passage. At times I’ll fail to voice why but hopefully in time I’ll get better. So without delay, here I go.

“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

I remember reading this for the first time. It wasn’t a sort of quote that seeped its way in, it was more of a punch in the face. It voiced an opinion I held dearly, but I was never able to word it exactly right. They are the exact words to my belief a person will have to endure multiple forced changes in their life. Some will be intentional, other will not be, but all will happen and it’s because of life that we do.

The first thing that strikes me about this quote is the imagery. In the way I’m thinking about it there’s two scenes: a traditional birth, and one where a woman is giving birth to herself. The first scene is normal but sets up for the second scene. A woman laying on a delivery bed. Her legs propped up. Except there are no doctors. She starts to push but what comes out isn’t a child but a spitting image of herself. The process is like a snake shedding its skin even even slower than that. There is pain. Pain that I, as a male can’t even fathom bearing but I understand it’s supposed to be there. She is sweat covered but determined. Her screams fill a quiet night as she completes the labor of herself. All that’s left on the delivery bed is a husk of flesh.

That’s the scene I pictured while reading those words. I don’t think that you would feel any differently about the words if you pictured my scene, but that’s where my mind went initially. To me it’s a profound thought. Yeah, of course a person must birth themselves repeatedly to adapt to hardship(or a lack there of) but the use of the word “birth” I feel is deliberate. It implies all the processes of birth but for every time you change. It’d be a slow painful but potentially rewarding endeavor.

The next interesting thing I see is with the first few words. “He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction…”Now this could be me overthinking/over-analyzing but it seems to represent a separation between a person and their convictions. If the idea is a conviction why would they allow themselves to be swayed? If it is a conviction you’d believe so fully that you wouldn’t need to be swayed. I really think it represents a sort of duality between one’s convictions and one’s actions. It didn’t need to be explicitly stated, I think the readers was left to draw a similar conclusion. Marquez would be able to continue with his work whether we got it or not without any major detraction from the novel.

The last note is about how “life” is used here. Life is acting on the subject. Life is obliging people to do something. This, in reality, couldn’t be because life is a sort of non-active bystander; it simply is or it isn’t. But it can’t do much else. The fact that it is, is of course pointing to things life, the tribulations and the trivial. But now that I’m thinking about it, this is a complete no brainier.

That’s all I have for this quote. I know it wasn’t much, but I gave it my best and most honest attempt. I’ll be trying again next week. If you think I missed something or have an idea on how I can make this segment better, please leave a comment below!

26 thoughts on “Fiction Analysis: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera”

  1. I read this book about twenty years ago. Now, I don’t know how I did. I tried to read it again a couple of months ago and couldn’t. The problem? No matter where I opened the book to read, after a few paragraphs, I was in tears. I don’t think this book was ever intended for young people to understand. It’s for those of us who have loved, lost, and look now toward the end. It’s tragic. It’s ugly. It’s so beautiful it hurts. I wish it had never been written. I wish…it could not have been written, that it wasn’t so true.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For me, the problem with 100 years was the cast of characters, generations of whom had the same name. It’s been a long time. When I tried reading him, I was a docent at Nevada Museum of Art and we featured a Fernando Botero exhibit. In order to better understand the artist (who I so enjoyed) I tried to rush through the novel since they are so closely aligned. Not someone to be read lightly. I still have the book on my to-read shelf because I do intend to try again some time at leisure.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi! Thanks for the follow and a chance to find a like-minded writing process person. This post seems like mine- analysis that’s free-formed and as much for the self as for the reader. It’s good to see that this kind of post can also be successful.
    I noticed in your first paragraph that advanced should read “advance,” and you may have meant “spitting” versus “splitting,” but splitting works here because a split self is also painful. It implies, though, that the new self is a part of the old, but only half or less. But grammar/language tips are lame. For a real tip, I have none! This is a nice analysis.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You say you don’t see how a person can be swayed if they have a conviction..but that’s exactly what happens when you grow and change. When you birth yourself. Yes, we do this over and over during our lifetime if we actually live a rich, experience filled life. Someone else said “If you aren’t learning something, you’re dead.” Or something to that effect.
    I love the idea of analyzing meaningful quotes; great for free-write prompts as well. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of my favorite writers. Every time I read or re-read one of his books I learn something else.
    Thank you for sharing this thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Really like this, and all the comments on it. It’s made me think I must read Love in a time of cholera and also that I should look at some ‘favourite quotations’ myself… I really like the idea of picking a quotation and looking at it rather than reviewing an entire book (most of the book reviews I’ve read end up telling you the entire story, and I don’t want that – I want some analysis and views of whether it’s worth reading or not. This short quotation, your comments on it and some of the comments have made me want to read the book far more than a literary review of the book might do).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after going through
    some of the articles I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I discovered it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back


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