Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez: Analysis of Saint-Amour’s Suicide
The first chapter of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera details the morbid, disordered scene in which Jeremiah de Saint-Amour commits suicide as a result of mental and physical turmoil. In the first chapter of this novel, Gabriel Garcia Marquez utilizes vivid imagery to create a setting reflective of the emotional and physical anguish that ultimately drove Saint-Amour to suicide.
Despite surviving a war, Saint-Amour returns disabled and proves unable to thrive on the mental and emotional battlefield. Marquez details certain pains that afflicted Saint-Amour in life: his body was “stiff and twisted,” an “old scar” ran “across his stomach” and “his defenseless legs looked like an orphan’s.” By blending these physical deformities that would hinder one in life with those characteristic of a corpse such as “luminous pupils” and “yellowish beard and hair,” Marquez communicates that these things led to an emotional death while Saint-Amour was physically alive. The room’s cluttered, disordered appearance bolster this notion by showing the accumulating hardships that drove him to suicide. The “crumbling pewter trays,” broken furniture,” and “glass plates” reflect his brokenness and fragility.
The “oppressive heaviness” of the enshrouding darkness gives the reader a glimpse into Saint-Amour’s life. Hardly any light permeates the room since the windows are “muffled with rags or sealed with black cardboard.” Only one window allows “the splendor of dawn” to leak through; ironically, instead of alleviating the heavy atmosphere, the light only reveals “the authority of death.” The most luminous light imagery exists in the “gold cyanide,” the compound that kills him, revealing that he felt death provided the only escape from his torment. However, his dog’s “snow-white chest” suggests that there could have been some inkling of hope in his seemingly hopeless situation. Amidst the dark, gloomy atmosphere, there is a solitary “ordinary light bulb covered with red paper.” This object contrasts the long list of dark, broken imagery, because it provides a source of light, perhaps symbolizing a small beacon of hope that Saint-Amour failed to recognize.
However, even if there is a glimmer of hope, the reader automatically knows that Saint-Amour doesn’t escape whatever fate awaits him as seen through the opening quote “it was inevitable.” Though Dr. Juvenal Urbino’s “urgent call” carries connotations of sudden disaster and emergency, Urbino knows that this fight “had lost all urgency many years before.” Urbino recognizes that any previous efforts to prevent Saint-Amour from killing himself would be a “futile struggle against death.” His room, in a disorder that seem to obey “an obscure determination of Divine Providence” carries the notion that Saint-Amour was fated to die. The “dying embers of hapless love” were bound to go out eventually, no matter how much anyone fanned the flames, trying to keep them alive.
Marquez details Saint-Amour’s disfigured corpse and his disheveled room to reflect the mental and physical hardships that he went through. His body has various injuries that would have hindered his everyday life, symbolizing the death that he felt in life. His room is covered in darkness, revealing the desolation and hopelessness he felt. Ultimately, Saint-Amour was a candle wick, fated to fizzle and die once the winds of life became too harsh to handle.
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The first chapter of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera details the morbid, disordered scene in which Jeremiah de Saint-Amour commits suicide as a result of […]