Eggplant in the novel highlights the unpredictability and absurdity of human emotions. As a young woman, Fermina Daza is convinced that she hates eggplant, to the point of posing not eating eggplant as one of the conditions to marry Florentino Ariza. After marrying Dr. Juvenal Urbino, she suffers because his mother Doña Blanca cooks eggplant all the time. However, when Fermina once tries eggplant without knowing what she is eating, she discovers that she actually loves this vegetable. At the end of the novel, she cooks it for Florentino during their trip on the river, symbolizing her newly found joy and love. Fermina’s sudden change of mind regarding eggplant mirrors some of her abrupt emotional shifts—for example, the moment when, despite their shared professions of love, she declared she had no feelings for Florentino. Her shifts from hatred to resignation and then to uncontrolled passion highlight the mystery of personal preferences and the uncontrollable nature of human emotions. It suggests that love (and hate) might vary over one’s life, bringing joy and suffering in unpredictable ways. In this way, it highlights the absurdity of human inner life, which can shift from one opinion to the next for no apparent reason.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Eggplant appears in Love in the Time of Cholera. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...develops through the closeness that derives from raising them. Meanwhile, Fermina is forced to eat eggplant, which Doña Blanca insists on preparing. Doña Blanca also berates Fermina for playing the harp... (full context)
...sails back at a rapid pace. To celebrate this felicitous decision, Fermina prepares a special eggplant dish that Florentino calls “Eggplant Al Amor.” The ship makes one stop early on in... (full context)