Fermina and Florintino have broken it off, and the arc of their romance reminds me of many internet relationships of modern day.
The two of them communicated nearly exclusively via letters, even though they lived in the same town. Then when Fermina moved away, they continued their correspondence for several years, eventually agreeing to marry–all while having said no more than a few sentences to eachother in person, and those years ago.
Then, one day Flortintino comes upon Fermina in the market and whispers in her ear–something that took great courage, as Florintino was always completely paralyzed when he saw her, and could only watch from afar–but when she turns and sees his face up close, the spell is broken, and she realizes it’s all been an illusion. She leaves, and drops the whole thing that moment, never answering his letters or seeing him again–all too easy for her, since they only spoke via letters, and no one other than her father and one cousin even knew he existed.
This kind of ephemeral relationship, though possibly rare and strange in the past, is now commonplace with the advent of the internet. I’m sure countless people can identify with either Florintino–who fell madly in love with someone he’d basically never met in real life, and then was destroyed when she vanished. Or with Fermina, who realized she was in too deep with someone who, in actuality, was a complete stranger, and cut it off while she could.
A good story stays relevant over the years, and this one has in ways the author probably never anticipated…