The main characters of the novel are Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza. Both Florentino and Fermina fall in love with each other in their youth. A secret relationship blossoms between the two with the help of Fermina's Aunt Escolástica. They exchange several love letters. However, once Fermina's father, Lorenzo Daza, finds out about the two, he forces his daughter to stop seeing Florentino immediately. When she refuses, he and his daughter move in with his deceased wife's family in another city. Regardless of the distance, Fermina and Florentino continue to communicate via telegraph. However, upon her return, Fermina realizes that her relationship with Florentino was nothing but a dream since they are practically strangers; she breaks off her engagement to Florentino and returns all his letters.