“Like Water for Chocolate” by LauraEsquivel tells the story of the youngest daughter from a family that lives inMexico.
Tita De La Garza’s title as the youngest daughter comes withrestrictions based on old tradition. One of the main things that Tita cannot dois get married. The tradition is kept in play by her mother, Mama Elena.
Theman that Tita loves is named Pedro and he wanted to marry Tita, however, sincethe family was still ruled by the old tradition they were not allowed to marry.Instead, Pedro married Tita’s sister, Rosaura. Pedro only married Rosaura so thathe would be able to stay near Tita. When Pedro and Rosaura moved into theranch, Tita cooked a meal for Pedro using petals of a rose that he had given toher. The force of their love was felt through the food and this caused hersister to become lustful and she runs away from the ranch with a soldier fromthe revolution. The marriage between Pedro and Rosaura produced a baby boynamed, Roberto, who was delivered by Tita. Tita ends up treating Roberto as ifhe was her own child and even nursed him using her own breast milk that she wasable to produce while Rosaura was unable. Eventually, Mama Elena realizes thedeep connection that is growing between Tita and Roberto and sends the smallfamily away.
Roberto eventually dies because of the separation between him andTita. This caused Tita to have a mental breakdown that led to her being sent toan asylum. Dr. John Brown is the doctor thathelped Tita get better after allowing her to live in his house. As Tita wasrecovering she decided that she was never going to return to the family ranchbecause of all the negative associations that she has with it. However, she isforced to return when she hears the news that Mama Elena had been injured in araid led by rebels. Her return home was not greeted warmly by her mother, whocontinued to push her away.
Tita attempts to cook for her mother to show herthat she cares and to nurse her back to health but her mother refuses to eather food and claims it is because the food is poisoned. In the end, Mama Elenadies because she ingested too much emetic because she was scared of beingpoisoned. The death of her mother freed Tita from the old tradition thatprohibited her from getting married and gets engaged to John Brown, herprevious doctor. When Tita gets engaged Pedro andRosaura also move back to the ranch which causes Tita to become unsure of herfeelings for John. Pedro’s presence at the ranch disrupts Tita’s life in waysthat she didn’t anticipate. Pedro and Tita end up having sex the night thatJohn asked Pedro to bless the engagement.
This leads Tita to believe that she ispregnant and she begins to show all the signs of pregnancy. Mama Elena’s spiritcomes to curse Tita and her baby’s life when the news of the pregnancy isdiscovered. When Tita’s sister Gertrudis returns as a general in therevolutionary army she is able to provide support for Tita and convinces her totell Pedro about the pregnancy. Their happiness over the pregnancy causes MamaElena’s spirit to return to torment Tita but this time Tita stands up to hermother which sets Tita free and her pregnancy symptoms are also gone.
Afteryears pass, Pedro and Tita are finally able express their love for each otherwith no boundaries when their children with Rosaura and John get married. Whenthey die they are able to unite in the spirit world and their intense love setsfire to the ranch, leaving only the cookbook that Tita wrote. The book had several dynamiccharacters present that all had different takes on life. TIta and her familywere different from each other because Tita did not want to be stopped fromliving her life because of a tradition that she didn’t necessarily believe in.
Once she fell in love she was unable to hide the fact that she didn’t believein the tradition. This relates to real life in that the traditions thatfamilies keep are not always ones that fit into the younger generation’slifestyle. Some traditions eventually die out because they have no place in thecurrent atmosphere of a family’s life. Then there are others that are soengrained into the family’s culture and dynamic that even if they aredisruptive they are still carried out. The tradition that ruled Tita’s familywas also the tradition that eventually tore them apart. The distance in afamily can stem from their disagreements on traditions in real life. Tita and her sister displayed aform of rebellion that her other sister Rosaura never did. They were determinedto live their lives for themselves and not be completely rooted in tradition.
Gertrudis was especially rebellious when she ran away with the man from thearmy whom she lusted after. This decision to leave was certainly not one thatwas taken very well by the rest of the family but even so, this point in thestory was challenging the usual rules that applied to one’s gender. Gertrudis, beingfemale, was limited from having the ability to make many decisions about herown life but leaving was a decision she made for herself.
Her decisioneventually led to her own success in the revolutionary army by becoming ageneral. This is especially representative of her breaking the traditionalgender roles of this time. She did not conform to what others expected from herno matter the cost. Although Tita disagreed with therole that she was given as the youngest daughter she still played the part. Shetook up cooking as her own way to express herself and became the best she couldbe at it.
This plays into traditional gender roles where the women arecontinuously expected to be good at and happy with the roles typicallyassociated with them. This mainly includes household chores and of coursehaving children and being a mother to them. Although Tita was not allowed tohave a family of her own she did nurture her nephew in a way that a motherwould and this displays her want for a family, which is expected of her.
Rosaura is a very traditionalcharacter in the story. She doesn’t display the same type of rebellion as hersisters. She actually gets married and continues the family tradition. Herchildren are raised in the same way that she was raised. Her daughter is alsosubject to the same tradition that barred Tita from getting married since sheis the only daughter that Pedro and Rosaura had. The story had the threesisters exemplify different levels of comfort with the way their lives werebeing dictated.
This is relatable to an actual family because members offamilies will usually have different ideals and they are not going to followtraditions or traditional roles in the same way. Some of the aspects of thecharacters’ lives are relatable. Rosaura being the oldest of the daughters isthe one who has to uphold the tradition and she is placed under a lot ofpressure to do so. Her status as the first daughter also comes withexpectations that she may not be fully accepting of but she goes through witheverything that is thrown her way. This is relatable because family cultureusually dictates that the first and oldest child is in a way responsible forsetting an example that the rest of the children are expected to follow. Theyare placed under pressure to fulfill the parents dreams for them. Knowing one’s identity and beingable to express that fully is something that many people are not able to do fora long time. The same issue occurred in the book with Tita because although sheknew what she did and did not want she was unable to defend herself against theprejudice and could not break out of the tradition that was being upheld by hermother.
Tita was unable to have her own children and when she tried to love hernephew as a mother would, her own mother was the one that separated them andcaused Tita to lose herself. Her breakdown pushed her away from her familywhere she was able to recover and realize that living at the ranch was not theright thing for her. Even then, she was not able to remain true to her desiresand had to return home to care for a mother who did not want her there. Hermother was the center of Tita’s struggle to find happiness and it wasn’t untilthe very end of the book where she finally stood up to her mother that she wasable to take hold of her life and identity. At the end of the book, she was nolonger the daughter who was trying to make her mother happy at the sake of herown happiness and was able to live the way she wanted. This change in her life ledher to finally take control of her life and decide for herself who she wantedto be with. One memorable aspect of the bookwas that Tita no matter the situation was able to get through the disadvantagesthat she faced because she had thing that she loved to do.
Her cooking was anaspect of her life that she embraced fully and was able to claim as her own. Inlife, there are many times in which a person can feel lost and not know wherethey stand in their family or society but having one thing that they can claimas their passion allows them to have something to look forward to and fall backon for support. Tita’s love for cooking never wavered and she knew that it wasthe thing she could count on no matter what. This love she felt for cooking washer foundation and the thing she could always count on.