Like Water for Chocolate

LikeWater for Chocolate

In1989, a Mexican novelist, Laura Esquivel, published the “LikeWater for Chocolate”novel. The novel tells about a girl, Tita, who for her entire lifewas longing to marry, Pedro her lover. Unfortunately, Tita could notmarry him because of family traditions. According to Esquivel(n.d),“It is the youngest daughter responsibility to take care of hermother until she dies.” Therefore, Tita, been the youngest daughterwas not eligible for marriage. The novel is divided into twelvechapters each representing every month in the calendar, from Januaryto December. The main characters in the novel include Tita who is thenovel protagonist,Rosaura, Tita’s eldest sister, Gertrudis, Tita’s sister, MamaElena, mother to Tita, Gertrudi, and Rosaura, and Pedro, Tita’slover and Roaura’s husband. Other characters include Nacha, a cookand John Brown, an American doctor. The novel portrays various themessuch as duty, responsibility and tradition, obedience, and crueltyand violence.

Duty,Responsibility, and Tradition

Inthe first chapter, the theme of duty, responsibility, and traditionis clearly presented through Tita’s conflict with her mother.According to the family tradition, Tita, been the youngest daughter,had the responsibility to take care of her mother. In addition, thefamily tradition dictates her to reject Pedro’s proposal and remainat home until her mother dies. If Tita choose to get married, then,she will have failed to fulfil her duties. Corresponding, Rosauraalso enforces this family tradition to Esperanza, her daughter, andrejects Alex Brown proposal to marry her daughter. In her criticalessay, “Like water for chocolate” Kristine Ibsen states “Titais treated like a servant by her mother just because the traditiondemands so” (Ibsen136). Accordingto Ibsen, it is not fair to diminish someone happiness just becauseshe or she is the youngest in the family.


Throughoutthe novel, there is no single instance that Tita had deference towardher mother. Though her mother was very authoritative and expected herto fulfil all her responsibilities, Tita was throughout obedient.According to Maria Elena De Valdes in her essay “Verbal and VisualRepresentation of Women,” says, “Mama Elena is strong,self-reliant, and tyrannical with her daughters, and especially toTita.” Mama Elena gives Tita harsh demand and expects totalobedience without questions (DeValdes 80).In another incidence, Tita made a perfect creation but her mother wasnot pleased with it, and she demanded her had to redo it again.Without any question, Tita obeyed. Additionally, during Rosaurawedding, Mama Elena insisted Tita is the one to cook despite thedifficulties in the task. Moreover, when Nacha died, Tita took overher work to prepare meals for everyone in the ranch. Indeed, Tita hasstruggled to maintain high degree of obedience, as well as deal withher mother’s conflicts (Valdés45).

Crueltyand Violence

Inthe novel, Mama Elena is seen as a cruel person. She often searchesfor conflicts as she forces her daughters to obey her especially toTita. Most of the Mama Elena demands, especially the ones she imposesto Tita during Rosaura’s wedding are acts of cruelty and violence.She understands that Tita is painful after losing Pedro to her eldersister, but she still want to make her more painful. Furthermore, inseveral incidences Mama Elena responds o Tita protest with beatingsand angry tirades. For instance, when she thought that Tita mighthave ruined Rosaura’s wedding cake she beat her up. Additionally,one day Tita dared to blame her mother for Roberto death, and shesmacked her face off with a wooden spoon. Jaffe(199) states, “Mama Elena was merciless, killing with a singleblow.”


DeValdes, Maria Elena. &quotVerbal and visual representation of women:Como agua para chocolate/like water for chocolate.&quot&nbspWorldLiterature Today&nbsp(1995):78-82.

Esquivel,Laura.&nbspLikeWater for Chocolate.New York: Doubleday, 1992. Internet resource.

Ibsen,Kristine. &quotOn Recipes, reading and revolution: Postboom Parodyin Como agua para chocolate.&quot&nbspHispanicReview&nbsp(1995):133-146.

Jaffe,Janice A. &quot.&quot&nbspScenesof the Apple: Food and the Female Body in Nineteenth-andTwentieth-Century Women`s Writing&nbsp(2003):199.

Valdés,María E.&nbspTheShattered Mirror: Representations of Women in Mexican Literature.Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998. Print.