Like Water for Chocolate is Laura Esquivel’s first novel, first published in 1989, and became a bestseller in the author’s native Mexico. Esquivel uses a creative way of bringing in monthly recipes to tell the story, just like Amy Coffin said “Throughout the book, the food is described in such detail, that I could taste every flavor”. The story is about a girl, named Tita, whose life connects closely to the kitchen when she’s young. Her love has been forbidden by her wicked mother, which makes her life miserable.
The novel’s imaginative mix of recipes, home remedies, and love story set in Mexico in the early part of the century induce readers to think about the insane tradition that causes bad things. In this story, tradition is the main cause of everything, starts from Mama Elena. She loves Jose, who carries Negro blood. Later, her family discovers and because of tradition they prevent her from being with him by force her into marriage with Juan De la Garza, Tita’s father. Mama Elena gets pregnant with Jose blood inside her baby’s body.
She plans to run away with Jose but he is murdered. Then she gives birth to Jose’s child. Juan finally knows about her love with Jose and dies of a heart attack in the day Tita is born. Tita is Juan’s third child who Mama Elena doesn’t love although Tita always tries to treat her dutifully. All her life she has been abusing Tita as she wants to take revenge for her love on Tita because when Tita is born, Juan dies (may be Mama Elena blames her for the death of Juan). No one knows about this truth of her past except herself.
She just keeps it as a secret for her entire life. If Mama Elena tells Tita, she may feel sympathetic for her mother and Pedro may wait for his true love until Mama Elena passes away. In the end, Mama Elena kills herself by taking ipecac. At first, Mama Elena separates Tita’s passionate love with Pedro. When Tita tells Mama Elena that Pedro and his father are coming to the ranch and to ask her for Tita’s hand, she says: “he’ll be wasting his time and mine too……. the youngest daughter means you have to take care of me until the day I die”.
The tradition continuously destroy Tita’s life. She has been ill-treated by Mama Elena for a long time. Esquivel’s comment about Mama at one point in the narrative is: “Unquestionably, when it came to dividing, dismantling, dismembering, desolating, detaching, dispossessing, destroying or dominating, Mama Elena was a pro”. That’s true. Conflict really starts when Pedro agrees to marry Rosaura, the second daughter. Pedro just thinks of being near Tita everyday but doesn’t think of the later consequences that he makes a such stupid decision.
Tita absolutely can run away with Pedro but if she turns her back on this tradition, she will not fulfill what society considers her responsibility to her mother and Pedro doesn’t agree anyway. Then, Pedro always tries to be near Tita, that breaks the happiness of both his marriage and Tita’s family and somehow makes Rosaura realize the truth that: “The hardest thing to do is watch the one you love, love someone else”. It is not a strange behaviour that Rosaura feels jealous when Pedro is with another woman, especially her sister.
In spite of that, Rosaura doesn’t hate Tita, but once it has happened, everything changes. Every day, Rosaura has to live with jealousy. She feels like a useless wife because she cannot cook. One day, she decides to make the family’s dinner. Only Mama Elena says it is good, the rest are sick of the food. On the other hand, when Tita cooks everyone feels like they are eating heaven’s food, except for Mama Elena. Then, Rosaura gives birth to Roberto. Being a good aunt, Tita always helps Rosaura to feed the baby. That’s one of the reasons why Mama Elena and Rosaura decide to take the baby away.
The consequence is the death of Roberto: “whatever he ate, it didn’t agree with him and he died…….. You did it, you killed Roberto”. Poor Tita becomes a lunatic after that. Later, Esparanza is born. After all that happens, Rosaura, repeats Mama Elena, applies the tradition on Esparanza, prevents her from being with Alex Brown. Finally, feeling like a fool, she dies, maybe she can’t stand this shattered family with Pedro. For Geurtrudis, she has a happy family. At the beginning of the story, Mama Elena would have offered Pedro Geurtrudis, but she is half blood of Negro so Mama Elena can’t.
If Geurtrudis married Pedro, everything would be different. Not only does this tradition ruin Tita’s family’s happiness, but ruins her love as well. She has been waiting for Pedro all her life. Her heart is broken into pieces when Pedro marries Rosaura. She cries like she has never cried. He makes Rosaura and Mama Elena hate her more than before. Tita has to stand Nacha and Roberto’s death. She has to turn down Dr. Brown’s proposal, the one who cares for her, loves her. Then she has to stand Pedro’s death right besides her and she kills herself ater that.
This prove that Byron was right: “Die for the one you love is easier than live with the one who loves you”. Magic realism is also an important part in this book. For example the wedding cake that Tita makes, it has her tears in the ingredients. After eating the cake, everyone is crying and even vomiting. The box of match is also an important part in the book. It presents the soul in a person. Or the soup that Tita eats, which makes her back to her sense. The tears that she cries (too much that becomes a river) when she eats the soup shows that she has been hiding her feelings for a long time.
In conclusion, the tradition in this story is very important, it affects characters’ lives. Especially, it leads to the death of Nacha, Tita, Pedro, Roberto, Rosaura, Mama Elena, Jose, Juan. Poor Tita has to live a miserable life on the ranch for all her life. .
References Like Water For Chocolate (Laura Esquivel) http://www. thebookhaven. net/Z_Like_Water_for_Chocolate. html http://www. mexconnect. com/en/articles/863-like-water-for-chocolate-by-laura-esquivel http://10tops. wordpress. com/category/magic-realism/ http://bugeatfrog. xanga. com/630745461/item/.