Sunday, March 20, 2011

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

This story begins with Tita De La Garza, the youngest daughter of the De La Garza family. Tita has worked in the kitchen with their cook, Nacha, since she could remember and has developed a love for cooking. She lives in the kitchen and uses cooking as a release from her strict mother, Mama Elena. Following a family tradition, Mama Elena will never allow Tita to marry, stating that the youngest daughter must remain single for her entire life in order to take care of the mother (Mama Elena). This tradition is difficult for Tita to follow, as a man by the name of Pedro Muzquiz has asked for her hand. Mama Elena forbids the marriage, but she does offer her second youngest daughter, Rosaura, instead. This union between Pedro and Rosaura nearly pushes Tita to a breaking point, as she has fallen in love with Pedro. She acts as though she could never forgive her mother. Tita says, "...she [Mama Elena] had been killing her a little at a time since she was a child, and she still hadn't quite finished her off" (49).

Tita tries to occupy herself by cooking up delicious dishes for her and her family, however, she is once again nearly pushed to her breaking point when she is forced by Mama Elean to prepare the food for the wedding. This nearly destroys her, but luckily she finds comfort in the whole ordeal after talking to Pedro at the wedding. He tells her that he still truly loves her and that he has agreed to marrying Rosaura so that he could be closer to her.

The marriage progresses and Tita continues her cooking, as each chapter opens with a new recipe. Rosaura and Pedro have a child named Roberto who Tita takes care of. Roberto serves as a link between Pedro and Tita. Mama Elean senses that something is going on between them, and she forces Pedro and Rosaura to leave Mexico. After their departure, Roberto dies. The death of Roberto finally pushes Tita over the top, and Mama Elean sends her to a facility where she becomes very familiar with Dr. John Brown.

Tita begins to develop very strong feelings for John Brown, and they both move back to the ranch to care for the dying Mama Elena. After her death, however, Pedro and Rosaura return to the ranch. Tita is once again reunited with her true love, and, now being free from Mama Elena, she begins to question her feelings about John. Tita and Pedro have an affair, and Tita becomes pregnant. This forces her to tell John, her new fiance, that she has had an affair. Surprisingly he is accepting of the situation and still offers her marriage. He does say, however, that the decision is hers and only she knows what she wants. In the meantime, Tita is haunted by the ghost of Mama Elena who frequently appears and curses the baby. Eventually, Tita has a miscarriage.

The story ends many years later with another wedding, this time the union of Pedro and Rosaura's second child, Esperanza, and Dr. John Brown's son, Alex. Rosaura has seemed to disappear, and Tita and Pedro are madly in love, even though they never officially married one another. Shortly after the wedding, they both die together.

Discussion Questions:

1. If you were Tita in this story, how would you handle the family tradition of not being allowed to marry, being the youngest daughter? Would you go against the wishes of Mama Elena, or would you deal with it and try to make the best out of it?

2. Tita did not agree with the family tradition, however, she never really acted out against Mama Elena, at least not during Mama Elena's lifetime. Does this make Tita a strong female figure in this story? Why or why not?


Laura B. 13-14 said...

2- Tita is a srong female character because even though Mama has died Tita still disrespects her rules. Whether alive or dead, her rules are still in place therefore, Tita is a strong woman character because she turns her back on old traditions.

Laura B. 13-14 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristen T. 11-12 said...

I agree, I feel that she is a strong female character because of what she did after the fact. She really did not have a choice with Mama Elena. Mama Elena is not one that she could easily negotiate with, so Tita had to accept it for how it was and deal with it. Because she refused to follow this tradition after the fact, however, this does show her strength.

MaryL11-12 said...

If I found someone that was worth going against my family's traditions for then no I wouldn't just deal with it. But I wouldn't go against my family just because. The person I found must be someone I was really convinced could provide a good life for me.

Kristen T. 11-12 said...

I agree, I feel that family ties are very important, however, one must live her own life. If that means doing what's best for her even though it may be against her family's wishes, she should do it. It will make her a better and stronger person in the end.

Amanda Z. 11-12 said...

2. I think she's a strong female figure because she was able to do what she wanted, and change a tradition without reeeallyy hurting anyones feelings.

Liz S.11-12 said...

I would absolutely ignore my mother if that was the tradition in my family. i would move out, fall in love, and live my life. No doubt.

I think it shows that she is strong..she could easily have been selfish and ignored eveything her mom said and left her to take care of herself, but instead she made a sacrifice and was then also able to make herself happy in the end.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

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