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Like Water for Chocolate

Laura Esquivel

Characters

Summary

January (Chapter 1)

Tita -  The protagonist of the novel, Tita is the youngest daughter of Mama Elena, prohibited by family tradition from marrying so that she will be free to take care of her mother later in life. The novel follows Tita's life from birth to death, focusing mostly on her tortured relationship with Pedro, and her struggle and eventual triumph in pursuit of love and individuality.
Mama Elena -  The tyrannical, widowed matriarch of the De La Garza clan, Mama Elena is the prime source of Tita's suffering. Her fierce temperament inspires fear in all three of her daughters. She keeps Tita from her true love, Pedro, and it is later revealed that Mama Elena herself once suffered from a lost love, embittering her for the rest of her life.
Pedro  -  Tita's true love, and the eventual father of Roberto and Esperanza. Denied marriage to Tita by Mama Elena, he agrees to marry Rosaura, breaking Tita's heart. Nevertheless, he asserts his continued love for Tita throughout the novel and pursues her secretly. Pedro dies after he and Tita are finally blissfully united while making love at the novel's end.
Rosaura -  The second daughter of Mama Elena, Rosaura marries Pedro, much to the despair of Tita. Rosaura leaves the ranch when Mama Elena sends her and Pedro to San Antonio to keep Pedro and Tita apart. Her first child, Roberto, dies as an infant; her second, Esperanza, prohibited like Tita from ever marrying, weds Alex after Rosaura dies.
Gertrudis -  The eldest daughter of Mama Elena, Gertrudis escapes the ranch after reacting mysteriously to one of Tita's recipes. She runs away with a rebel soldier, works in a brothel at the Mexico-Texas border, and eventually returns to the ranch as a general in the revolutionary army. It is eventually revealed that Gertrudis is the offspring of a hidden, extramarital affair between Mama Elena and her true love, a mulatto man.
Dr. John Brown  -  An American doctor who cares for Tita when she experiences a breakdown, and the father of Alex. John eventually falls in love with Tita and helps rehabilitate her soul, revealing to her the nature of the fire that resides in each individual. Tita becomes engaged to him, but eventually denies him marriage to pursue Pedro.
Nacha -  The ranch cook, of unspecified indigenous background, Nacha is the prime caretaker for Tita throughout her childhood, and provides her with the love and support that Mama Elena fails to give. She is also the source for most of the recipes in the novel. Nacha dies on the day of Rosaura's wedding but returns throughout the narrative as a spiritual guide for Tita.
Chencha -  The ranch maid, also of indigenous descent, Chencha possesses a somewhat flighty disposition. She becomes Tita's companion in the kitchen after Nacha's death.
Roberto -  The first child of Rosaura and Pedro, Roberto dies in America after being taken away from Tita's care.
Esperanza -  The second child of Rosaura and Pedro, and the mother of the narrator of the novel. She is raised by Tita in the kitchen. Her marriage to Alex breaks the De La Garza family tradition that disallows the marriage of youngest daughters.
Alex -  The son of Dr. John Brown, and the father of the narrator. He marries Esperanza.

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Feminism

by kat_salle, December 05, 2016

Violence is another trait that is not in tune with the female ideal in Mexico during the Mexican revolution, where only men are expected to be aggressive. However, while Mama Elena’s masculinity can be perceived as her having an unfavorable character, there might be an underlying reason for her becoming so hard and unyielding. It is possible that she decided to take on the role of household patriarch to keep a sense of stability on the ranch. During the Mexican revolution many women found themselves head of the household after their husban... Read more

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Magical Realism through cooking

by macbeth_1, December 05, 2016

"Something strange was going on. Tita remembered that Nacha had always said that when people argue while preparing tamales, the tamales won’t get cooked. They can be heated day after day and still stay raw, because the tamales are angry. In a case like that, you have to sing to them, which makes them happy, then they’ll cook."

218-219
Rosaura and Tita get into a heated argument when Rosaura accuses Tita of sneaking around with Pedro and prohibits Tita from having any more to do with Esperanza. The intensity of their argument... Read more

Passion in Like Water for Chocolate

by sravsa, December 05, 2016

The romantic love that is so exalted throughout the novel is forbidden by Tita's mother in order to blindly enforce the tradition that the youngest daughter be her mother's chaste guardian. However, the traditional etiquette enforced by Mama Elena is defied progressively throughout the novel. This parallels the setting of the Mexican Revolution growing in intensity. The novel further parallels the Mexican Revolution because during the Mexican Revolution the power of the country was in the hands of a select few and the people had no power to ... Read more

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