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Like Water for Chocolate

Laura Esquivel


October (Chapter 10)

page 1 of 2


The ranch is overwhelmed by the presence of so many houseguests, as Gertrudis and her army stay for more than a week. Tita longs to share her problem with her sister and finally gathers the strength to do so. Gertrudis calmly hears Tita's story and offers steadfast support. She urges Tita to talk with Pedro about the pregnancy. At first, Pedro is joyous and wants to run away with Tita, but he then remembers his family. Neither is sure what should be done.

That night, the ghost of Mama Elena appears, angered by the sight of Pedro drunkenly serenading Tita under her window. The ghost threatens Tita violently, ordering her to leave the house. Tita stands up to the ghost, expelling her with severe words: "I know who I am! A person who has a perfect right to live her life as she pleases. Once and for all, leave me alone, I won't put up with you! I hate you, I've always hated you!"

This proclamation banishes the haunting spirit of Mama Elena, which shrinks into a small, spinning light. At the same instant, Tita feels changes in her body: Her swollen belly is eased, her pained breasts are soothed, and she lets loose a "violent menstrual flow." Meanwhile, the spinning light has turned into a small fireball. It bursts through the window of Tita's room and onto the patio below, where Pedro remains in a drunken stupor. The fireball causes an oil lamp near Pedro to explode, setting fire to his entire body.

Everyone rushes to Pedro's side, with Tita weeping uncontrollably and Rosaura trying to be the dutiful wife. When Pedro cries out for Tita alone, Rosaura is humiliated and locks herself in her room for a week. Tita is consumed with caring for Pedro. Soon after this incident, Gertrudis and her regiment leave the ranch. On the same day, John returns from the United States. Tita is happy to see him, but dreads the news she must deliver.


Tita's clear articulation of her desires and assertion of her life force hold the key to her power over Mama Elena's haunting spirit. The fact that Tita's words are enough to banish the ghost demonstrates the extent to which her declaration alters her relationship with her mother. In stating that she has "a perfect right to live… as she pleases," Tita locates herself outside the realm of the stifling traditional values imposed by her mother. Tita believes that her identity depends not on her place in a regimented hierarchy, but rather on her desires, exhibiting a fundamental American value that John Brown introduced to her in his discussion of the individual's internal fire.

The disappearance of Tita's pregnancy accords with Tita's elevation from being the object of others' emotions to asserting control over her identity. The recognition of herself as an individual lets Tita fight back against Mama Elena's emotional abuse and shed her unwanted pregnancy, which was facilitated by Pedro's objectification of her. The disappearance of the pregnancy brings great relief to Tita, because she will not have to suffer the stigma of having mothered a child under scandalous circumstances. It also introduces a strange paradox: Tita, depicted throughout as the consummate nurturer, is stripped of her own child. Her desire to avoid the societal predicament that her pregnancy would put her in outweighs the power of her impulse to nurture. One can argue that Tita's ability to assert her identity is limited, to a degree, by her fear of the crippling judgments of both Mama Elena and society at large.

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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


24 out of 24 people found this helpful

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."

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


4 out of 5 people found this helpful

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


6 out of 8 people found this helpful

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