Like Water for Chocolate
February (Chapter 2)
The fateful wedding of Pedro and Rosaura has the De La Garza household in a tremendous blur of activity. The kitchen is consumed with the preparation of the Chabela Wedding Cake, the recipe for which begins this chapter. The wedding feast requires gigantic proportions of food--170 eggs for the cake and 200 roosters to be fattened up and served as capons. Nacha and Tita shoulder the bulk of this effort. In shock from the circumstances and fatigued by the work required to prepare the feast, Tita is plagued by hallucinations. Mama Elena sternly declares that she will not have Tita ruin the wedding. Tita continues to cook, but eventually she and Nacha near the point of breakdown. When Mama Elena leaves the kitchen, Nacha encourages Tita to release her emotions before the wedding. Finally able to express herself, Tita breaks down into endless tears. After weeping profusely, Tita continues cooking and finds that her tears have made the cake batter soggy.
Later, Tita accidentally runs into Pedro in the garden while picking apricots. He makes it clear that he still desires her, wishing to explain himself; however, Tita refuses to hear him out. Back in the kitchen and fixating on the whiteness of the cake icing she is preparing, Tita is continually affected by hallucinations. Nacha insists that Tita get some rest. Alone in the kitchen, Nacha tastes the cake icing to see if Tita's tears have made it salty. She finds the flavor unchanged, but is suddenly overcome with a sense of immense loss. She remembers her own lost, youthful love and takes sick with an ache so terrible that she cannot attend the wedding.
However, Tita must attend the wedding and suffer the intense scrutiny of the assembled guests, all of whom know about her feelings for Pedro. She is harassed by their comments and stares, but maintains a stoic appearance. As she passes through the receiving line where guests congratulate the newlyweds, Tita is forced to face Pedro, who uses the opportunity to whisper to her that his love for her is undying. Mama Elena witnesses the uncommonly long embrace and questions Tita as to the words exchanged. Tita does not divulge what happened, but is scared by Mama Elena's threats and tries to stay away from Pedro and Rosaura.
Tita spends the rest of the wedding in newfound glee, basking in the warmth of Pedro's confession. The guests begin to eat the wedding cake, and everyone is reduced to the same fit of longing and wailing that struck Nacha earlier. The heartache is coupled with bouts of vomiting, and the entire wedding party is ruined.
Having left immediately after eating a single piece of cake, Tita is the only person to escape the scourge. Her gaiety over Pedro's love is tempered by the physical pain of the vicious beating she suffers at the hands of Mama Elena, who is certain that Tita purposefully poisoned the wedding cake. Tita is unable to convince her mother otherwise and unable to seek defense in Nacha, who is found dead, clutching a portrait of her lost lover.
The weakness and hallucinations that Tita experiences while preparing the wedding feast are physical manifestations of the heartache that begins with her terrible cold. She fixates on the wedding cake and wedding gown, which serve as dreadful symbols of her hopeless love. The focus of her hallucinations on the whiteness of these objects comments on the purity of Tita's emotions, in contrast to the loveless, and hence impure, nature of the impending union between Rosaura and Pedro. Additionally, the color white evokes ideals of femininity and womanhood--ideals to which Tita will never be able to conform because she is forbidden to love and marry. White also represents a virginity that Tita is never supposed to escape.
The wedding of Rosaura and Pedro marks the first instance when Tita wields, albeit unknowingly, the power that food offers her. Afflicted by sadness, Tita pours her emotions into the food she prepares by means of her tears (it is relevant here to recall the flood of tears in which Tita was born). Tita's tears induce incessant vomiting and a terrible sense of loss among the wedding guests. However,more than a mere echo of Tita's sorrow, these effects constitute a violent and amplified expression of emotion, as the cake inflicts actual pain. Tita's emotions have been transfigured: For Tita, trapped in the domestic sphere and denied not only control but also the right to rage at her fate, food serves to exact the vengeance she seeks. She subconsciously transforms the emotional violence she has suffered into an act of social violence. However, Mama Elena responds with real physical violence, illustrating the limits of Tita's expression. Though the marriage occurs, the fits of vomiting ruin the wedding party and Rosaura's pure white dress, exposing the event for the false and impure affair it is.
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