The Boiling Point in Like Water for Chocolate

Essay by ErilineCollege, UndergraduateA, October 2009

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Tradition is said to denote "to hand down" or "to hand over". These are the beliefs and customs passed down by parents to their children and what these children pass down to their children, stretching on to many generations until is it forgotten or lost. It is usually a way or custom the family has upheld proudly through many years, in the film Like Water for Chocolate though we see the main character of Tita being ultimately restricted by her Mama Elena's "traditions". It is her mother's reasoning that as tradition dictates Tita as the youngest in the family she shall have to remain unmarried and to care for her mother, this ultimately bars Tita from being with the man she loves and thus cause her great grief when it is her older sister that marries the man she loves. It is a completely unfair adjunct but Tita conforms to it due in part to her fear of her mother and her innate tendencies to give way to please Mama Elena.

It is also because it is "tradition", the idea "of it has always been so, so shall it" be comes into play.

As so, traditions in the story and portrayed in the film ultimately played a negative role in the lives of the characters. To Pedro, who was unable to marry the woman she loved. Also a bit to Gertrudis, her running away from home has viewed shameful by Mama Elena because her act driven by the passion of consuming Tita's cooking broke her tie to her domineering mother and from the ranch she grew up in. The person most negatively impacted by the said traditions was Tita. Most of her life was spent under the unjust treatment of her mother. She was forced to selflessly give up on her own dreams and made to serve in the ranch instead.

But even with the unfair life Tita has lived she has managed to show her strength, though it was subtle and a little erratic. Is Tita a strong female character? Yes. Yes because we saw her struggle fiercely through really large bumps in her life and still she was able to overcome them with her passion and own search for just action. She argued about the situation of Pedro marrying Rosaura and though Mother Elena had overruled her at the matter she was still able to let her opposition to the arrangement be felt through her cooking which caused the guest at Rosaura's wedding to feel ill and vomit. Her realization of the whole tradition of the youngest remaining unmarried to cater to their mother and her arguments over this also showed how she is able to think for herself and deigns to pursue her own desire and ideals and not conform to such a predicament though it should be noted that in her own situation she was unable to overcome this predicament with her mother. Making up for this, she was still able to help Ezperanza avoid the same fate by fighting and arguing relentless with her sister Rosaura which in the end Tita had the final say.

Tita's character comes off as a very feminist also, but her dutifulness working in the house especially in the kitchen makes a good contrast of her being feminist, full of ideals and desire she wishes to attain, and to her conformity to being just a mere stay at home house girl(?). It actually gives an interesting perspective to both roles of the women, in one, women are strong and prominent characters. They are the said to carry the culture from generation to generation and they are able to transform people's lives with their presence. On the other hand women in this story still act as the nurturers and the one staying at home to cater to the family, to cook, clean and all such tradition women's role hold in the household. It is, I guess, a woman's ability to adapt to her situation and subtly influence people that gives women that certain charm that elevates them and develops them into stronger individual while still maintaining a nurturing aura.

"Like Water for Chocolate." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia. February 14, 2008.