In the book Like Water for Chocolate, women have
the most control on the ranch. Men like Pedro play a big part, but women play a bigger part, because the book is based mostly on how certain events affect their emotions. Even the issue between Tita and Pedro is described from the women's point of view. Another good example is, after Mama Elena's death, "...her presence was enough to inspire terror."(Esquival, 159). This goes to show how much impact the women have on the ranch, including the cooking and cleaning, without which the men could not survive.
Though women take the lead in running the ranch, men also play a big part; this is seen when they go into town to find a doctor to help with Roberto's birth. Even though one of the women, Tita, delivered the baby, had the men not come back with a doctor to check up on Roberto and Rosaura's health after the birth, a lot could have gone wrong.
Of course, a lot also has to do with the simple aspect that there's usually need for a man to protect the household: "You need a man to protect the house." (Esquival, 80).
Without many men on the ranch, it's very important that the women learn to be self-sufficient. Tita began breast-feeding a baby that wasn't hers, even though she had never given birth herself, which demonstrates that point. The women have to dump heavy buckets of water into a tub in order to bathe, "The poor thing climbed up and down ten times, carrying buckets of water." (Esquival, 54), castrate roosters, cook large meals and clean up aferward. It's easy to see that life was an ongoing struggle for the women of the ranch.
Seeing as Mama Elena...