Laura Esquivel's novel "Like Water for Chocolate";

Essay by teenydandelion March 2004

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In Laura Esquivel's novel Like Water for Chocolate tradition is seen as both oppressive and freeing. These two aspects of tradition are demonstrated most strongly through Tita. Mama Elena on the other hand represents the oppressive colonial tradition and Naucha and her recipes on the other hand, represent the native Mexican tradition that frees Tita. Through a closer inspection these traditions as they are portrayed in Like Water for Chocolate on is able to see the great significance of tradition in the novel.

As discussed in class Ranger and Hohsbaum see tradition as a recent invention that is used in an attempt to exert control on the public. This is how colonialism uses it, and Mama Elena. In Like Water for Chocolate tradition is used to maintain a social hierarchy in which the ruling class are the colonizers and the natives become the followers. This relationship is demonstrated in the novel through Mama Elena and her family.

On the De la Garza ranch Mama Elena is the ruler with everyone else being subservient. However in the kitchen a different society exists. One that is based around the native traditions and is cooperative based. This system opposes the egalitarian society that Mama Elena stands for and offers an alternative to it. It is only with the death of Mama Elena and Rosaura that the rest of the ranch can truly be free.

Esquivel writes her novel in magic realism, which on its own is a celebration of Latin American tradition. This genre helps to express Mexico's own regional identity and forms a novel that upholds the tradition and helps to break from the oppression of colonialism. In a novel where tradition is so important it is also important to look at the traditional style in which the novel was...