Like Water for Chocolate Study Guide

Like Water for Chocolate Study Guide

Original title:
Como agua para chocolate
October 1st 1996 by Random House Black Swan (first published 1989)
ISBN 0552995878 (ISBN13: 9780552995870)

Laura Esquivel wrote “Life Water for Chocolate” in 1989. It is a typical Mexican novel, full of passion, love, family duties, poor choices and suffering. It is in this book that we discover an old family tradition in Latin countries where the youngest daughters don’t marry in order to focus on caring for their mothers until they die.

The novel follows the relationship inside one family. The young girl Tita De La Garza is in love with Pedro and it is mutual. But she has an elder sister and by the family rule, she is the one to get married and create her own family. Tita is left with cooking as the only way to express herself and claim her independence.

The man she loves, Pedro Muzquiz, is offered to marry Tita's sister Rosaura and he accepts the proposal just for the sake of being close to his love. They live on the ranch close to Tita and their strict mother Elena. Rosaura has a baby, but Tita treats the boy as her own and even breastfeeds him. Eventually, Mama Elena sends Rosaura and Pedro away, then she refuses Tita’s care and dies. All the characters suffer from this situation as they feel the tension, but can’t solve the problem.

The novel comprises 12 chapters and their division is closely related to the time of the year in the plot. Each chapter begins with a specialty recipe from Mexican cuisine. Mama Elena keeps the order it the family even after her death, coming to Tita as a ghost. Eventually, the young girl learns to stand up to her mother and gains her independence.

Besides the plot, the text represents the magical realism style and serves as a rich picture of Mexican culture: it is full of Mexican peppers, Mexican spices and smells, Mexican recipes and textures, events of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 - 1917. It is a bright and colorful book, bringing magic and feeling of joy into the reading process.

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