Impressions Left by Like Water for Chocolate

“There are some things in life that shouldn’t be given so much importance, if they don’t change what is essential.”

― Laura EsquivelLike Water for Chocolate

There are many different directions I could take when relating the word impression to Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquirel.

likewhatI could start off talking about the transformation of beginning to final impression I acquired from this book.  Usually when determining what book I choose to read, I go for ones that visually appeal or impress me. However when I chose Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel I went completely against my element and solely chose it due to it’s layout. Anything involving cooking, especially Mexican/Latino novels are not usually my first pick, but the fact that the book is divided into twelve sections named after the months of the year and each section begins with a Mexican recipe, captured my interests. Different from choosing a book when I read for pleasure, I researched into this book further to conclude if it was one I would actually enjoy and discovered to my delight that it touches base on some of my favourite themes; being cruelty/violence at homes and self growth, making for a novel that I believed would suit my interests.

This book was anything but a burden. Not only an easy/quick read, it was also an unexpected delight. I was surprised how easily I could connect it back to other books and even personal experiences regarding love and heartbreak. Ignoring my usual instincts to chose a book based on it’s cover’s impression on me, not only led me to this enjoyable novel, but also A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini which shares similar plots/themes. Like back in the summer when I read Hosseini’s novel, I was surprised how much I enjoyed a foreign-originated novel as much as I did. Both novels had taught me how similar people’s situations are no matter where they are in the world and has impressed the reality that heartache and cruelty/violence isn’t limited to one race or ethnicity.

aqua

When considering the novel itself and the themes of cruelty/violence at homes, forbidden love and self growth, each character has had a crucial impression on the next.

Tita is the youngest of three daughters of Mama Elena and the main character of Like Water for Chocolate. As the youngest she is prohibited by family tradition from marrying so she can take care of her mother until she dies.  She develops a close relationship Nacha (the cook of the family) and the prime caretaker for Tita as she grows up. Nacha is only in the novel for a short time as she dies of the day of Rosaura’s wedding (the middle child), but plays an important role in influencing/impressing Tita (as a sort of guardian angel) with advice in even the toughest situations, and seems to be the backbone that Tita always refers to (as she is the one who ultimately makes Tita fall in love with cook and teaches her all she knows). When Nacha dies, Chencha the maid becomes Tita’s only companion after her sister Rosaura betrays Tita by marrying the love of her life Pedro and moving away to San Antonio. The marriage of Pedro and Rosario is forbidden by her bitter mother Mama (or Mami) Elena but allows her sister to marry Pedro. Due to her strict rules and forbidding of her youngest to get married, she tends to be the prime source of Tita’s suffering. Throughout the book even after her death, Tita’s mom haunted Tita in whatever she did. She was never appreciative of Tita’s actions no matter what she did, never complimented her, wanted her to succeed in anything, and ultimately was okay with her living a miserably, lonely life. Her bitterness and constrictive grasp on Tita at times almost leads her to giving up on love, but right before her death leads her to the hands of Dr. John Brown, the family doctor. As Tita goes through her breakdown he is the only one there for her, and eventually falls in love with her and helps her out of her six month long period of absolute silence. Although they become engaged, it’s his companionship that helps eventually leads Tita to denying him and pursuing Pedro. Mama Elena’s death is what brings all three sisters together. Rosaura and Pedro come back home with their newborn Esperanza which once again sparks up the romance between Pedro and Tita. Unable to deny the lingering love for one another, Pedro and Tita make love for the first time as well multiple occasions following. Rosaura aware of this connection finally agrees to let them have their affair as long as it’s kept a secret, but eventually ends up dying due to digestive problems. It’s important to note that like her mother, Rosaura had the plan to not allow Esperanza marry since she wanted her Esperanza to take care of her until she died. Tita knew wholeheartedly how unfair and destructive the situation was (as she was the first in the novel to experience it), but it doesn’t become a problem anymore with her mother’s death. Esperanza ends up marrying Alex, Dr. John Brown’s son that he had with his first wife, ultimately breaking  the family tradition that disallows the marriage of youngest daughters. It is after this wedding when all obstacles not allowing Pedro and Tita to be together are finally out of the way, and make love in without any objections for the first and last time (dying peacefully and ecstatically together). Tita is the great-aunt of Esperanza who we find out at the end of the novel was the narrator the whole time and has decided to carry out Tita’s legacy. You’re probably wondering about the third daughter. Gertrudis the oldest daughter, escapes half way through the novel from Mama Elena’s grasp with a rebel soldier who eventually because her husband. It’s revealed after Mama’s death that Gertrudis is the result of an affair that Mama Elena had with her true love (a black man). When Mama had discovered she was pregnant with his child they had planned to run away together, until he was randomly killed during the night and left Mama to settle with her husband at the time (who ends up dying shortly after). It’s finally understood how Mama Elena’s suffered from a lost love is what caused her to be so bitter the rest of her life. While still inexcusable, it is that exactly bitterness that the novel revolves around. Throughout the whole book Tita struggles with individuality and the pursuit of love (which are both discouraged by Mama). While her mother could have made Tita’s life a hundred times similar and less miserable, without the struggle to be with Pedro, the couple might have never realized their complete love for each other…..clearly each character had a deep impression on the next. Without the interactions that took place between every person, there would be infinite alternative endings that most likely would not result with Pedro and Tita ultimately being together.

 

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