Literary Analysis Essay – Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate was first published in the summer of 1989 and enjoyed wide acclaim in the author’s native Mexico. Esquivel was raised by loving modern parents who exposed her to literature at a tender age. Growing up around her extended family also meant that she had frequent interactions with her kin and discussions about Mexican state of affairs. Her childhood experiences soon prompted her to pursue a career in writing while also translating her works into international languages. Like Water for Chocolate was written in her childhood perspective, describing the tumultuous life that many of the subjects mentioned had to grapple with living in Mexico.
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The story follows Tita, a young girl whose deepest desire is to be with her lover Pedro and lead a life of her own choosing. However, there are a number of hurdles that she would first have to surmount, chief among them being the fact that her mother expects her to follow family traditions. As the youngest daughter, culture dictates that she should not marry but remain at home looking after their mother until she passes on (Esquivel). She is, therefore, caught between a roc and a hard place since she can hardly express her feelings regarding the matter to break free from this vice grip. She finds solace in the kitchen as did Esquivel when she was younger. Tita eventually rebels and embarks on a journey of self-identity. The setting is an integral part of the novel’s development which is why it is fundamental to discuss its relevance.
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Esquivel novel is set Piedaras Negras, Northern Mexico at a time when rebellion was at its height. A series of insurgences had finally progressed into a full-blown rebellion that was bound to transform life in Mexico. The local population was determined to remove Porfirio Diaz from power and replace him with a leader of their own choosing. He had failed to name successor after 35 years in office which spelled doom for the young nation. To avert the possibility of a political crisis, agrarian-based rebels took this opportunity to wage armed conflict and reclaim their country (Knight 65). Peasants and natives living in the countryside were particularly outraged by the country’s leadership who they accused of being disingenuous. The rich elite had corrupted most of figure heads in return for concessions that would make it quite easy for them to exploit the peasants.
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In addition to this, the old political leaders were known dictators dedicated to ensuring that they stifled democracy and made Mexico a land controlled by the wealthy. Under the charismatic leadership of Emiliano Zapata and Panco Villa, the Mexican Revolution gained traction as a way of ensuring that commoners could regain control over their lives and resources. It is vital to acknowledge that this particular setting served as ideal literary fodder for Esquivel’s novel. The story is set during turbulent times when rebels were conducting guerrilla warfare and they are mentioned severally in the story. Mexico, therefore, allows the author to develop her plot in a manner that revolves around the political situation in the country. For instance, does not return home out of filial duty, but does so only after being surviving a bandit attack that leaves her contemplating her life choices.
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The story’s setting also allows Esquivel’s to express her ideas of personal revolts and how individuals choose to address them. It is no secret that there are many parallels between the Mexican Revolution and Tita’s own struggle to assert her struggle. Pancho Villa’s revolutionary forces are bent on removing Porfirio Diaz’s government since they are firmly opposed to the suppression they witness. They primary objective is to revive democratic tendencies where every Mexican was equal under the law and treated fairly by those fortunate enough to hold positions of power (Mraz). Unfortunately, the incumbent is not quite ready to accept these demands. The revolutionary forces eventually clash with the Mexican regime in an attempt to remove the oppressive overlords from power. The widespread subjugation evident in Mexico allows Esquivel’s to craft a character battling similar demons and her quest for autonomy. It is quite evident that Tita is firmly opposed to the dictates she receives from her mother. Each day is a struggle pitting mother against daughter.
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Tita struggles to free herself from this yoke and, in the process, becomes the author’s best option to express tussles between the protagonists and her mother. Just like Pancho Villa’s revolutionary tendencies, Tita soon seeks sovereignty and individuality. Nevertheless, Mama Elena stands as an obstacle towards the attainment of this goal and the primary reasons why their relationship is fraught with difficulties “You don’t have an opinion, and that’s all I want to hear about it. For generations, not a single person in my family has ever questioned this tradition, and no daughter of mine is going to be the one to start” (Esquivel 9). Conflict is generally thought as an alternative that is bound to aid the subjects in dealing with deep personal wounds. Mama Elena lashes out on her daughter since she remembers her lost love while Tita experiences her despotic and domineering tendencies.
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19th century Mexico is an emotionally charged atmosphere which serves as an ideal setting for Like Water for Chocolate. During this period,Mexico was experiencing one of the most pivotal events since its inception; the revolution of 1910. Two things would were bound to come out of this political fervor. Either, the rebels would succeed in their attempts to usher in a new era punctuated by a return to democracy, or they would fail and the government would mn continue with its ruthless antics. Native peasants living in the countryside would particularly suffer the most since most of them were sympathetic to the revolution’s cause. Some of them even went as far as harboring rebels and passing crucial intelligence which would automatically be considered as treason. It was this particular reality that caused emotions to well up in a population of Mexicans who were uncertain of what lay ahead. Correspondingly, Esquivel’s novel is emotionally charged and filled with numerous instances of intense sentiments. Tita wants to follow her heart but has a hard time doing so as a result of Mama Elaine’s hard stance. As mentioned earlier, her status as the youngest daughter is the subject of constant discussions that center on her looking after her elderly mother (Esquivel). She escapes this tension through cooking, albeit momentarily. Getrudis is aware of the ensuing conflict and resorts to flee from the ranch. Tita is aware of the consequences of an intense romance, but does not stop, ultimately resulting in Pedro’s post-coital demise.
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In conclusion, Like Water for Chocolate’s Mexican setting had a profound influence on the novel and how the author developed her characters. The ensuing chaos after the onset of the Mexican Revolution, rebellion and sheer emotion made it possible for Esquivel to develop a plot that was in congruence with prevailing events. Thus, the setting was a major factor that ultimately shaped the narrative’s progression.Order Unique Answer Now