top of page

Like Water for Chocolate a Harsh Analysis

Like Water for Chocolate was a fascinating periodical, turned book, turned film. It truly pulled the reader into the drama. When reading, I may have hated Tita as a character, but I understood her motivations. Every person and action within the story is debatable and that is what good writing is all about. Due to the book being so true to the complexity of life, I could not help but pick sides, and no I'm not team Tita or team Rosaura. With that I unveil my opinion on this literary work; Tita is an attention-seeking interloper and Pedro is a responsibility shrugging creep. Dr. John Brown, Nacha, and Chencha were the more redeeming characters that let the reader know that there are some decent people in this meddle of a flawed cast of characters. So, let's begin with why I have that point of view.

The entire book's conflict is based on Pedro being solely interested in Tita, the lead female character and she felt the same about him. Tita though is forbidden to wed, as it is her family's tradition, which had never been broken, for the youngest daughter to remain a caregiver to her mother until the mother's death and thus cannot marry as a detail of this imposed arrangement. Upon hearing this, Pedro with his love for Tita, marries Tita's slightly older sister, Rosaura in order to stay close to Tita, and therefore resigns to begin a marriage with the intent to commit adultery, unbeknownst to Rosaura. The book carries on throughout its entirety with Tita and Pedro sneaking around and Rosaura being the old goat no one likes. Rosaura all the while thinks that the tradition of servitude for the youngest daughter is a good thing and looks down her nose at Tita for her attitude and actions.

The meaning of all of this could be a few things. The first being that Tita represents the struggle between duty and free will, an issue that falls onto Pedro as well. From the beginning, Pedro wanted to run away with Tita, but not so much for her. Tita may have been having the same problem many adults have, the wonder of "will it all work out or should I be proactive about my choices?" Gertrudis is the antithesis to Tita, living as she chooses and reaping all that comes with it. Their mother Elena is the societal enforcer to her girls, favoring Rosaura for the fulfillment of her womanly duties. Mama Elena embraced Rosaura, for her ability to meet all impressed status and obligatory quotas without question. The three females encompass different storylines with their individual traits; total freedom (Gertrudis), total commitment (Rosaura), and neither/ both (Tita).

There is more to it all though, maybe the story is not so much about love at all but about motivations. Tita was a celebrity to her friends as a victor in an unfair situation against Rosaura, giving her attention and validation she would not otherwise have had. If Tita left she would have lost that status, and maybe even been forgotten altogether. Then there is the question of if at all did Pedro really love Tita? Or was he using her as his forbidden fruit against the background of utter boredom in a predictable life? Tita could have moved out and Pedro could have run away with Tita before he ever married Rosaura, but he didn't even send a letter to her considering it. Maybe Pedro wasn't selfless, but childish because he used Tita to "get back" at Rosaura at every chance for being his wife. Pedro could have resented Rosaura like a teenager resents their part-time job. He never saw the good of Rosaura, even though she was the mother of his children. To me, Pedro wanted it all, he wanted the ranch from Mama Elena and he wanted to be married and single too. The book makes Pedro out to a good guy, but a character like him would be hard to respect in real life, particularly with him overtly belittling his wife as he flirted with her younger sister.

With Pedro as a husband and Tita as his "side chick", you would think that Rosaura would be more likable, but Rosaura was not so great either. The book tries its best to make Rosaura's character out to be hated. To Tita, Rosaura represents privilege, to Pedro, Rosaura represents obligation, to Rosaura, Tita represents jealousy. Together they all make each other crazy in different ways. Ultimately Rosaura takes Mama Elena's place as the youngest daughter caregiver tradition enforcer and like Mama Elena, she dies shortly after she refuses to allow her daughter to wed. The tradition seems to actually be a curse, possibly meaning that those who deny love for obligation to others are damned to die soon after. In the end, Tita and Pedro die together. Rosaura died sometime before the pair, just as she lived, in an undignified and unflattering manner. The family tradition of forced subservience onto the youngest daughter is no more. It is sad, but the overly sugarcoated fact that Rosaura was hated by her sister and husband throughout their decades-long romance.

Who is good and bad during it all? All and none, plus some in between. No one can live their life in absolutes and all decisions mean something about the person who made them, even if they decided not to decide. Tita and Pedro should have stayed together or moved apart. By not being either, their relationship is not loving but a distraction from the obligations that make up their lives. My final words about the Tita's and Pedro's out there are this; grow up! As for anyone like poor, unlikable Rosaura; let others retain their autonomy, but don't put up with a cheater either.

bottom of page