As we all know, if we take a walk down history lane, women have almost always been thought as inferior to men. In this post, I will discuss two points:
1) The role of women relative to other texts studied in this course
2) The role of women in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution
1) In “Like Water for Chocolate” it is evident that female characters dominate the story. If asked to write down the names of all the significant characters in the novel, the number of females would outnumber the number of males by far.
Females: Tita, Rosaura, Mama Elena, Gertrudis, Chencha, Nacha, John’s grandmother, Esperanza, Narrator
Males: Pedro, John, Alex, Roberto
However, if we look at any other text/movie we studied this semester, we would find that the scale would usually tip to the men’s side.
T & I
Females: Iseult, Brangien, Iseult of the White Hands, Queen of Ireland
Males: Tristan, Mark, Gorvenal, Morholt, Felons x4, Frocin, Ogrin, and more
R & J
Females: Juliet, Nurse, Rosaline, Lady Capulet, Lady Montague
Males: Romeo, Benvolio, Mercutio, Lord Montague, Lord Capulet, Paris, Tybalt, the Prince, Friar Lawrence, Balthazar, and more
G & GK
Females: Lady Hautedesert, Guinevere
Males: Gawain, Arthur, Lord Hautedesert
Females: Sandra Bloom, Josephine (the fiancee), Mildred (the little girl who fell in love with Ed bloom)
Males: Ed Bloom, Will Bloom, Don Price , Karl the Giant
Days of Heaven
Females: Abby, Linda
Males: Bill, Farmer, Foremen
If most of these stories are focused on men, the dominance of female characters is a change in literature… which brings us to my next topic.
2) In “Like Water for Chocolate”, there was significant emphasis on propriety as Mama Elena always forced Tita to be a certain way. Tita was to act like the impeccable and filial daughter that will care for the mother until the day she died. Gertrudis, as I assume, was probably expected to behave similarly, minus the caring-for-mother-until-the-day-she-dies part. This was the traditional way to live. However, the society at the time was in revolutionary turmoil. The Mexican Revolution was a time of change.
As political views (and leaders) changed, so did the roles of people in society, especially women. Back then, the public opinion of women’s abilities was much less than those of men, but it was changing. Through the story, this was demonstrated when Gertrudis was given the rank of an army general. The Mexican Revolution was one of the first cases where women were given a chance to fight in a battle. Perhaps it was because Emiliano Zapata tried to encourage change during the Revolution that women were recruited into the Zapatista guerillas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_revolution#Zapatista_women), but it was enough to stimulate a whirlwind of change.
Edit: What do you think are the reasons that this particular text had a reversed ratio of female characters to male characters relative to the ratio of other texts/films we studied in the course?
What was unique and significant about the role each female played the book?
Do you think I should take over for Bev Oda? Hehe, just kidding…