historical background


I noticed the feuding that goes on in the De LaGarza household mirrors the Mexican Revolution. It’s like a revolution within a revolution. As you may know, the mexican revolution was about different beliefs of different political parties on how the country should be governed. They all disagreed with each others views and fought each other for power and struggled to rule the country. The same goes for Tita’s family. Tita disagreed with Mama Elena’s traditions and hates her for enforcing them so harshly. Tita eventually comes to despise Rosaura for planning to have Esperanza care for her until death. Tita does many things to avoid these traditions and in a sense her actions can be characterized as a revolution. The death of Tita and other characters brought about change in her family. The tradition of handing down recipes from mother to daughter stopped, the youngest daughter did not have to care for her mother any more, and other changes can be noted too. Similarly, the overthrowing of the previous dictator of Mexico, Porfirio Diaz Mori, caused a revolution in the country that brought about political and social changes and put an end to previous rules and traditions of the country.

I think the use of the mexican revolution was intended by the author to make this kind of a connection to the actual story. Any thoughts or opinions?

Tita’s personality is so like that of Mama Elena’s (Stuborn and commanding) that it caused them to be constantly at odds with each other. I thought that it’s kinda like a small version of the Mexican revolution inside the house to match the one outside. As Mexican people got tired of the ditator rule in Mexico, Tita got tired of Mama Elena’s absolute power in the house. And like the people of Mexico, Tita Rebelled against Mama Elena.

The absolute power in Mexico was Diaz in the begining of the Mexican Revolution. He started out with good intentions for the Mexican people. In Tita’s home, Mama Elena is the equivalent of Diaz. She was the abosolute ruler of her house and as a mother, she had the best intentions for her daughters. She wanted her daughters to be “proper” so she had her daughters follow her rules.

Madero, who was the originator (in a way) of the Mexican Revolution is like Tita in the De La Garza family. Tita started to rebel against Mama Elena because she thought that it wasn’t right for Elena to be the law when some of her rules - such as the youngest daughter not marrying – are absolutely unfair. For those of you who don’t know, Madero was a democrate, and when he got many people to support him in the up comming election, Diaz had him imprisoned and was therefore reelected.

Like in the Revolution, Elena was not alway in control of Tita. When Tita lived with John, when Elena died, and when Tita used to speak against Elena were some of the times that Elena wasn’t in control (though unlike the revolution, there were only two powers in Tita’s life: herself, and Elena). And happily, in the end of both story and Revolution, respective rebels (Tita and the Mexican people) gained their freedom.

Also in response to Ms. White: 
This connection kind of made me realize how in real life as well as in stories, we can have a happy ending. It’s just that in real life, we often don’t see the “happy endings” because of the tragedies that occur. It’s not there there are no tragedies in stories; that’s not the case at all. When bad things happen in stories, we disregard them when we get to the happy ending. In real life, the death and distruction is very real, and when all is over and done with, a happy ending isn’t so happy at all because people have to fix and mend all the physical and emotional wounds. 

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

Big Fish
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…

There must be a purpose behind Laura Esquivel’s decision or use the Mexican Revolution as the backdrop to the story.

The Mexican Revolution is a unique aspect of Like Water for Chocolate in that it seems to be less of a theme and more of a concept. For example, some obvious themes would be love, family and food because this is what the story is about; without love or food, the story would simply not be the same. On the other hand however, even though the Mexican Revolution has a big impact on the storyline, it does not seem to affect the actual meaning of the story – the meaning and emotion would still be there if it were taking place in Mexico during another time. We therefore just see the Revolution as a concept in the background that makes life more difficult on the ranch, but we never stop to think that maybe there is a deeper meaning behind the Mexican Revolution being used, like there is with Elena’s cruelty or Tita’s food being a representation of how she feels.

The Mexican Revolution was a time of change – conflict created as the new rebels fought the old government because they disagreed with the current political situation. Similar conflict exists in the story. Elena can be seen as the old government who imposes old laws – a perfect example being her family tradition that Tita, the youngest daughter, may not marry and must look after her mother. Tita, the young rebel, falls victim to the old tradition and disagrees with Elena’s rule, which creates trouble, hostility and even death on the ranch as trouble and death were the cause of the wars going on throughout Mexico.

Furthermore, the Revolution was not the first of Mexico’s civil wars; the root extended to earlier years with the War of Reform and the War of Independence (look it up on Wikipedia), both of these wars contributing to the cause of the Revolution. Similarly, the tradition forbidding Tita to love Pedro did not start with Mama Elena: it has been in their family for many, many years. The connection between the story and the Mexican Revolution is that they both revolved around just that – a revolution. In both cases, in the main story and in the background events, everything and everyone is going through a period of change.

I think this connection might be part of the reason why this particular period of time was chosen for the story. Of course, Laura Esquivel may have selected the Revolution for a completely different reason. It’s just curious that this similarity exists, which bring us back to the reason we are here: to uncover deeper meanings and connections between the Revolution and the story to try to find a deeper meaning of why the author chose it.

By the way, something else I’m curious about is that Gertrudis, who could have done anything, ended up in the army – perhaps this too was intended by the Esquivel for the same reason as the Revolution. If anyone can offer opinions to expand on this then do so.

We must uncover the truth behind Laura Esquivel’s mysterious nuances.

{Work in progress…}

The system of time used here is written as 01/01, the first digit being the month, and the second being the year. An ** repesents an unknown date, which I will try to fill in. As I have not been able to locate a date within the book that would correspond with our understanding of it, I have made my own, beginning with the birth of Tita in 01/01 AT (after birth of Tita…) For now, Christmas has been set at 06, so I have mostly numbers instead of a lot of variables. I’ll try to find a better date for it later. Hope this helps you guys understand the book!

**/01 BT – Birth of Rosaura De la Garza
01/01 AT – Birth of Tita De la Garza
– 2 Days later, Tita’s father dies, and Mama Elna’s milk dries up
**/10 AT – Tita wins a race across the Rio Grande (implying the live near the border with the US of A)
**/15 AT – Tita saves her sisters in the carrige by taming the bolting horses
06/16 AT – Tita and Pedro Muzquiz meet at Christmas Dinner, and fall in love
– They plan to be married in 1 year
12/16 AT – Pedro and his father come to the ranch to ask for Tita’s hand
– Pedro agrees to marry Rosaura instead of Tita

{End of January, in the book}

07/17 AT – January 12th, Pedro and Rosaura are married
– Everyone at the wedding, aside from Tita and Nacha, gets very sick, and everyone barfs everywhere (XD!!!)
– Nacha dies in her sleep in the night
10/17 AT – Around this month, Pedro and Rosaura consummate their marrige

{End of Feburary, in the book}

{To be continued at a later date. I would appreciate comments or input, or even bug fixes.}

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.