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The Role of Gender In Like Water for Chocolate and The Boarding House

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Gender plays a significant role in family and societal traditions. Some families place such a large importance on that role that it is impossible for a person to achieve his or her goals or live his or her life. Society binds people to strict standards that are difficult to avoid. In Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, Tita is forced to follow the tradition of her family. She cannot marry and is doomed to serve her mother for the rest of her life. Her two sisters, Rosaura and Gertrudis, are also effected by this tradition, but in different ways. James Joyce's collection of short stories, The Dubliners, deals with the issues of common residents of Dublin. Polly, in the short story "The Boarding House," is trapped in the societal standards of her gender. After she has an affair with a tenant her mother forces Polly to marry him. Gender related family traditions are hard to get out of because they are hard standing; societal traditions bear the judgment of everyone.

The De La Garza family tradition states that the youngest daughter in a family must take care of the mother instead of marrying. She isn't allowed to have her own life. Tita disagrees with the rigid tradition because it confines her to a life without love. She doesn't sit back and accept her position; she fights for what she wants. However, Tita doesn't question the practice to her mother. Mama Elena is the supreme authority in the household and Tita fears her. Tita refuses to accept her undesirable social role even though others accept it in her family. She doesn't have the same belief system as her family because she is raised by the cook, Nacha. Tita wins her fight against the tradition eventually gains her freedom.

Tita falls in l...

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...societal standard that girls must get married if they lose their virginity. Her mother knows this and uses it against her and Mr. Doran. Polly accepts her gender role and dreams of her future with Mr. Doran.

Both "The Boarding House" and Like Water for Chocolate deal with gender issues in society and families. The characters in "The Boarding House" quietly accept the societal standards for their gender roles and their actions whereas those in Like Water for Chocolate don't fit into the strict confinements of such ideals. As time progresses, gender roles in society evolve because people fight against them. Like Water for Chocolate personifies this idea. "The Boarding House" is simply the submission to the paradigm of society that is presented. Gender roles are only changed through individuals slowly stepping out of the strict ideal and moving forward.
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