War Rages On in Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

War Rages On in Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

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War Rages On in Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Although wars are waged for many reasons, ultimately, wars are fought for one

reason; freedom. It is no different in Laura Esquivel's magical realism Like Water for

Chocolate. Just as this novel is staged during the time of the Mexican Revolution of

1910-1917, another war rages on in the confines of a family ranch and in the lives of the

people who dwell there. Esquivel cleverly uses the backdrop of the war to explore the

individual lives and their struggle to attain the revolution's goal for themselves;


"War is Hell," a famous, yet simple quote from General William T. Sherman in

another great civil war, is accurate in this story as Tita the youngest daughter of Mama

Elena finds that her own life is hell, while living under the rule of her tyrannical mother.

Though her mother keeps Tita from marrying the love of her life (Pedro) and living

in that joyous communion, Tita eventually becomes victorious in her pursuit of love and

her journey toward self realization. She is forbidden to marry because of a long held

family tradition enforced by her mother and Tita not only finds herself in conflict with

her mother, sister and her lover but also within her own existence.

The rigid family tradition that the youngest daughter is to remain unmarried in

order to care for her mother in old age becomes a thorn in Tita's flesh. Her unwillingness

to accept this undesirable assignment causes her to become a rebel against the abuse, pain

and fear her mother inflicts upon her. Her cause is evident; injustice. Tita is willing to

commit herself to fight against a life of injustice, a life that confines her to a life without

love. Though Tita submits to the demanding regimen her mother sets for her daily

through unending chores, she has an inner strength that fuels her purpose to continue to

fight for generation of daughters to come.

Tita uses an unexpected weapon to achieve her goal of victory; food. She realizes

the power that food offers her. The first experience of this power is wielded at the

wedding of her sister Rosaura and Tita's forbidden lover. At conflict with her sister for

accepting the marriage proposal from Pedro, angered and hurt by Pedro's decision to

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submit rather than fight valiantly for her, Tita pours her tears and emotions into the

food she is forced to prepare for their wedding. The result is a violent display of

vomiting and a terrible sense of loss and sadness among all the wedding guests as they

partake of the wedding cake. This may very well be Tita's initial victory of the many

battles she encounters in this war.

Explosions are necessary at times during war to gain ground against the enemy

and advance toward victory. When Tita is taught how to make matches from the loving

and caring Dr. John Brown, she also learns the theory that an inner fire burns in each

person. He explains to her his ideas about this internal box of matches and how each one

contains the explosions necessary for an individual to live and how one must protect this

inner fire. This theory helps Tita understand her own situation and in her thoughts she

realizes that she knew what set off her explosions, but each time she had managed to light

a match, it had persistently been blown out. Tita slowly emerges from a traumatized

event resulting after Rosaura and Pedro are forced to move from the family ranch and

their infant son dies from the absence of Tita's nurturing. She is asked by John Brown her

reason for not talking during this time of loss and grief. She writes the words: Because I

don't want to. (118) The answer reveals her strong will and it is those words that catapult

her toward freedom. But more importantly the match is lit and it continues to burn.

Many times in war, those who fight in the conflict experience anger, fear and

grief. Whether many die or survive in war, one thing is certain, liberation is shared by

many more. Tita paved the way for her niece, Esperanza to experience the joys of love

and marriage though she sacrificed her own life in the process. With the death of Mama

Elena and Rosaura, both Tita and Esperanza experience freedom from the power of those

who would deny their pursuit of love and happiness. People throughout history have

opposed wars and the reasons for it. In the end if people are liberated and the sanctity of

life is protected so they may live peaceably and entitled to pursue happiness, then there is

no argument against war. If Momma Elena were allowed to marry the love of her life

there would not have been the antagonism against her youngest daughter, tradition or not.

Sometimes our own personal struggles are taken out on those we love in the form

of displaced anger and bitterness. The result is devastating and murderous, just as Tita

once realized that her mother was slowly killing her. In Like Water for Chocolate,

Esquivel successfully reveals in the end that love prevails and on a more interesting note

perhaps love is the true weapon.
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