Like Water for Chocolate Essay

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Culture is sculpted by tradition of societal values, thereby molding the lives and actions of those included in a particular cultural group. While tradition can give a feeling of regularity and comfortability, it is also a mode of suppressing desires not considered socially acceptable. Here there is a conflict between traditional principles and expression of deeper emotion and identity. The contrasting symbolism of the food in the novel raises the issue between tradition and desire. The recipes Tita prepares reflect traditional Mexican culture as well as an outlet for her unspoken emotions. She displaces her desires into each ingredient, knowing that she cannot openly release her thoughts in fear of the repercussions that would come from Mama Elena. Often in the novel, these repressed desires manifest into the outside world, unlocking similar desires of other characters. Shown in the transmittance of emotion through Tita’s food, Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate suggests that desire is buried by cultural traditions because these emotions contrast societal values. In preparation for Pedro and Rosaura’s wedding, Tita takes on the responsibility of baking the chabela wedding cake, representing marriage as it is shaped by tradition. Tita releases her feeling of heartbreak and cries over the loss of Pedro, pouring tears into the cake batter and icing mixture. Chencha tastes the icing to ensure that the taste isn’t ruined and is “overcome with an intense longing.” (35) Memories of all the weddings she has witnessed rush through her mind, overwhelming her with the yearning for a marriage of her own. After one bite of the cake, the wedding guests become intoxicated with the same longing, followed by “an acute attack of pain and frustration.” (39) The pain experienced by the guests show the hidden resentments with the traditions that have controlled their lives.

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