Like Water for Chocolate is a tell-all tale about Tita, a girl that deprived of her love Pedro, held down by the constraints of a mother too bitter to let anyone else love, and generations of traditions based on taking care of mothers until death. Mama Elena enforces the fact that Tita will not be able to fall in love and marry because her duty falls to her to take care of her until death. Deep inside, Tita’s yearns to be free of it all – no matter how young she may be or what generations may have set for her. Heartbroken and alone, it becomes a fight to keep her forbidden love alive, while knowing that her own sister will marry her love. Examining the restraints of her love and the family honor that she has to uphold creates the hearth of how family honor can’t easily be lived up to.
Tita fights for what she wants, and since birth, she has been hooked to the kitchen. She grew up on love and she grew to know love and the kitchen go hand in hand.
“And before my great grand-mother could let out a word or even a whimper, Tita made her entrance into this world, prematurely, right there in the on the kitchen table amid the smells of simmering noodle soup, thyme, bay leaves,…Tita had no need for the usual slap on the bottom, because she was already crying as she emerged, maybe that was because she knew that it would be her lot in life to be denied marriage,” (Esquivel, 6).
Looking back at this, it can be said that Tita harbors a love that can’t be changed. She knows what she wants and fears not to go after it, even during birth, love pulled hard enough to make her feel, experience what she could not experience. Even birth could hold her back from fighting for what she wanted – love.
Another question that arises is family bounds. If given a choice, Tita will do whatever it takes for her love. She says it herself that if there was no Mama Elena, she would have run away already with her true love, Pedro.
Family honor diminishes years later when Mama Elena dies. Free of a constraint on her love, life and well-being, and free to do as she chooses, Tita has sex with her love Pedro while her fiancï¿½ John Brown is away. On both ends, it looks bad for Tita. Tita engaged to someone that loves her very much, makes it hard for her and she disowns the family name by getting married when she lost her virgin. From the other end, Tita’s love for Rosuara’s husband, Pedro, looks better for he falls short for love for Rosuara. It looks bad for Rosuara because she’s his wife and she claims that she will become the laughing stock of the town.
“I’m painfully aware of the role you put me in, when everyone on the ranch saw you weeping at Pedro’s side, holding his hands so lovingly. Do you know what that role is? Laughingstock!..I have some self-respect left! Let him go to a loose women like you for his filthy needs, but here’s the thing: in this house I intend to go on being the wife,” (Esquivel, 214).
To coincide with the darkness of it all, sex outside of marriage, a tradition that culturally is forbidden to all Spanish families creates more tension between fighting for love and carrying on family honor.
Outraged even in death, Mama Elena comes back and scolds Tita for disowning her family name. “…But nothing! What you have done has no name! You have forgotten all morality…You have blackened the name of my entire family, form my ancestors down to the cursed baby you carry in your belly,” (Esquivel, 173). Yet, Tita know that what she does is wrong, but her love for Pedro grows infinite. Even with her love for Pedro, Tita realizes that she is forced to see if love with Pedro seems to be the right choice. What seems right to her may not be, and without looking at people outside of her love with Pedro, she embarrasses the family name.
It is important to understand that once family honor is lost in an environment surrounded with infidelity, it becomes a struggle and even impossible to gain back. In Tita’s case, she lost her family honor when she had sex outside of marriage, making it know to the town. Despite this, John still wants to marry her, and it will never change the fact that she disowned the family name.
Likewise, in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Angela has sex with an unknown person. Infidelity and virginity became a deciding factor as to marriage in this Spanish town and Angela fell short. The person that took Angela’s virginity never came to light, however, Angela knew of a perfect way to restore the family honor – lying. The life of an innocent man claimed the price of her lost virginity. In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, the matter of restoring the family honor revolves around a life that became a trophy, a claim to family honor.
Angela was one of the prettiest women that Purisima del Carma, gave birth to. All the men loved her and her virginity was the biggest thing that the family could carry on their name. By the will of herself and a stranger, Angela lost it. Never to be claimed again.
Never to be pure again, Angela still married Banyardo San Roman – gave her family everything – in addition to expecting that he would marry someone pure. On her wedding night, she lost her family honor, because she failed to perform the proper way that a pure woman was to perform. “…And they taught her old wives’ tricks to feign her lost possession, so that on her first morning as a newlywed she could display open under the sun in the courtyard of her house the linen sheet with the stain of honor,” (Mï¿½rquez, 42). Sent home full of shame, her twin brothers make it a task to fulfill the family name by killing Santiago, the one tagged for this outrageous mock. Refusing from being the laughing stock of the town, and refusing to fall refuge to a mockery of the town, the brothers plot to kill, without slight consideration of the consequences.
Angela hurt a family tradition and a Spanish tradition of many centuries by losing her virginity, marrying and lying about it. On her wedding day, Angela appeared sacred to finishing what she started but her families honor depended on the last hours leading to the next morning after her marriage. “On the other hand, the fact that Angela Vicario dared put on the veil and the orange blossoms without being a virgin would be interrupted afterwards as a profanation of the symbols of purity,” (Mï¿½rquez, 46). Despite the fact that Angela was fully aware of her “lost possession,” she covered it up with no considerations to her family name. Because she covered it so carefully, she could wear a symbol that was associated with purity.
Protecting the family honor becomes the motives behind the Vicario brothers and their killing of Santiago Nasar. After Angela lost her only possession, it became the brothers’ duty to restore the family name by revenge. The brothers killed Santiago in front of everyone to show that there is no mercy, to show to everyone that the family name is restored as all the people of the town were there to bear witness to. Yet, years later, images of Santiago that day haunted them.
Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Like Water for Chocolate are displays of Spanish tradition for many years. In Like Water for Chocolate, the De la Garza family faced widespread humiliation because Tita was one to break tradition. She stepped out of line and followed her heart – despite the fact that it may have cause harm to the family name. Two things that she did caused her to lose her family name: sex outside of marriage and getting married and having a relationship when tradition rules “love” out. On the other hand, Angela did one thing which caused her to lose her families name and her lost possession. It seems however, that Angela’s family did whatever it took to make sure that family name was restored – even if it was claiming the life of someone else.
A Spanish traditions show that sex and marriage makes a family pure. When purity and honor to a family member becomes a lost possession or a boundary being tested, a tradition dating back to generations before goes sour, only to harm future generations. In this case, when family honor gets lost, it causes a generation struggle, and in the end, a life becomes a token or victory is claimed.