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Like Water for Chocolate: Close Reading of Chapter 5

All through the novel, Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel, Tita, the struggling protagonist wages an emotional battle with herself. Provided that the tale requires spot in early 20th century Mexico, the ideas of uncontested familial obligations and matriarchal rule have been socially accepted values. For a daughter especially, to dissent from her mother’s word was regarded outrageous. Consequently, on the a single hand, Tita feels bound to the traditionally accepted part of the youngest daughter to remain unwed so as to care for her mother, whereas on the other she holds a reciprocated passion for her older sister’s husband, Pedro. This prominent theme of filial duty versus sexual wish is accentuated all through the night meeting scene in Chapter 5, producing this passage a pivotal moment in the novel. In addition, the passage is representative of the animalistic tendencies in Tita, Pedro, and Mama Elena alike.

1st, the setting and mood developed by Esquivel lays the foundation for the passage, making an ambiance of moral tension and forbidden desire. As the night shrouds every thing in darkness, Tita finds her vision impaired each actually and figuratively, which creates confusion and tension. Adding to this is the close proximity of Pedro and Mama Elena. Although the former’s nearness heightens Tita’s sexual awareness, the latter’s presence functions to shut such feelings down. The soundscape Esquivel creates serves to complement the tension, as the “violent beating” (line 17) of Pedro’s heart mixes in with the soft sound of Tita’s footsteps. An aura of suspense ensues, in which neither character knows regardless of whether to danger embracing the other in the dead of night, whilst each Rosaura and Mama Elena are asleep only a few steps away. The mood remains static for the greater element of the passage, reaching the pinnacle of tension at Tita and Pedro’s most intimate moment when Mama Elena wakes and inquires about who is up and about. In this anti-climatic moment, the mood rapidly and rather comically—given Tita’s dual physical and emotional urges of a pressuring need to have to urinate and her longing for Pedro—changes to one particular of suppressed desire and feigned normality, as neither Tita nor Pedro is prepared to threat being located out by Mama Elena.

The structure and stylistic conventions Esquivel employs also function to reflect the significance of this passage as a turning point. The dual narrative, whereby the third person point of view consistently switches amongst Pedro and Tita gives an anxious really feel to the passage. This alternation, combined with the continuous use of indefinite articles and vivid, sensuous diction emphasizes the value of Tita to Pedro. Additionally, it furthers the operating motifs of the novel, such as food and its sexual symbolism, through the “jasmine and cooking odor” (line 15), provided off by Tita, which enraptures Pedro. This theme is further alluded to as Pedro is “eating a slice of watermelon and thinking of Tita” (line ten) in that, when the situations of food and love are combined, the conceit of food as an erotic symbol is created evident. In addition, the antithetical theme of filial obligations against raw adore is conveyed through the use of adjectives such as “timidly” (line 24) and “fearful” (line 26), indicating the emotional confusion Tita feels, as she is caught between loving Pedro, and remaining obedient to her mother.

When Tita and Pedro finally meet in the dark, the aural and the olfactory, which are currently animal senses, give way to the tactile as Tita is shocked to “feel somebody pull her” (line 20) towards them. Esquivel writes that the evening is so dark that not even a “glimmer of light” (line 7) remained, signifying a lack of vision, which subsequently serves to heighten their option senses, providing a far more attentive and animalistic aura to each characters. Strong and evocative sexual imagery is then applied as Pedro and Tita discover each other, Tita “timidly touch(ing)” (line 24) Pedro, even though he “invit(es) her to discover his body” (line 24). This moment when erotic tactile images are utilised is their most heightened instance of connection.

The scene’s literary devices aid to portray Tita and Pedro’s paradoxical attraction and affliction. Pedro’s line of believed exemplifies the characters’ conflicted feelings: as he “couldn’t sleep considering of her there, a couple of methods from him…and from Mama Elena, as well, of course” (line 12). The use of ellipses here suggests better than words the ever-lingering presence of Mama Elena, be it actual or subconscious. Whenever Pedro lets his thoughts wander, he somehow manages to encounter Mama Elena. Later, when he realizes that this is an opportune, but inconvenient, moment to meet Tita, he approaches her “quiet as a cat” (line 16). The simile furthers Pedro’s animal persona, as he tends to make his way towards Tita, his desired mate, which parallels their locating their way to one particular an additional utilizing hearing and smell. Elena then utters a “cry” (line 26) out of the evening, in this case a howl of warning, yet another instance of animal tendencies in the passage. This is also accurate of the obstacles they encounter. No matter how close they get to each and every other, the alpha female of the familial troop, Mama Elena, usually manages to divide the two, and enforce her pecking order in the household, therefore reiterating the conflicting themes of nature versus society, and typifying the two lovers’ relationship throughout the novel.

The passage also acts as a pivotal moment in character and plot development simply because it is the first time that Tita and Pedro physically embrace every other, in spite of the close proximity of both Rosaura and Mama Elena. It is at this point that, even though Mama Elena has no concrete proof of their infidelity, bases her assessment of the scenario wholly on instinct, one more animalistic trait. Considerably, she realizes that as long as Tita and Pedro are near each and every other, it will be futile to attempt to maintain them apart. As a result, she speeds up Rosaura and Pedro’s departure for Texas, seeing it as the only way to maintain conventional and socially acceptable behavior in her home. This is also the only scene in which Tita and Pedro are capable to embrace every single other, guilt free of charge, and with no concern other than each other, apart from at the conclusion and resolution of the novel. It is a time when their enjoy is pure and entire, albeit tense, and they can, briefly, fully express themselves. This offers a contrast to Pedro’s returning later on to discover Tita feeling bitter about his departure and in the arms of Dr. Brown. The meeting acts as a confirmation of mutual adore, by means of which Tita and Pedro authenticate their feelings for a single an additional. This is much more considerable than it may very first appear as, earlier on, Tita was unsure about Pedro’s motives for marrying her sister, and his indecisiveness about how to act around her.

Furthermore, the conflict amongst filial commitment and erotic/romantic love is epitomized in this scene. Tita and Pedro discover themselves attracted to each other however concomitantly driven apart. Even when they do overcome their fears with regards to social conformity and maternal oppression, they discover Mama Elena, as constantly, the domineering force making certain their love can not be openly expressed or consummated. In keeping with the general course of the story, Tita is as soon as again forced to “endure her desire” (line 31) throughout a “tortured night” (line 31). Bent on enforcing her code of ethics in the residence, Mama Elena ensures that the two keep to their commitments, Tita to her and Pedro to Rosaura. This is the dominant theme for the 1st half of the novel, up till Mama Elena’s paralysis.

Therefore, we can see that this scene, in which Tita and Pedro lastly confront every single other in the dead of night, virtually inside arms attain of Mama Elena and Rosaura, only to be interrupted by Mama Elena, typifies the central dramatic conflict of the novel. The passage should be noticed as a pivotal moment in the novel as it is the only moment, save for the novel’s final scene, in which Tita and Pedro are in a position to momentarily express their passion for one one more. It is also the moment when Mama Elena realizes that her past, present and future attempts at maintaining the two apart will be in vain so extended as they are close to every single other. As a result she ensures Pedro leaves for Texas the morning following, even though Tita has no other option other than to return to her typical routines as laid out for her by her oppressive mother. Tita and Pedro’s encounter is also emblematic of the general course of the novel as, even although they finally manage to embrace every other, they should do so with meticulous caution and are virtually immediately frustrated by Mama Elena.

This mix of innocent love and raw passion observed in this passage will not be repeated till the really end of the novel. Each and every other time Tita and Pedro meet right after this point, a certain jealousy or resentment or confusion is constantly sown into their other feelings of passion, hence emphasizing the intensity and importance of this night meeting.



Appendix – Passage

From her hammock Tita heard somebody get up for a chunk of watermelon. This awakened in her the urge to go to the bathroom. She had been drinking beer all day long, not to cool off, but to make more milk to nurse her nephew.

He was sleeping peaceful next to her sister. Acquiring up in the dark, she couldn’t see a factor – there wasn’t a glimmer of light. She was walking towards the bathroom, trying to remember where the hammocks have been she didn’t want to stumble into anybody.

Pedro, sitting in his hammock, was eating a slice of watermelon and considering of Tita. Getting her so near made him really feel a tremendous excitement. He couldn’t sleep considering of her there, a handful of methods from him… and from Mama Elena, too, of course. He heard the sound of footsteps in the shadows and stopped breathing for a few moments. It had to be Tita, her distinctive fragrance wafted towards him on the breeze, a mixture of jasmine and cooking odours that was hers alone. For a moment he thought that Tita has got up to appear for him. The sound of her approaching footsteps blended with the violent beating of his heart. But no, the steps were moving away from him, to the bathroom. Pedro got up, quiet as a cat, and followed her.

Tita was surprised to really feel someone pull her towards him and cover her mouth, but she realized who it was quickly and didn’t provide any resistance as the hand very first slid down her neck to her breasts and then explored her complete physique.

Whilst she was getting a kiss on the lips, Pedro took her hand in his and invited her to explore his physique. Tita timidly touched the tough muscle tissues on Pedro’s arms and chest reduce down, she felt a red-hot coal that throbbed via his clothing. She removed her hand, frightened not by her discovery but by a cry from Mama Elena.

‘Tita, where are you?’

‘Right right here, Mami, I’m going to the bathroom.’

Fearful that her mother would suspect one thing, Tita hurried back to the bed where she passed a tortured evening, enduring her wish to urinate along with yet another urge. Her sacrifice didn’t do a bit of great: the following day, Mama Elena – who for a whilst seemed to have changed her thoughts about sending Pedro and Rosaura to Texas – speeded up her plans for their departure three days later they had left the ranch.

Like Water For Chocolate,

Laura Esquivel,

Translation by Carol Christensen and Thomas Christensen

Black Swan Books

1993
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