Like Water for Chocolate: A Multicultural Analysis

Culture has a way of touching the hearts of many. For the longest time, people have often attributed to their success to the lives they had in the past. On the other hand, there were those few who opted to use their lives and culture to make it big in this world. Laura Esquivel’s novel, “Like Water for Chocolate” was one of those few that mirrored the life of the Spanish during the Mexican Revolution. Such has led to the conclusion that the culture of the Spanish, more specifically the Mexicans, have evolved and improved through the years.

Such thought has allowed me to believe that culture and tradition have played an important role in shaping the lives of the Spanish, more specifically the Mexicans. This paper aims to show the readers the evolution of culture through the eyes of a novel. The simple story illuminated by “Like Water for Chocolate” has opened more doors for people of all ages. The intricate details given by the film has allowed the viewers to see that even the people during the earlier times experience the feelings that we have towards life and the people we love most.

The challenges and struggles experienced by many during that time have paved way for our culture to be honed and shaped accordingly. As time passed by the way culture and tradition were handled brought a new light to people. The revolution was only one of the many trying moments people had at that time; what was more challenging was how they would be able to live an ideal life for their children to follow. It is definitely important to have culture and tradition preserved and imbibed in the lives of people for as long as possible. The comparison and analysis set for this particular essay begins with the Mexican Revolution.

Fighting for their beliefs came as a practice of the Mexicans, which was passed from one generation to the other. One of the most famous was the Mexican Revolution that occurred from 1910-1920. Everyone seemed involved in the said revolution, with the Upper and Middle classes opposing the ways of the president. There were numerous plans set for the people when the government started, however these were all put to waste when the country suffered greatly. Majority of the people were struggling with the current economy, while the people in position earned more money (Davies, n.

d. ). The novel was focused on the life of Tita de lsa Garza, a fifteen year old teenager, who lived with her mother and sisters on a ranch in Mexico. She fell in love with Pedro, instantly after meeting him outside their house. The two young individuals were in love with each other and wanted a life together. In so doing, Pedro adhered to what tradition required of them, and went to Tita’s house to talk to her family and ask her hand in marriage. Unfortunately, Tita was the youngest in her family and could not marry while both parents were still alive.

She had the obligation of serving her parents and other unmarried family members, and the responsibility of catering to all of their needs. The novel revolves on how Tita would go through her difficulties in life, coping with the war, and living a life while witnessing the lover of her life form a family with her sister. In any aspect, family and religion are considered sacred and important in the Mexican culture. Since family was important, the children were brought up in the manner wherein they feared their parents and had respect for the elderly (Indigo Guide, n. d. ).

This culture of the Mexicans was clearly seen in the novel, for every time Mama Elena asked Tita to do something, she had no choice but to follow her mother. The same incident was seen when Mama Elena asked Tita to stay away from her brother-in-law so that her elder sister, Rosaura, would be accommodated accordingly. In addition to this, Mexican culture also dictated that the youngest children could not marry for they had the obligation of caring for their parents. The whole story reminded Tita of all her familial obligations, which also served as hindrance to her unconditional bliss.

In addition to this, the novel took this factor into great credit and became one of the central ideas of the story. Known to many, Tita had a talented hand in the kitchen. This was also greatly tested by the numerous parties and celebrations the people in their town had. Mexicans have a unique taste for culture, which includes dining and dancing. Food is often a combination of corn, beans, and different types of chili (Culture of Mexico, 2007). As the novel would have it, the story involves a great deal of food, including its preparation.

Like how the Mexicans would do it, much detail was given about food in the novel. Some of the important scenes in Tita’s life happened in the kitchen, which helped readers understand the story further. Tita’s connection with food was somewhat extraordinary in the eyes of many. For some apparent reason, she was able to concoct dishes that would appease practically anyone. What is more surprising is the fact that Tita’s emotions were greatly exhibited in the food she makes. The particular emotion she feels at a particular moment was felt by the people who taste her food.

Take for example the circumstances that happened during Rosaura and Pedro’s wedding. While making the cake, Tita was filled with grief and pain for losing Pedro to her sister. She kept her thoughts to herself while making the cake, which she thought did not have any effect on the finished product. However, Tita’s thoughts and emotions were greatly felt by the people who ate the cake she made. For no reason at all, the guests started to feel great loss and pain towards the people they love most. In this manner, viewers are given the impression of how important food is in the lives of the Mexicans.

The author had a way of intertwining reality with realism through this particular connection. As mentioned earlier, the Mexicans have a strong sense of connection for food and celebrations. In this regard, they had numerous celebrations that happened all year round. This may be come as a support to the festivities that families have every now and then. The Mexican culture has always been attributed to the respect that they have for family and religion, and in so doing, they celebrate the important dates in the liturgical calendar.

Feast days of saints and other liturgical activities are interconnected with the other annual activities of Mexicans (Historical Perspective on a Traditional Mexican wedding, 2009). All throughout the novel, importance was given to religious events and festivities. Regardless of the Mexican revolution, people still had enough reason to smile and celebrate. Tita, on the other hand, never doubted everything that was given to her. Despite of her position in the family, Tita tried to enjoy and have fun by spending time in the kitchen.

Her passion for cooking has somewhat kept her life balanced regardless of all the difficulties included herein. With a culture as rich as the Mexicans, there is no doubt that Mexicans have a way of shining in a crowd. Regardless of their current situation, Mexicans still have enough will to come out celebrate life. In so doing, they also engage in other activities, such as dancing. The Mexican Hat Dance was considered to be the courting dance in Mexico. This dance was created during the time of the Mexican revolution – the same time the novel, “Like Water for Chocolate” was set.

At first, the dance included numerous singing and dancing from the crowd, and was considered to be an expression of fashion. From a modern individual’s perspective, the attire worn by the dancers were considered as costumes; however, these were the clothes that the people wore in the 1800’s and in the 1900’s. The dance was normally attributed to servants who were trying to have fun, which has become one of the most important dances in the history of Mexico (The Mexican Hat Dance, 2007). As mentioned earlier, dances have played an important role in the culture of the Mexicans, which was also seen in the novel.

For the most part, these were also described in the novel, as an important part of the story. The celebrations became a way of balancing Tita’s complicated life; showing readers that she was just like any other normal individual. Furthermore, the Mexican Hat Dance was also considered as a courtship dance among attracted individuals. In this regard, we see the kind of creativity that may blossom through dancing. The kind of rapport that may be seen between two individuals may also be considered important in a budding relationship.

Dancing is like going through life with music. In this regard, couples would be able to learn the difficulties that may be attributed to the life that they are planning ahead of them. Courtship is one of the most important parts in the lives of people. It is in this practice that the Mexicans form an impression of respect and love for each other. For the longest time, Mexicans can choose their own partners. Courtship during the Mexican revolution was not given much importance; however we see a reflection in the novel, which would also serve as a basis.

In this regard, the Mexican courtship would entail the gentleman to come to the lady’s home to ask permission from the parents. This is normally accompanied by the numerous plans the gentleman may have for the lady in the event that they marry and start a family of their own. As seen in the novel, the gentleman would have to receive the blessing of the lady’s family before he is to be accepted as a boyfriend, or even as a husband. As for Tita’s case, the Pedro specifically asked for her hand in marriage, but was rejected by Mama Elena because of familial obligations.

To make it simpler, asking a lady’s hand in marriage or as a girlfriend would have to be approved by the parents or the elders first, for there are also familial rules to be followed. The present day situation does not necessarily practice this kind of tradition. There are some who still have to struggle with what tradition expects from them, and there are those people who have learned to adapt with what the current situation deems from them. Nowadays, there are still some people who would opt for the traditional way rather than the modern way.

The traditional way of courtship would have the parents agree with the type of guy or lady their children go out with. However, the modern and American way would opt for the simple thought of “I support you in whatever you want”. For short, the parents would just go with what their children want, and the things that could make their children happy. On the other hand, the gentleman must still show his true emotions, interests, and plans for his lady love in front of the family in order to gain their blessing (Courtship, Weddings, and Marriage in Mexican-American Culture, pp. 2-3) . This simple

However, much respect is also given to the rules of families regarding marriage. Before marriage is allowed, the couple is given a formal engagement, which would last until the couple decides to marry. From the age of 12, Mexicans may already marry. However, there are still other factors to consider before marriage can be done. In the earlier times, the marriage was normally based on the financial stability of the families other than love. However, this was not always the case. Furthermore, extravagant parties are held after the religious celebrations to honor family and friends (Culture of Mexico, 2007).

In this regard, the novel was able to present the numerous problems that may arise during fixed marriages. From the start of the film, it was evident that Tita was the love of Pedro’s life. However, Tita’s familial obligations prohibited them from being together. To make matters worse, Pedro only married Rosaura to be close to his beloved Tita. In this light, the union between the two was not considered to be genuine. Regardless of the fact that Pedro was able to provide for his family, his heart was not with Rosaura. All the while, Tita was still the love of Pedro’s life and vice versa.

No matter how hard they try to forget each other, the bond becomes stronger and stronger as time passed by. This was a harsh reality that was seen in the olden days. People had rights of their own, but these were still limited with what their parents wanted for them. No matter how old they were or how intelligent they may be, people still had to follow what their elders tell them to do. Unless they want to be banished and disowned in the family, like what happened to Tita’s sister, Gertrudis. As of the present, these practices have been altered through the years.

Marriage is no longer bound by the financial stability of the families, but the love and devotion couples may have for each other. In so doing, more importance was given to the sanctity of marriage among Mexicans. Monogamy would no longer come as a difficult phase in a married couple’s relationship. In addition to this, the rate of divorce in the country also decreased in the 1990’s (Culture of Mexico, 2007). From everything that has been stated, it may be observed that culture plays an important role in the lives of Mexicans.

Regardless of what time line Mexicans are, their identifying mark in society would always be the life they had and the different accomplishments they contributed to society.

Works Cited

Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate. USA: Double Day Publishing, 1992. “Courtship, Weddings, and Marriage in Mexican-American Culture. ” Michigan State University. 13 April 2009 < https://www. msu. edu/~vanlooka/mexican_american. pdf>. “Mexico, Culture and Traditions. ” n. d. Indigo Guide: Your Online Travel Companion. 13 April 2009 <http://www. indigoguide. com/mexico/culture.

htm>. “Culture of Mexico. ” 2007. Countries and Their Cultures. 13 April 2009 < http://www. everyculture. com/Ma-Ni/Mexico. html>. “Historical Perspective on a Traditional Mexican Wedding. ” 2009. Info Bay Area. 13 April 2009 < http://www. muybueno. net/articles/mexicanwedding. htm>. “The Mexican Hat Dance. ” 2007. The Mexican Folkoric Dance Company of Chicago. 13 April 2009 < http://www. mexfoldanco. org/jarabe. shtml>. Davies, Lynn. “The Mexican Revolution: An Overview. ” Arizona University. 13 April 2009 <http://www. ic. arizona. edu/ic/mcbride/ws200/mex-davi. htm>