The Power Of Power In Laura Esquivel's Like Water For Chocolate

1973 Words 8 Pages
In his novel, Chance, author Joseph Conrad famously said, “Being a woman is a terribly difficult trade since it consists principally of dealings with men” (314). Conrad, it seems, is often correct – scores of novels focus in part, if not exclusively, on the relationship and accompanying power dynamic between men and women. For centuries, authors have explored different methods by which to more deeply probe the power struggle between men and women, as well as the power struggle between all people. One such solution is magical realism, a technique pioneered in the early to mid-twentieth century. K. Thomas Alwa Edison wrote in an article for the International Journal of Multidisciplinary Approach and Studies that magical realism was likely developed …show more content…
Throughout her entire life, Tita is forced to obey her mother’s wishes. This becomes instantly clear when Mama Elena refuses to allow Tita to marry Pedro due to her ridiculous logic that Tita must forever remain at home. While Tita sits at the kitchen, taking in her mother’s decree, Esquivel writes, “From then on they knew, she and the table, that they could never have even the slightest voice in the unknown forces that fated Tita to bow before her mother's absurd decision…” (11). Adding insult to injury, Mama Elena then proclaims that Rosaura, Tita’s sister, will marry Pedro instead, giving Rosaura an inherent power over Tita. At this point, Tita is metaphorically exiled to the kitchen, but Tita manages to, as Wendy Perkins writes in an essay for Novels for Students, turn her prison into a site of growth and expression, mainly through her magical abilities with food (201). Tita seems to regain some of her lost power, using the food she creates to express what her mother has forbidden her from speaking. At Rosaura’s wedding to Pedro, the cake that Tita baked caused all of the guests to be “flooded with a great wave of longing…” and eventually become violently ill (Esquivel 39). Tita’s power over both her sister and mother continues when she is magically able to nurse her niece and …show more content…
Wendy Perkins describes this phenomenon, explaining that the story “reveals how the kitchen can become a nurturing and creative domain, providing sustenance and pleasure for others; a site for repression, where one can be confined exclusively to domestic tasks and lose or be denied a sense of self; and a site for rebellion against traditional boundaries” (Perkins 203). From her birth, the kitchen is “Tita’s realm” – she learns, plays, and lives within its walls. Through her culinary education, Tita becomes the only member of the family who truly understands the magic of cooking. Her sisters are terrified of its unknown dangers, and her mother is too busy maintaining other elements of the ranch (Esquivel 7). This allows her to fulfill the first component of Perkins’ definition, providing sustenance. However, the kitchen also becomes a site of repression, fulfilling Perkins’ second qualification, when Tita is unable to leave it to join the “masculine” world outside by marrying. She feels that she is trapped by her mother and is unable to live her own life. Despite this entrapment, however, Tita flourishes, finding new love with Dr. Brown and a true purpose in life – so much so that even after Mama Elena’s death, Tita returns to the kitchen, not as a punishment, but as a home. In her essay for Novels for Students, Ksenija Bilbija

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