However, in Like Water for Chocolate, instead of Mama Elena trying to protect her daughters virginity, she instead ends the mother and daughter relation with Gertrudis. Whilst Garcia Marquez criticizes the characters actions of losing their virginity, Esquivel finds it natural for a woman not to be a virgin before her marriage. Life still goes on even though a character is not a virgin. This is supported by Gertrudis’s action when she is taken away and loses her virginity with the captain she fled with. Nevertheless, when Gertrudis’s mother finds out that she is not a virgin anymore and ran away, burning off her heat with Juan, Mama Elena burns “Gertrudis’s birth certificate and all of her pictures and said she didn’t want to hear her name mentioned ever again” (55). Burning the birth certificate shows their end in mother and daughter relation. Unlike the Chronicles of Death Foretold, Esquivel does not consider the significance of religion in the Latin American and Mexican society. This implies how Esquivel does not take religious matters seriously like Garcia Marquez who illustrates the consequences of ignoring a religious law.
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Another ironical aspect in the Chronicle of Death Foretold is how the women’s know that being a virgin in the Latin American culture is important before they marry, but in the novel, Angela and her friends discuss how to “fake virginity” (91). Garcia Marquez criticizes the women’s actions on how they are deceiving their tradition and people. Another ironical aspect is how the prostitutes are viewed in this novel. For example, when Prostitute Maria Alejandrina sleeps with both the narrator and Santiago Nasar is not a problem in this town even though she is not a virgin, the society does not see it as an abnormal action and does not look down on them even though she isn’t a virgin. Women’s virginity is also criticized through religious matters. Garcia Marques mocks on the concept of virginity when a bullet hits the statue of Virgin Mary. In the Latin American culture Virgin Mary is a symbol of virginity and purity.
Even though, Garcia Marquez implies the significance of religion in his novel, however, in the novel, Like Water for Chocolate, a women’s virgin is viewed from a different perspective through the character’s development. After the incident where Chencha is raped she says, “You all know how men are, they won’t eat off a plate that isn’t clean.” This was her view about men’s behavior, that they are willing to marry a woman who is a virgin, someone who is “clean”. She thought that she could not imagine a content marriage after being treated so horribly and envisioned one like Tita’s; a lonely life, where she is not able to marry the person she loves. However, it was a surprise when Chencha came back to the village with her new husband, even though she was not a virgin. The narrator states that “It didn’t matter to him that Chencha wasn’t a virgin; he married her right away,” even though “Chencha’s folk had been flatly opposed to their marriage”. This implies Esquivel’s view on how true love can be overcome by any obstacles; in this case, lack of virginity, a woman’s purity is not important.
Mainly through the use of irony, Garcia Marquez criticizes women’s virginity in the Latin American society; where in her novel virginity holds a higher value than in Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Esquivel, through the characters implies that life can continue even if the woman is not a virgin, such as Chencha and Gertrudis’s action. Compared to the past, in the western societies nowadays, being a virgin or not a virgin does not hold a great significance in their culture, like marrying a woman with a child. In contrast, in the Asian societies, it is less acceptable for a woman to not be a virgin before her marriage, as parents do not allow their child to sleep with another person; they find it unethical to do so.
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“Angela dared put on the veil and the orange blossom without being a virgin would be interpreted afterwards as a profanation of symbols of purity” (41), orange blossom promotes the feeling of innocence, eternal love, marriage and fruitfulness. (Narrator talking about the town’s opinions of Angela’s wedding and loss of virginity) This shows that although men are allowed to have sex before marriage in the religion, it is considered a “profanation of the symbols of purity” if a woman has sex before marriage and then wears a veil when getting married. Although “everyone is created equal in God’s eyes”, the women are clearly held at a double standard in this regard.
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