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Extract From Like Water For Chocolate English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1837 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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She didn’t know why she had to think about such unpleasant things at a time like this, which was supposed to be the happiest time of her life, nor why she had to feel so irritable. Perhaps Pedro had infected her with his bad temper. Since they returned to the ranch and he found out that Tita was thinking of marrying John, he had possessed by the furies. You couldn’t say so much as a word to him. He went out very early and rode around the ranch, his horse gallop. He returned at nightfall, just in time for supper, and shut himself in his room immediately afterward.

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Nobody had an explanation for his behaviour; some believed the thought of not having any more children hut him deeply. Whatever it was, it seemed his rage dominated the thoughts and actions of everyone in the house. Tita was literally “like water for chocolate”- she was on the verge of boiling over. How irritable she was! Even the cooing she loved so much- the sound made by the doves she has re-established under the roof of the house, a sound that had given her so much pleasure since her return- even that noise was annoying. She felt her head about to burst, like a kernel of popcorn. To prevent that from happening, she pressed both her hands against it hard. A timid tap on her shoulder made her jump; she felt an urge to punch whoever it was, surely someone who wanted to take up more of her time. What a surprise it was to see Chencha standing in front of her. The Chencha of old, smiling and happy. Never in her life had Tita been so delighted to see her, not even when Chencha had visited her in John’s house. As usual Chencha had dropped from the sky just when Tita needed her the most.

It was amazing to see the recovery Chencha had made, after the state of misery and despair in which she had left.

No signs remained of the trauma she has suffered. The man who had managed to erase them was standing at her side, with a huge honest smile on his face. From a distance, Tita could tell she was dealing with a decent, quiet man; though Chencha didn’t let him open his mouth any farther than to say “Jesus Martinez at your service.”


The extract begins with a sense of pondering over inner feelings and a tone of quandary. The use of ‘she’ as part of the third person narration, at the beginning of the sentence and repeated throughout the sentence, allows us to believe that the mentioned is an essential character, featuring throughout the story. The importance of this extract lies in the fact that, in one extract we are presented with the problem as well as the solution at the same time. The main theme that this extract deals with is that of an estranged relationship between these two character s, who were essentially in love. The theme of ambiguity and a constant state of not knowing runs as an undercurrent throughout the extract. Several relationships are established across the extract, including the ones between Tita and her ‘doves’ as well as between Tita and Chencha. The narration is constantly maintained as that of third person. From the extract, Tita appears to be a character who builds up to immense frustration within her. Pedro, who also takes in on the unresponsive behaviour, shares this confusion. John appears to be a minor character essentially, although Tita is thinking about marrying him, she attributes a major part of her life only to Pedro. Tita’s affection and complete delight on seeing Chencha characterizes her to be someone who is very happy and soothing.

The very first sentence presents an ambiguity, a conflict between emotions and situations, where they both contradict each other. She is obviously feeling unhappy at a time of a happy, joyous situation. The second person introduced in the extract is Pedro, and he is introduced with the use of the alliteration, perhaps Pedro” that adds another element of doubt and ambivalence. The sentence itself, establishes a relationship between Pedro and Tita and the use of the word “infected” could be used to establish a closer relationship between the two. The idea of returning to the ranch, suggests the occurring of an event in the past, which was unfavorable. The third sentence presents the problem and introduces the third character John. The idea of Pedro being affected by Tita, even “thinking” of marrying John, re-establishes the kind of relationship Tita and Pedro shared. The use of “furies” – bodies of women with wings, adds to the effect. The next few sentences go on to highlight the turmoil in Pedro’s behaviour and outlined how his days went by in a complete haze. The use of the “horse at a gallop” brings back to the readers mind, the incident of Gertrudis running away with a man on a horseback fully naked. This further presents an idea of a possible future escape.

The state of mind that Pedro is in, is brought out through actions rather than displaying his emotions straight forward. The reason for this could be to bring out Tita’s emotions through his actions. This can be made out from the simple and straight forward diction, “He returned at nightfall, just in time for supper, and shut himself in his room immediately afterward.” When the narrator mentions that no one was aware why Pedro behaved that way and could only guess the reason, there is a hint that this is from a feminist’s point of view. A food metaphor is used to describe Tita’s emotions and state of mind. This shows how deep Tita’s relationship with the food is and how it is an essential part of her life. “Tita was literally “like water for chocolate”-she was on the verge of boiling over. This is the first time the title of the book is used. It is in the syntactic form of a simile. It indicates the cooking method of melting chocolate where one needs to keep in control of the boiling water. When the water boils it reaches a peak, and that peak or rather ‘verge of boiling over’ describes the feeling that Tita goes through when she finds John uncertain after the talk of their marriage. The phrase, ‘like water for chocolate’ implies her desperation, uneasiness, her annoyance and anger through one aspect of her life that makes her dominant. “How irritable she was!” the use of this short exclamation only enhances the effect of the phrase and continues to bring in a sense of tension towards a problem. The emphasis of the situation is highlighted more when the narrator directly mentions how much this has effected Tita through the things that gave her ‘pleasure’ were now a medium of annoyance, and that is the ‘cooing’ and the ‘sound made by the doves’. The pauses made in the middle of each idea for example, “Even the cooing she loved so much-” or “-even that noise was annoying.” The pause elaborates on the tension and act as mediums to sustain and make the problem seem important.

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Another food metaphor is related to the circumstances that Tita is going through and this time relating physically, “She felt her head about to burst, like a kennel of popcorn.” The use of this metaphor also tends to create a visual effect for the reader. When the spell of ‘like water for chocolate’ is about to break , the author adds an intense action, an action of almost suspense which makes the situation reach to its peak. Chencha brings in a sense of relief and excitement which tends to lightened the situation automatically. “The Chencha of old, smiling and happy.” , the syntax of this sentence is twisted which is said to emphasize on one word and that is ‘old’, therefore the author tends to move it from its original place to make the reader grab attention or rather hesitate when saying it. It is obvious that Chencha is used as medium of relief and destruction of all Tita’s problems as Tita mentions it was not the first time Chencha was able to bring that relief.

The solution of the problem was not given by Chencha’s visit but the fact that she could make Tita get rid of all the miseries but then just one gesture solved Tita’s problem and that was Jesus Martinez. The feeling he brings in Tita’s nerves, shows a sense of history and in a positive way. By using alliteration in the phrase, “a huge honest smile” concentrates on the enormous difference that she feels through just a pure gesture.

The extract is in third person, but still it seems to be from Tita’s point of view establishing her as a protagonist. The tone throughout the extract varies, it starts off with hints of problem and restlessness through Tita’s emotions and then the tension is reached its peak when Tita is deeply affected by Pedro’s actions and hits a mind state of misery. This tone of tension changes into suspense when there is ‘a timid tap’ on Tita’s shoulder and then falls down to a tone of joy and relief.

This extract is able to create a harsh situation through Tita’s emotions and state of mind, the fact that she is considering marriage just adds confusion to her head through visual imageries. Pedro’s straight forward actions can be compared to the extremeness of Tita’s feelings, where food is used as a metaphor to describe her condition physically through vivid visual images. The narration aspect hints to be rather from a feminist point of view, especially portraying Pedro to be weak and hid himself away and not understanding his state of mind. The food metaphors also bring out a sense of culture with conveying her emotional conditions. The extract ends on a positive note and Tita’s miseries have been erased and the author uses two character’s appearance as a medium for that. The theme of marriage and women against men is portrayed in this extract. It is mentioned that Tita has returned to the ‘ranch’ which shows a sense of history that is attached with it and also mentioning Pedro enhances that. This extract is a representation of Tita’s state of mind when she is back to the ranch and all the new restless feelings that have taken over her and they start to diminish by the end of the extract. “No signs remained of the trauma she had suffered.” Although the talk is about marriage, never an emotion of love is portrayed by either the narration or Tita’s emotions but towards the end of the extract when Tita sees Jesus Martinez, the emotion of love is felt through her sense of relief and joy. This extract is able to convey a sense of women dominance and the cultural moment of the plot through the food metaphors and the setting of ranch, it’s almost like a short story which begins which confusion and ends of a note of comfort.


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