Study Guide

Like Water for Chocolate Family

By Laura Esquivel

Family

"You know perfectly well that being the youngest daughter means you have to take care of me until the day I die." (1, 22)

Wait, what? This is the first time we're made aware of this De la Garza rule, and we gotta say, it's pretty awful. From this moment on, we know Tita's road will not be paved with walnuts and chilies.

"You don't have an opinion, and that's all I want to hear about it. For generations, not a single person in my family has ever questioned this tradition, and no daughter of mine is going to be the one to start." (1, 27)

Ah, la familia. Much like Mexico at the time, Mama Elena's reign is most definitely a dictatorship. Basically, Tita and her sisters have to obey their mom or face her wrath.

Mama Elena took comfort in the hope that she had finally managed to subdue her youngest daughter. (1, 38)

The more we read, the more uncomfortable we get about these female relationships. While most of us may have problems with our mothers, our issues don't really compare to what's going on between Tita and Mama E.

"Then Pedro, why aren't you taking the child to his mother? Children shouldn't be away from their mothers." (4, 262)

True, but what about the fathers? Why don't they need to be around the children, huh? And while we're on the subject, didn't Mama E stay far away from Tita when she was a kid? Just sayin'…

"He isn't even your own son. Imagine how pretty you will look with one of your own." (4,272)

Here, Dr. Brown tells Tita she'll make a cute mama one day. Foot in mouth, doc. Poor guy didn't realize Tita will probably never have a son, or marry.

For Tita [Mama Elena] had made an exception; she had been killing her a little at a time since she was a child, and she still hadn't quite finished her off. (3, 162)

Is this supposed to be taken literally or figuratively? And what kind of mother tries to kill her own daughter? Is Mama E really that cruel?

In her laboratory, John had passed most of his childhood and adolescence. (6, 388)

This is in reference to Morning Light, John's Indigenous grandmother. Again, we see how the children spend most of their time with mothers or mother figures, and that the father is absent (in both Mexican and North American cultures).

[Chencha'd] heard talk since she was a child about bad things that happen to women who disobey their parents and masters and leave the house. (7, 434)

Family=fear. Is this true only for women? Only in Mexican culture? What bad things could happen to women if they leave the house?

And so Esperanza would be the only child, the youngest child, and worst of all, a girl. (8, 494)

Nooooo. The worst thing to be in the De la Garza family, especially when Rosaura decides to continue the dreaded tradition. So much for the name "Hope."

Life would be much nicer if one could carry the smells and tastes of the maternal home wherever one pleased. (9, 591)

Umm, maybe the smells and tastes, but we're not sure about the memories. In our humble opinion, the best part about living on the ranch is Tita's cooking, and not the warm fuzzy feelings Mama E provides (sarcasm anyone?).