Study Guide

Like Water for Chocolate Men and Masculinity

By Laura Esquivel

Men and Masculinity

"If [Pedro] intends to ask for your hand, tell him not to bother." (1, 22)

A: why do women have to have their hands asked for? B: why is Mama Elena, definitely a woman, trying to control Tita so much? In Like Water for Chocolate, it's not just a man's world, it's a Mama's world.

"You don't have an opinion, and that's all I want to hear about it." (1, 27)

This smarts of machismo, and Mama E telling Tita this lets her know who's boss.

"I won't allow you to touch anything inside my house. Understand? Those things are for my cause." (5, 298)

Laying down the law, Mama E confronts machismo and manly rebel men with her own brand of power.

"Understood, my general." (5, 300)

Juan, captain of the rebel forces, not only Gertrudis's lover but a smart enchilada; he knows not to cross a woman like Mama Elena.

They fell prisoner to a childlike fear of maternal authority. (5, 309)

That's what we like to call Mamachismo—she'll keep you down, control you, and stop you from looting her ranch.

This woman desperately needed a man to quench the red-hot fire that was raging inside her. (3, 190)

Well, of course, isn't that what all women need? A man to make them calmer, more docile, more controllable. Excuse us while we go snicker…

"Children shouldn't be away from their mothers." (4, 262)

What about the men, huh? Don't children need fathers? We think this pillar of Machismo not only is unfair, it's not wholly true.

"The man who picked me up in the field in effect saved my life." (7, 429)

Gertrudis, speaking of Juan to Tita. Sure, they made love, but how exactly did he save her life, we gotta wonder? Would she have exploded? Caught fire?

"You know how men are. They all say they won't eat off a plate that isn't clean." (7, 473)

Yeah, those hombres. A clever way of saying men only want to be with virgins.

[Gertrudis] was a general in the revolutionary army. The commission had been earned by sheer hard work, she fought like mad on the field of battle. (9, 572)

A great example of women surpassing men in terms of behavior, tradition, and work, Gertrudis is the modern Mexican woman, waaaaay ahead of her time.