Study Guide

Like Water for Chocolate Race

By Laura Esquivel

Race

Though [Nacha] didn't know how to read or write, when it came to cooking she knew everything there was to know. (1, 4)

Nacha, mother-figure and chef extraordinaire, is the one who teaches Tita everything. And what she knows is both delicious and powerful.

Her features were plainly Indian she was making tea in an earthenware pan. (6. 376)

Here Tita encounters John's grandmother, Morning Light. In part, she helps Tita get over the trauma of her abusive mother.

From the first, they had established a communication that went far beyond words. (6. 379)

Morning Light is magical; she's mystical; and she's apparently a ghost.

[…] [John's grandmother], a Kikapu Indian who John's grandfather had captured and brought back to live with him, far from her tribe. (6. 382)

Uh, robbed much? We think it's pretty crazy that Morning Light was captured. Talk about a forceful courting.

"She was a quiet woman, just like you. Sitting in front of her stove, her heavy braid wrapped around her head, she was always able to read my thoughts." (6. 407)

Traits of an Indigenous Mexican woman: quiet, lots of hair, and connected to magic in some shape or form. Tita's got it all, minus the Indian part.

She hadn't been allowed to marry him because he had N**** blood in his veins. (7. 480)

Probably the only time we feel sorry for Mama Elena, it turns out she was also forbidden to get with her dream man. And all because of some dark skin…

[…] not like "the Kikapu" and her herbs. (6.382).

Here we see an example of how John's family was both racist and offensive. Morning Light's medicine and culture were seen as something to scorn and laugh at.

"I don't know where Gertrudis gets her sense of rhythm. Mama didn't like to dance and papa was very bad at it." (9, 597)

Cue awkward laugh. Rosaura whispers this to Tita, who knows very well why Gertrudis can dance well and it ain't because she took lessons.

A year later, Gertrudis gave birth to a mulatto baby. (9, 598)

Oh, the gossip; oh, the strife. This is the moment in which Tita must share her mother's sexy past in order to save Gertrudis and Juan's marriage.

It was fortunate [Tita] had not dared to burn the letters, since now her mother's "black past" served to establish proof of Gertrudis's innocence. (9, 59)

Yeah, so, Gertrudis, remember that time you thought your dad was really your dad? Turns out he wasn't. Um…Surprise?