Study Guide

Like Water for Chocolate Violence/Abuse (Physical and Mental)

By Laura Esquivel

Violence/Abuse (Physical and Mental)

Tita got a terrible spanking for that, and she was forbidden to play with her sisters in her own world. (1, 9)

This is the first instance of corporal punishment in the novel. Unfortunately, most of the beatings are taken by Tita...

"I won't stand for disobedience, nor am I going to allow you to ruin [Rosaura's] wedding with your acting like a victim." (1, 81)

Mama E is giving Tita a not-so-loving talk after catching her being chummy with Pedro. A case of damned if she does and damned if she doesn't.

"I have a very good aim and a very bad temper, Captain." (5, 308)

Let's face it; Mama Elena is kind of a badass here. Not only does she protect her ranch from a gang of rebel soldiers, she threatens them.

While [Tita] was in her hiding place, she had prayed that nothing bad would happen to mama Elena, but unconsciously she had hoped that when she got out she would find her mother dead. (5, 322)

Woah. Not that we can blame her, but this is a pretty messed up desire to have. Then again, Tita's life has been a living hell up to this point.

Unquestionably, when it came to diving, dismantling, dismembering, desolating, detaching, dispossessing, destroying, or dominating, Mama Elena was a pro. (5, 336)

Scary much? In everything she does, it seems as if Mama Elena is more machine than human.

Mama Elena went to her, picked up a wooden spoon, and smashed her across the face with it." (5, 355)

Okay, if child services were around during the 1900's, this would have been a great time to call.

"Fine, if [Tita's] acting crazy, then I'm going to put her in an asylum. There's no place in this house for maniacs." (5, 361)

Mama Elena is a master of both physical and mental abuse—after beating her child and trapping her in a dovecote, we think she's the one who needs some time away.

[A group of bandits] raped Chencha. Mama Elena, trying to defend her honor, suffered a strong blow to her spine and was left paraplegic, paralyzed from the waist down. (7, 439)

Here we see an example of abuse by men on women, rather than the other way around. Rape is used to control Chencha, while violence is used to weaken Mama E.

"You'd better, because if you don't I swear I'll have you shot." (10,664)

Like Mama like daughter. Gertrudis uses some violent nudging to get Trevino to make the perfect cream fritters. Under pressure.

Grabbing his jacket, [Pedro] got ready to go look for John so he could smash his face in. (12, 805)

And here we almost have some man on man violence; luckily, when Pedro thinks of Tita, he doesn't go through with the brilliant face-smashing idea.