In the novel, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, how does the point of view contribute to the reader's understanding of the story and themes?

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mstokes | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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The novel Like Water for Chocolate follows the story of a young girl, Tita, one of three sisters. She longs her entire life for her lover, Pedro, but can never have him because of her mother's traditional belief that the youngest daughter must not marry but take care of her mother until the day she dies. Thus, Tita is only able to express her passions and feelings through cooking. So infused is it with her own emotion that it causes the people who taste it to experience what she is feeling.

The novel’s narrative voice is of an unnamed, presumably female descendant of the De La Garza clan. From the first chapter, in which the narrative voice directly addresses the reader, to the final page where the reader learns that the  recipes contained have been preserved in a book passed down through generations, this narrator is the guide through this complex and fantastical tale. The narrator structures the novel by dividing the story into "monthly installments," and the recipes that begin each chapter act as a commentary and underpinning of the narrative structure.

The presence of a narrator who speaks about the past from a contemporary context allows greater space for the central device of the novel - magic realism. The reader comes to a clear understanding that the narrator is recounting family lore and consequently does not require her to substantiate the claims of such things as pink sweat but accepts these happenings as a part of the mystical world of the novel.

Finally, as the child of Alex and Esperanza, the narrator, by the very fact of her existence, stands as a testimony to the triumph of Tita's spirit, because the family tradition prohibiting the marriage of the youngest daughter has been successfully abolished. The curse, as it were, is broken – another aspect of fairytale present in the work.


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