Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
Like Water for Chocolate playfully imitates the steamy romances included in Hispanic women’s magazines and simultaneously pays tribute to the arts of the kitchen. The novel begins and ends in the kitchen, where Tita’s grandniece prepares one of Tita’s recipes, illustrating that the plot is above all a vehicle for the author to celebrate food and cooking as the center of daily lives and destinies. This message is also evident in the fact that cooking is the root cause for the events of Magical Realism or fantasy that pervade the novel. The importance of freedom for women is the novel’s central feminist theme.
Tita learns the most important lessons about life in the kitchen from the Indian cook Nacha. As in the book’s title, descriptions of how characters feel in various situations are presented in imagery from food and cooking. In addition, the unique ways in which food is prepared and the ingredients employed are shown as determining or redefining people’s fates, as with the wedding cake prepared by Tita that spoils Rosaura’s reception and destroys Nacha’s life. The novel equates understanding these secrets of the power of food with understanding life. In its language, food-related events, characterization in terms of attitudes toward food and cooking, and cookbook-like form, this novel makes culinary activity itself the captivating stuff of literature.
Central to conveying a message of liberation for Mexican women is...
(The entire section is 427 words.)
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