How does Laura Esquivel use literary devices to build the mood in "Like Water for Chocolate"?

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Jessica Akcinar eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Esquivel uses several literary devices, including foreshadowing, metaphors, symbolism, imagery, and hyperbole, in order to create different moods in her novel, "Like Water for Chocolate." For example, passion is apparent when foreshadowing is introduced. John tells Tita about his grandmother's theory of love and life. She said that "each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can't strike them all by ourselves." We need the breath of the person we love to light them and thus nourish our souls. She warns, however, that lighting the matches all at once would be fatal. This process occurs at the end of the novel when Pedro's suppressed passion for Tita is finally "lit," and the intense flame is too much for him to bear. It is then that he dies of a heart attack and she is consumed by a literal and metaphoric/symbolic flame.

Imagery and hyperbole are also helpful in constructing mood in the novel. Through the vivid descriptions of Tita's magical cooking, the reader can imagine the smells, tastes, and feelings that the food evokes. Also, magic realism is evident when these feelings of love, sadness, lust, and resentment are exaggerated through the characters as they cause orgasms, sobs, and even death.

reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the novel Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel uses many devices to build the mood in the novel. However, one of the most important aspects of this work is her use of magical realism. Magical realism weaves elements of the fantastic or the supernatural into everyday life and is usually found in Latin American literature.

Through the use of magical realism, Esquivel illustrates Tita's emotions. For example, when Tita is born on the kitchen table, “Tita was literally washed into this world on a great tide of tears that spilled over the edge of the table and flooded across the kitchen floor" (10). Magical realism is used to foreshadow the sadness of Tita's life; the fantastical image that floods the kitchen is one of tears. As well, Tita's place throughout the novel is the kitchen. Tita's recipes also illustrate magical realism as they set the mood for love, lust, bitterness, and sadness, to name a few.

The novel ends on a note of the fantastic as Tita's bedspread covers the entire ranch, and she and Pedro are united in a place beyond earth, "the lost Eden." Through the use of magical realism, Esquivel narrates Tita's life.

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Like Water for Chocolate

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