How is power abused by the dominating characters in Like Water for Chocolate and The House of the Spirits?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Like Water for Chocolate and House of the Spirits, the dominating characters are parents, Mama Elena De la Garza and Esteban Trueba, respectively. There is a power that is inherent in parenthood, but it is a power for teaching respect and love, a power to be administered in loving admiration and appreciation for the offspring so that they may flourish and become in the reality of the world the best of what they are inside their small but independently powerful and dignified bodies and minds.

In both instances, Mama Elena and Estaban Trueba use their parental power for self-serving ends and with little or no regard for consequences and the truth of complex situations. While community social traditions may be valuable and useful, they may be enforced, administered and accepted with either giving love or demanding cruelty. Both characters chose to operate from demanding cruelty. In the end though, circumstances showed the psychological development of Mama Elena's demanding cruelty in the hope that she may be forgiven by the characters and the reader for her wrongdoing. Likewise, circumstances showed Estaban that he had been wrong, which softened him and offered him a second chance with his grandchild to live by doing right instead of doing wrong.

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House of the Spirits

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