In Like Water for Chocolate how are the women characters stronger and more decisive than their male counterparts
As it is common in modern Latin American literature, female characters are often empowered in many ways, which is indicative of a new view of the female gender as one that is complex, enigmatic, and sometimes even supernatural. In turn, the male characters function as shadows of their female counterparts. However, the males have not lost any of their social dominance; they are merely passive characters while the females operate within the parameters of a male-dominated society.
This is precisely the case with Tita, Mama Elena, Nacha, Gertrudis and Esperanza as important characters.
In Tita we see a woman whose independent spirit is manipulated by a cruel mother who insists on carrying on with droll traditions that directly affect Tita. However, true to her character and to her mother, Tita strongly and courageously manages to function throughout her life while harboring resentment, among many other emotions. Ultimately Tita will literally "explode" in all the passions that she pushes back. There is a lot of energy in Tita's character, not to mention the emotional mess that attempts to drain that very energy. In contrast Pedro, her one true love, is mainly made to do things. First, he is made to take Rosaura as a wife, which he does, even when he is proposing to marry Tita.
....allow me to suggest my daughter Rosaura, who's just two years older than Tita. She is one hundred percent available
Then, he is made to be a true husband to Rosaura, meaning he has to have children with her, regardless of his love for Tita. Throughout the novel he also acts like a true weakling, through fits whenever Tita is affectionate to Dr. Brown, and demanding that she demonstrates her love for him.
Mama Elena is plain mean and cruel, dominating everyone around her, even Pedro. In fairness, she is a woman who has had to raise three daughters on her own in a time and place where women were in constant danger. Yet, her strength as a character far surpasses that of all the male characters in the novel combined.
Nacha, who is Tita's physical and spiritual guide is who gives Tita empowerment when she needs it the most. Nacha dislikes Rosaura because she does not hold any of the qualities of strength and independence that are so salient in the family. Rosaura is the only female character in the novel that is not strong.
Gertrudis represents the sexual force and energy that Tita has had to push aside and which Rosaura seems to lack. She is all three sisters in one in terms of seduction and physical attraction. So wild is she that she works at a brother with no shame while her man, Juan, had to leave her because she had extenuated him sexually.
This being said, the females are made stronger by being the characters that channel all the energy and emotions of the novel. They are the ones who carry the pains, who suffer the struggles, and who ultimately achieve (or not) the goals that they had set for themselves.