What does fire symbolize in Like Water for Chocolate? Give two examples to support your answer.
Fire symbolizes love, sexual passion, and denied passion. Tita's love for Pedro is a theme woven throughout this novel. However, she has been denied this love through her mother's cruelty and control over Tita's life. But, after eating the Quail in Rose Petal Sauce (chap. 3), Tita enters Pedro's body, "hot, voluptuous, perfumed, totally sensuous." Tita's sister, Gertrudis, acts as the conduit for the heat to spread between Tita and Pedro. This leads to the first instance of fire in the book when the passion between Tita and Pedro erupts in Gertrudis; in fact, "her body was giving off so much heat that the wooden walls began to split and burst into flame." Fire symbolizes intense passion brought about through love denied.
Next, John explains the matches to Tita. That is, all of us have a box of matches inside of us. These matches need oxygen which comes from the breath of someone you love, and the candles light the matches, setting off explosions. However, "each person has to discover what will set off those explosions in order to live, since the combustion that occurs when one of them is ignited is what nourishes the soul. That fire, in short, is its food" (chap. 6). In this case, fire is food for the soul, love. John does warn Tita, however, that one must only light one match at a time because the fire, the passion, could leave the body lifeless as one enters a tunnel to eternity.
That lifelessness is just what occurs at the end of the novel when Tita and Pedro are consumed by passion, and Tita makes the conscious decision to light all her candles at the expense of her earthly life, for "with Pedro died the possibility of ever again lighting her inner fire, with him went all the candles."
The ranch is consumed in flames as Tita has lit her inner fire eternally as she joins Pedro in the tunnel, and they go together to the "lost Eden."
Fire symbolizes desire and destructive passion in the novel, as there are actually three different times when characters explode into flames. The first example is when Gertrudis eats Tita's rose petals and becomes so aroused that she sets the walls of the family's outdoor shower on fire. A second occasion is when Mama Elena's spirit becomes so angry about Tita and Pedro's relationship that it causes an oil lamp to explode and burn Pedro. The final example of this explosive passion is when Tita eats candles after Pedro's death, killing herself and destroying the family's ranch.
In Like Water for Chocolate, fire symbolizes uncontrollable passion. Throughout the book, Tita's love and desire for Pedro is a reoccurring theme. There are 3 instances where fire - and Tita's uncontrollable passion - is all-consuming. First, Gertrudis eats Tita's rose petals. Tita's passion, running through the rose petals, arouses Gertrudis so much that she eats the fiery walls of the family's outdoor shower. Next, an oil lamp explodes and burns Pedro. This is a result of Mama Elena's spirit becoming so furious upon learning of Tita and Pedro's relationship, that the passion uncontrollably causes the lamp to explode into smithereens. Finally, at the end when Tita eats candles after Pedro's death, she not only kills herself (to be with Pedro), but destroys the family's ranch in a passionate fit. Therefore, it's clear that fire symbolizes the lack of control passion brings for Tita. She is unable to control how much she desires Pedro, and that lack of control spreads through the rest of the family, as symbolized by the reoccurring fiery imagery.