Like Water for Chocolate

by Laura Esquivel

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What is the importance of tradition in Like Water for Chocolate?

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Tradition in Like Water for Chocolate is, in many ways, the story's antagonist. Although Tita's mother is the person who primarily enforces the traditions, creating obstacles for Tita, it's the traditional view of the family and the customs of marriage themselves that are Tita's main forces to fight against.

The first tradition that seems quite unbreakable is the rule that Tita, as the youngest daughter, must never marry and is designated as the mother's caretaker for life. There is no conceivable way for Tita to rearrange her place in the family, and so this tradition seems to have dictated her fate before she was even born!

Religious traditions and beliefs are also of clear importance in the world of this story. The Catholic faith in this time and place holds strong significance and lays the foundation of societal expectations, especially in the realm of marriage and family. In the novel, defying religious tradition isn't just disrespectful to one's family—it is also a stain on one's own moral and spiritual makeup. The belief in the afterlife or the judgment of God brings in another layer of meaning for those who break rules which have been deemed to be the word of God.

The traditions of this time are rich and rigid and, therefore, rarely broken. This story explores the question, what if someone were to resist the traditions of their world and family?

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Tradition is an important part of life during Tita's time. In fact, it is tradition that keep Tita and Pedro apart. Tita and Pedro are fiercely in love. However, because tradition dictates that the youngest daughter does not marry in order to care for her aging parents, Pedro fails to gain Tita's hand in marriage when he speaks to her mother. Instead, he is offered Rosaura, Tita's older sister. She is the middle sister and is not yet married. Tradition dictates that daughters marry in order. Pedro agrees to marry Rosaura but only because he sees this as his only chance to be near Tita, for her mother will never allow her to marry.

Tradition continues to be one of Tita's main conflicts during the course of the novel. Family tradition required Tita to remain unmarried so she could take care of her mother for the rest of her life. Similarly, Rosaura, Tita's sister and Pedro's wife, decides that she also will follow this tradition and that her daughter will care for her and remain unmarried. Tita is furious because she recognizes that the tradition is completely unfair; if she cannot marry and have children, who will support her in her old age? She tells Rosaura that she will go against tradition as long as she has to, "as long as this cursed tradition doesn't take me into account."

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