It is Mama Elena's power and control over her daughter Tita that leads to so much unhappiness in her life, but gradually, as the novel progresses, Tita comes to break free from the iron fist of her mother's control, and she realises that she can lead her own life rather than meekly accepting the life laid down for her by her mother. This is something that becomes far more apparent after Tita has lived with John for a while and then returns to her ancestral home to take care of her mother. When Mama Elena insists on discussing the food she is being fed by Tita with John, because of her fears she is being poisoned, she again responds with an absolute negative when John tells her he will ask for Tita's hand in marriage. Yet note why he responds in silence to her insistence:
There was no point, for he had resolved to marry Tita with or without Mama Elena's permission. He knew too that Tita was no longer so concerned about that absurd destiny of hers and that as soon as she was eighteen years old, they would get married.
The patriarchal power difference between John and Mama Elena lies therefore in the authority that John has as a male and also as a man who is in love with Tita. This more than anything else helps him to recognise that Mama Elena's stubborn insistence is not something that he needs to respect, especially as Tita has shown herself to be able to live independently away from her mother. The only barrier is Tita's age. When she becomes of age, she will be an independent adult and therefore able to marry whom she pleases.