Like Water for Chocolate

by Laura Esquivel

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What causes Tita's temporary blindness in Like Water for Chocolate?

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Tita’s blindness is a consequence of the many miserable vicissitudes that she has to undergo in chapter 2 of Like Water for Chocolate (Como Agua Para Chocolate). In particular, the object that causes the temporary blindness is the whiteness of the color of the matrimonial sheet that Gertrudis and Chencha were embroidering for Rosaura.

In tandem with the traditional wedding rigors of the time, a young woman was expected to remain a virgin until marriage. As part of her first sexual experience, as a show of modesty, and to proof virginity, the young woman would place a sheet with a strategic hole in it. The border of the sheets, as well as the area around the opening, would be embroidered. The opening in the sheet would be placed over the female genitalia and this is how the act would be performed that first night.

Tita stared at the white wedding sheet and she stared so long that the whiteness of it set her off in a trance of temporary blindness.

Tita stood as if in a trance, staring at the whiteness of the sheet; only for a few seconds, but long enough to cause a sort of blindness. Wherever she looked she saw the color white

Seeing this sheet, which was very white (a symbol of purity), must have come as a very traumatic shock. It means that her chances to be Pedro’s wife are extinguished for good. Moreover, it would mean that her relationship with her sister will forever be torn with this act. Overall, chapter 2 is a heavy chapter to process, emotionally. It shows Tita at her lowest points in terms of the sadness that she had to endure. It is no wonder she was “like water for chocolate”; she was, indeed, at a boiling point.

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