Page 5

Terrence Chu

Quote Quest: Like Water for Chocolate


·  Read the text carefully and find references for your allocated motif, symbol/theme from the list

·  Write brief comments about each quote (consider the role of magic when appropriate)

·  Look carefully for connections and patterns among them

·  Group quotes according to their connections and patterns

·  Create a handout for your classmates which include the grouped quotes, page numbers and brief interpretation that hits on insights and significance. This must be posted on the wiki by Friday 30th April and you will be required to read and comment on other student's work as your digital class

·  * to help your interpretation, think about how the motif's symbols connect to the following topics in the novel: gender roles, fertility, filial piety , change, authority, traditions morality, love family relationships

·  for themes consider how motifs and symbols help to develop them


·  Evidence : extensive collection of detailed , relevant quotes provided

·  Understanding of evidence and context : excellent understanding of the evidence as used in context of the text

·  Interpretation of evidence: perceptive insightful interpretation of the significance of the selected aspect. comments are clearly supported by quotes

·  Organization: effectively and logically organized with clarity, fluency and precision


Quotations on Violence

·  Page 13- plenty of slaps: she has her own rights to not call her mother that

·  Page 11- no opinion: verbal violence

·  Page 17- fear of mother

·  Page 27- violence toward the chickens & slapped

·  Page 29- “you will be sorry”

·  Page 28- violence towards the eggs

·  Page 38- “You will be sorry”

·  Page 41- a beating

·  Page 49- Tita truly cared for the quails so violence to them are hard to convey

·  Page 90 used violence to protect family

·  Chapter six can be interpreted as the aftermath of the violence

·  Page 129- Chencha got raped

·  Page 133- recover from mental and physical violence

·  Page 138- violence was done to Jose to destroy love, once again…

·  Page 138- “castrating mother”

·  Page 172- John did not deserve that type of mental violence

·  Page 195- Violence for the sake of others

·  Page 199- violence scars Tita so much that she sees apparitions

·  Page 200- Elena becomes fire to inflict violence upon Pedro: unlike the previous magical realism on fire this time the meaning is anger

·  Page 211- mental violence towards John

·  Page 217- the violence in the chickens due to anger


·  Definition: 1) physical for abuse, 2) injury through infringement (*bypass rights), 3) intense & destructive force, 4) on feelings

·  Physical Violence use to suppress other’s loveà suppress another person so that they cannot achieve the love that they want

·  Physical Violence- injury by infringement

·  If you truly love something, you would not commit violence toward another

·  Physical violence as a form of protection

·  Mental Violence- broken hearts

·  Short explanation on violence: makes us unaware of the violence in the world

Quote Quest: Violence


·  Violence

In order to analyze violence in the context of Like Water for Chocolate, I must understand its meaning. Violence is defined as the physical form of abuse, injury through infringement, or an intense and destructive force. In the novel, there is all the type of violence that coincides with the dictionary definition which exists in the physical and mental forms. Keep in mind that this theme of violence is only mentioned briefly—maybe it’s a style of Esquivel in order to critique society.

First Group:

All the quotations below illustrate the usage of physical violence—to suppress an individual so that the individual cannot achieve the love it desires.

1.  “The castration is done by making an incision over the chicken’s testicles, sticking your finger in to get a hold of them, and pulling them out” (Esquivel 27).

This quotation shows the violence done towards the chickens. Esquivel portrays the violence done towards the chickens by implying that the chickens are alive in the operation with the explanation “…[the chicken] had died from the bungled operation” (Esquivel 27). The castration of the chicken symbolizes Tita’s castration by Mama Elena. On page 138, Mama Elena is referred to as the ‘castrating mother’ because Mama Elena repressed Tita’s life just as Mama Elena repressed the chickens through castration. This is similar to Mama Elena’s action in cracking eggs on page 28. The eggs have potential to become something greater like Tita, but Mama Elena crushed the eggs just like Tita’s life.

2.  “With two giant strides Mama Elena was next to Tita, grabbing the egg from her hand and cracking it open. Tita shut her eyes as tight as she could” (Esquivel 28).

This quotation is evidence of the magical realism used to compare Tita and the egg. Tita has been born with a ‘power’ to perceive things in the kitchen. By hearing a chicken in the egg, it may be the magical realism blending the reality and fantasy. This is used to show that Tita and the egg could have potential to become something greater, but Mama Elena is always there to crush their future.

3.  “Yes, she was having problems, when they had chosen something to be neutered, they’d made a mistake, they should have chosen her. At least then there would be some justification for not allowing her to marry and giving Rosaura her place beside the man she loved. Mama Elena read the look on her face and flew into a rage, giving Tita a tremendous slap that left her rolling in the dirt…” (Esquivel 27).

In this extract, Tita is suppressed by Mama Elena’s beatings. Even though, Tita is bearing with all the mental violence she has received from this marriage she receives physical violence from Mama Elena. This physical violence is shown again to remind Tita that she can’t even be sad of lost love because of Mama Elena’s actions of suppression. (*Further analysis in ‘Group two’)

4.  “My grandmother had a very interesting theory; she said that each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves; just as in the experiment, we need oxygen and a candle to help. In this case, the oxygen for example, would come from the breath of the person you love…and the saddest thing was that she knew what set off her explosions, but each time she had managed to light a match, it had persistently been blown out” (Esquivel 115-116)

This theory is a metaphor of Tita’s life. Each time Tita sets off her explosion, love, it has been persistently blown out by Mama Elena. Mama Elena blows out Tita’s flame by committing violence towards Tita.

5.  “When she found out she was pregnant, Mama Elena had planned to run away with José. But while she was waiting for him to appear that night, hidden in the darkness of the balcony, who should appear out of the shadows but an unknown man who attacked José for no apparent reason, eliminating him from this world” (Esquivel 139).

Even though Mama Elena seems to be the one suppressing others desires of love, she also has been suppressed before. The violence shown towards José portrays that someone committed violence to repress Mama Elena’s love.

‘First Group’ Analysis

These quotations all depicts women’s love being suppressed. This may be one of Esquivel’s critiques of society in which she is saying that women are often without love. These brisk quotations on violence give the effect that violence occurs quickly and appears often throughout the novel. In the ‘second group,’ ideas of feminism are developed even further. The gender roles are defined by the traditions. Violence is used to keep the gender roles intact because of the confinement of love.

Second Group:

All the quotations below depict the notion that physical violence is used to infringe others. The threat to employ physical violence is also used to infringe others.

6.  “The only one who resisted, the only one who said the word without the proper deference was Tita, which had earned her plenty of slaps” (Esquivel 13).

In this quotation, Tita is shown to be disobedient towards her mother. Even though Tita has her own rights to call her mother a different word that is not derogatory, Tita was not acknowledged that right in her household. The physical violence used to enforce Mama Elena’s rules portrays Tita’s infringement. This is the first act of rebellion that the reader sees in the novel. Tita is rebelling against the family tradition that restricts her to a life without love. It can be interpreted as the beginning of Tita’s path to freedom.

7.  “She couldn’t allow the tiniest suspicion to remain in Paquita’s mind or she might tell her mother. Tita’s fear of her mother was enough to make her forget Pedro for a moment…” (Esquivel 17).

In today’s society, people often hear the phrase “love is powerful.” In this case, fear is more powerful than love. “Tita’s fear of her mother was enough to make her forget Pedro for a moment…” ( Esquivel 17) shows that Tita’s fear of violence done by her mother has already scarred her. The only way to escape that violence is to obey the family’s unfair traditions. It is ironic, how Tita’s fight for freedom is through her own submission to her mother. This evasion of her mother’s wrath also marks the progress of Tita’s freedom.

8.  “Yes, she was having problems, when they had chosen something to be neutered, they’d made a mistake, they should have chosen her. At least then there would be some justification for not allowing her to marry and giving Rosaura her place beside the man she loved. Mama Elena read the look on her face and flew into a rage, giving Tita a tremendous slap that left her rolling in the dirt…” (Esquivel 27).

The look on Tita’s face must have been a face of defiance. Tita has finally gained enough courage to protest a little against Mama Elena.

9.  “Tita was more worried about saving her skin than about anything else. The night of the wedding reception she had gotten a tremendous hiding from Mama Elena, like no beating before or since. She spent two weeks in bed recovering from her bruises. What motivated such a monstrous punishment was Mama Elena’s conviction that Tita, in league with Nacha, had deliberately ruined Rosaura’s wedding by mixing an emetic into the cake” (Esquivel 41)

In this excerpt, Tita is infringed by violence again. Mama Elena did not care about Tita’s lost love. Even if Mama Elena was to be convinced by Tita that Tita only added tears to the cake, Mama Elena would still have beaten Tita. Mama Elena’s harsh beating reminds Tita that she does not even have the right to cry about lost love. Mama Elena’s responses to Tita’s opposition are physical attacks. Physical or mental attacks cause Tita to lose control of her well-being. It makes the power that she has gradually gained become nothing again.

10.  “Or you will be sorry…” (Esquivel 29) & “You’ll be sorry…” (Esquivel 38)

As the novel progresses, Mama Elena’s beatings seem to occur further and further apart. In replacement, threats are now used to control Tita. This can possibly shows that a large amount of violence has already been done to Tita to scar her so much as to be controlled by threats. In another interpretation, it may be that Tita has managed to evade Mama Elena’s beatings.

‘Second Group’ Analysis

Violence is done to infringe others. At one point, the mention of violence is enough to infringe others.

Third Group:

Physical violence as a form of protection

11.  “I have a very good aim and a very bad temper, Captain. The next shot is for you, and I assure you that I can shoot you before they can kill me, so it would be best for us to respect each other. If we die, no one will miss me very much, but won’t the nation mourn your loss?” (Esquivel 90)

In this passage, Mama Elena uses her violence to protect her family. The effect of this passage gives the reader a new perspective to Mama Elena. The reader finally understands that Mama Elena only wanted to protect her family, her traditions.

12.  “Treviño kicked the door shut and then, in an unprecedented display, by beating him to death. When there was no more life left in him, Treviño cut off his testicles with a knife. When Gertrudis asked him why he had murdered him so brutally and not simply dispatched him with a bullet, he replied that it had been an act of revenge” (Esquivel 195).

For the avenge Treviño’s mother and sister, he brutally kills the traitor. The violence he commits is also mentioned briefly so that the reader does not pay too much attention to it. The effect of this method is that it allows the violence to be toned down so that it may be justified. In another perspective, it may also be Esquivel’s critique on society by saying that we do not notice the violence in this world.

‘Third Group’ Analysis

Violence that is used to protect others is often portrayed in a way that it is justified. It makes the reader agree with the violence.

Fourth Group:


13.  “Without a second thought, she went to the patio to catch the quail. When she had caught six, she carried them into the kitchen and got ready to kill them—which would be hard, having fed and cared for them for so long” (Esquivel 49)