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Theme of Sexuality in Like Water for Chocolate

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In the novel “Like Water for Chocolate” the author Laura Esquivel indicates the theme of sexuality, feminism, and characterization. Sexuality demonstrates the complicated relationship of characters sexual behaviors and the need for sexual desire and freedom. The relationship meant a stereotypical role for the female characters, asexual or sexual. Asexual meaning having no sexual feelings involved. These traits are seen in Mama Elena and Rosaura due to them holding up their family tradition and their beliefs, not needing to live a sexual life. Tita and Gertrudis are the exact opposite. Fed up with their family tradition they distance themselves to fulfill their sexual desires.

Tita’s Sexual Desires

For an instance, Tita’s journey throughout the novel “Like Water for Chocolate” explores her sexual desires for Pedro. Tita is stubborn when it comes to her mother way of living and the tradition that bounds Tita from exploring her sexual desires with Pedro. It didn’t matter what Tita was feeling at the moment, whenever Pedro would glance at her a sexual feeling arose to her, or even just the thought of him. Tita had no control of it and had no shame of feeling this way. When Tita made eye contact with Pedro, “At once their passionate glances fused so perfectly that whoever saw them would have seen but a single look, a single rhythmic and sensual motion, a single trembling breath, a single desire” (67). For a brief moment Tita experienced freedom. The way Esquivel demonstrates Tita’s freedom is by the sexual tension between her and Pedro. This was the first turning point for Tita with her emotions sweeping through questioning the idea about her family tradition.

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Gertrudis’ sexual desire

The sudden desire to fulfill Gertrudis needs was through her own understanding. It wouldn’t be long before Gertrudis sexual desire arose because of the dinner Tita prepared. It was quail in rose petal sauce where Gertrudis had happily eaten it. When she had ate the dinner, Gertrudis became an awful mess, “tried to wipe these sinful thoughts… there wasn’t the slightest sign of life in her eyes… conducting body through which the singular sexual message was passed” (52). Not long before Gertrudis ran away to fulfill her desires in a brothel. The brothel was her solution and freedom from her mother’s pestering rules. A letter written from Gertrudis justifies her reason for leaving “I ended up here because I felt an intense fire inside me… Now at last, after so many men have been with me, I feel a great relief” (126). Gertrudis had sex with many men in order to get rid of the feeling at the center of her body. It was a way to notice that she conquered what she was searching for. It was through her own understanding as to why she felt accomplished. Now Gertrudis is the general of the Mexican revolution.

Asexuality of Mama Elena and Rosaura

Due to the family tradition Mama Elena and Rosaura who are loyal to it are considered asexual. Mama Elena has no male companion and she would rather keep it that way. With the talk she had with Father Ignacio she made it clear “I’ve never needed a man for anything; all by myself, I’ve done all right… Men aren’t that important in this life” (80). Esquivel portrays Mama Elena’s sexual life is caused by releasing her tension in the form of anger and spitting hateful terms to Tita. As for Rosaura, she is a minion to her mother’s harsh rules. Rosaura being married to Pedro where not much action occurs between them. The way the author Laura Esquivel portrays the theme of sexuality in Rosaura life is by having her sex life cautious with Pedro.

Feminism in the Novel

Feminism arises to the plot with the role of women. Although it might seem as if Laura Esquivel intends to have the female characters in a stereotypical role she doesn’t. Esquivel introduces the readers to Tita who appears to take care of the household as she is supposed to. An everyday routine from her; cooking, cleaning, and taking care of her mother until the day she dies. It isn’t difficult to see that Tita is truly suffering because of the forced tradition her mother values dearly. The only way Tita can rebel is to fulfill her desires in marrying Pedro. Her dream being taken away by her own sister. Aside from Tita there is also Rosaura who values the tradition just like her mother. She takes on the role as the perfect daughter, never fussing about the tradition and is obedient to it. Rosaura isn’t bothered about her mother’s living conditions and doesn’t step out of line when in Mama Elena’s presence. The only problem Rosaura has is Tita and Pedro goofing off behind her back and her trying to keep it a secret to not get humiliated of their affair. In the heated argument with Tita, Rosaura tells her, “You know, you really don’t deserve God’s mercy! As far as I’m concerned, I couldn’t care less if you and Pedro go to hell for sneaking around kissing in every corner… As long as nobody finds out about it” (214). Next is Gertrudis who is seen as the fierce child of the bunch. Gertrudis is determined and untamed by her desires. In the end, it comes to her own understanding as to what she is missing, and now is the general of the Mexican revolution. The perfect example of contradicting the role of woman is Mama Elena’s ruling behavior in the household. She does not act like a mother figure to her youngest daughter but resents her. It’s a suffocating feeling for Tita to be around her as Tita fears her. Mama Elena established her authority in the household. For example, when revolutionaries came to raid her house, she is well prepared, a shotgun in one hand, with her daughters hidden away. The captain had known from the very moment “Her gaze met that of the captain in charge, and he knew immediately from the steeliness of her eyes that they were in the presence of a woman to be reckoned with” (89). Mama Elena was a very intimidating person, the revolutionaries could not deny the fact.

Summary

Sexuality can be defined as to how others see it and from their perspective. Although, in the novel “Like Water for Chocolate” the recurring theme sexuality brings a new different aspect. The characters express their emotions differently and characters are asexual or sexual. Overtime the development of characters happen and their sexual desires or impulse. An example would be Tita who obeyed her mother’s commanding until she was tired of the nonsense and did what she desired. Gertrudis on the other hand, has had sex with many men to find herself and late became the general of the Mexican revolution. In contrast, Mama Elena and Rosaura lived non-sexual lives due to their traditions. The theme of sexuality degrades the idea of the stereotypical role of woman. Laura Esquivel indicates the idea of feminism, supporting the characters along the way.

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