Analysis Of The Character Of Mama Elena In Like Water For Chocolate

Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate (1991) symbolizes a battle for love through a very traditional family story of 1990. Throughout the novel, the main character Tita was being abandoned to have anything of her own. Tita’s hands were tied by an unfair tradition where she had to take care of her mother until the day she died. She was being rejected to marry the love of her life because of the nasty family tradition that has been passed for a very long period of time. This novel is a great example of the injustice that happened around most of the household of that time. Throughout Mama Elena’s character towards her family and most importantly Tita, this novel highlights the social culture and tradition of keeping important family traditions, rules and social norms over family and loved ones.

This novel’s significant message to the reader is how women can use food as a path to gain power and freedom Tita was considered powerless to her family because she was not allowed to do anything besides taking care of her family, especially her mother. So the writer used Tita’s relation towards food and cooking to give an idea to the reader of how women can empower themselves by doing their usual work. This novel gave so many important messages through both Mama Elena and Tita’s character. Each and every character’s relationship with food suggested how women could use their voice against society just by doing what society asked them to do. This book showed women’s power and emotions throughout food and cooking.

Laura Esquivel’s writing used a luxury way of giving the reader a very important message of women’s discrimination as well as the misuse of power. A very important role of this novel was Mama Elena, who misused her power. “For generations, not a single person in my family has ever questioned this tradition, and no daughter of mine is going to be the one to start”. She was so eager for the rituals and passed it to the next generation that in the process of doing it she became so harsh and started hurting other people of her own family. Mama Elena misused her power over her own family. Because of her, Tita and Gertrudis lead a very miserable life. Tita lost the love of her life and also lost her relationship with her sister Rosaura who married Pedro. All three of her daughters were the victim of her harsh rules. They all struggled to gain freedom and normal life.

Tita struggled to make her mother happy throughout the whole novel but her mother was never satisfied with Tita’s sacrifice. Mama Elena, who suffered heartbreak was an important reason behind that. Her heartbreak made her very cruel. She did not get the love she wanted so she became against all love and relationships. She became an arrogant person and most importantly a cold-hearted mother who does not care about anything but her work. One of the reasons she was so strict with the rules and regulations of her family was because she wanted to forget her lost love by being busy doing the family work. She was very revengeful throughout the whole book and made all three of her daughters suffer. She never got to have the love and life she wanted, so she did not let anyone have the life she wanted. That’s why she was so strict all her life. She would have given her daughter’s life up but never broke any rules. So that’s why when Gertrudis ran away to get the life she wanted, her mother burned her birth certificate which determined her identity, memory, and existence. She did it to wipe out her memory and existence from her heart and the family because of her family rules and tradition, social norms were more important than her relationship with her daughter.

The method Mama Elena used to gain control over her daughters is by using violence and cruelty against them. Mama Elena not only was hard on Tita but told Tita that she was prohibited from expressing her emotions towards anything. For the first time in her life, she wasn’t under her mother’s authority when Tita lost control of her emotions when Roberto died and was sent away from home. For the first time in life, she felt relieved and happy away from her mother. “For the first time, Tita firmly held her gaze, and Mama Elena lowered hers.” Laura revealed a strong character through Tita who found a way of expressing herself under any situation. Tita portrayed her brave character by living under a situation where one has no freedom and no say.

“While she was in her hiding place, she had prayed that nothing bad would happen to mama Elena, but unconsciously she had hoped that when she got out she would find her mother dead.” Laura Esquivel revealed a very unusual but reasonable way of expressing Tita’s emotion throughout the novel. Elena was so stubborn throughout the whole novel that she almost lost all of her daughters but still was very strict about her rules. She made all of their life miserable until her death. Even after her death, Tita was so afraid to make decisions of her own because she thought her dead mother would be upset with her and also when Rosaura gave birth to a baby girl she wished the same fate which is to take care of her mother until she dies on her daughter which showed Mama Elena’s power even after death.

Mama Elena never compromised her rules and tradition over her family, and she was too powerful that she was alive even after her death through the traditions and rules she created which everyone hated.  

16 December 2021
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