“Kitchen Bound No More”Deconstructing Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate in a Radical Feminist Perspective
Deconstructed by:Ms. Georgina Viterbo,MA in Teaching Englishas a Second Language Ms. Rimsky Nikolai S. Gervacio, MA in English as a Second Language
Laura Esquivel: Up Close• was born on September 30, 1950, in Mexico City, Mexico,• Julio César Esquivel and Josefa Valdés• a novelist,• taught kindergarten• and wrote screenplays for childrens television in her native Mexico
Laura Esquivel: Up Close• most noted work is the novel and cookbook Like Water for Chocolate• In 2009, Esquivel won the candidacy for Mexico Citys Party of the Democratic
Radical feminism• focuses on the theory of patriarchy as a system of power that organizes society into a complex of relationships based on an assumption that "male supremacy"
Radical feminism• aims to challenge and overthrow patriarchy by opposing standard gender roles and oppression of women and calls for a radical reordering of society.
Radical feminism• arising within second-wave feminism in the 1960s,• typically viewed patriarchy as a "transhistorical phenomenon"
• Radical feminists locate the root cause of womens oppression in patriarchal gender relations, as opposed to legal systems (as in liberal feminism) or class conflict (as in socialist feminism and
Theory and ideology• society is a patriarchy in which men are the primary oppressors of women• women have come to be viewed as the "other" to the male norm and as such have been systematically oppressed and
Theory and ideology• Radical feminists seek to abolish patriarchy• the way to deal with patriarchy and oppression of all kinds is to address the underlying causes of these problems Alice Echols. (Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America 1967–1975 through University of Minnesota Press p. 139)
Theory and ideology• the root cause of all other inequalities is the oppression of women• acknowledge the simultaneous and intersecting effect of other independent
Theory and ideology• other categories of oppression may include: – gender identity – race – social class – perceived attractiveness – sexual orientation – ability
Theory and ideology• Radical feminists believe that men use social systems and other methods of control to keep non-dominant men and women suppressed
Theory and ideology• Radical feminists also believe that eliminating patriarchy, and other systems which perpetuate the domination of one group over another, will liberate everyone
Getting to Know the Novel• Like Water for Chocolate is the first novel published by Mexican novelist and screenwriter Laura Esquivel in the year 1989. The book is divided into twelve sections named after the months of the year. Each section begins with a Mexican recipe. The chapters outline the
• The novel follows the story of a young girl named Tita who longs her entire life to marry her lover, Pedro, but can never have him because of her mothers upholding of the family tradition of the youngest daughter not marrying but taking care of her mother until the day she dies. Tita is only able to express
Analysis• primary element of patriarchy is a relationship of dominance• Mama Elena takes on the role of a patriarchal
The ranch is her territory. She dictates and makes rules“Unquestionably, when it comes to dismantling, dismembering, desolating, detaching, dispossessing, destroying, or dominating, Mama was a pro.”
She utilizestraditional cultures and sociological constructions to subject her subordinates to obedience and oppression.• “If he intends to ask for your hand, tell him not to bother. He’ll be wasting his time and mine too. You know perfectly well that being the youngest daughter means you have to take care of me until the day I
• “You don’t have an opinion, and that’s all I want to hear about it. For generations, not a single person has ever questioned this tradition, and no daughter of mine is going to be the one to start.”January p. 11
• “But if you really want Pedro to get married, allow me to suggest my daughter Rosaura, who’s just two years older than Tita. She is one hundred percent available, and ready for marriage.January, p. 13
• “I won’t stand for your disobedience”, Mama Elena told her. “Nor am I going to allow you to ruin your sister’s wedding, with your acting like a victim.” February p. 27
• “It was really hard to meet Mama Elena’s gaze, even for the captain. There was something daunting about it. It produced a nameless fear in those who suffered it; they felt tried and convicted for their offenses. They fell prisoner to a childlike fear of maternal authority.”May p. 90
• “The only person she knew who could do it without a sign of fatigue was Mama Elena. Not only could she crack sack after sack of nuts in a short time, she seemed to take great pleasure in doing it”.
Rosaura, on the other hand, is a typical representation of how traditional females are, always bowing to convention and evidently doesn’t have a will of her
Gertrudis, she gives us a portrait of how and what a Radical Female should be. She is not constrained by traditional definitions of gender, race, class, or any prevailing sociological and hierarchal construct.
“ Dear Tita, You can’t know who own grateful I am that you sent me my clothes. Fortunately, I was still here to get them. Tomorrow, I will be leaving this place, which is not where I belong. I still don’t know where that is, but I know that I have to find the right place for myself somewhere. I ended up here because I felt an intense fire inside; the man who picked me up in the field in effect saved my life. I hope to meet him again someday. He left because I had exhausted his strength, though he hadn’t managed to quench the fire inside me. Now at last, after so many men have been with me, I feel a great relief. Perhaps someday I will return home and explain it to you.I love you, your sister Gertrudis.”
Pedro: “And me, aren’t you going to congratulate me?”Tita: “Yes, of course. I hope you will be very happy!”February p. 38
• “Pedro watched them through slits of eyes. He didn’t care a bit for the familiar way John drew near Tita when she whispered something in his ear. What was going on? Tita belonged to him, and he wasn’t going to let anyone take her away. Especially not now that Mama Elena, the major obstacle to their union, had
Dr. John Brown: “How nice the child looks with such a beautiful aunt holding him.”Tita: “Thank you, Doctor”Dr. John Brown: “He isn’t even your own. Imagine how pretty you will look with one of your own son.”
Tita is depictive of the utopianimage of a woman, an obedient daughter, a loving sister, a selfless nurturer, and an ideal lover.
• “ Tita lowered her head and the realization of her fate struck her as forcibly as her tears struck the table. From then on they knew, she and the table that they could never even have the slightest voice in the unknown forces that fated Tita to bow before her mother’s absurd decision, and the table to continue to receive the bitter tears that she shed on the day of her birth.”January p. 11
• “If there was one thing Tita couldn’t resist, it was a hungry asking for food. But she had none to give. It was sheer torture. When she couldn’t stand it a moment longer, she pulled open her blouse and offered the baby her breast. She knew it was completely dry, but at least it would act as a pacifier and keep him occupied while she decided what to do to appease his hunger.”April p. 73
She fought oppressiveness by going against Mama Elena’s will.• “Tita felt a violent agitation take possession of her being: still fingering the sausage, she calmly met her mother’s gaze and then, instead of obeying her order, she started to tear apart all the sausages she could reach, screaming wildly.” “Here’s what I do with your orders! I’m sick of them! I’m sick of obeying you!”May p. 99
• “Tita couldn’t take her eyes from her mother’s face during the wake. Only now, after her death, she saw her as she was for the first time and began to understand her. Anyone looking at Tita could easily have mistake this look of recognition for a look of sorrow, but she didn’t feel any sorrow.”July, p. 136
“… and she swore in front of Mama Elena’s tomb that come what may, she would never renounce love.”July, p. 138
In addition, she also finally had the courage to confrontRosaura and correct her wrong doings“Papa, I want to get married too, just like you, with this little girl. They all laughed at that, but when Rosaura explained to Alex that he couldn’t because this little girl was destined to take care of her until the day she died, Tita felt her hair stand on the end. Only Rosaura could have thought to perpetuate such an inhuman tradition.”
“Rosaura and Tita stared unblinkingly at each other and their eyes were still locked when Rosaura opened the discussion.Rosaura: I think you and I are overdue for a talk, don’t you agree?Tita: Yes, I certainly do. We have been since you married my boyfriend.Rosaura; Fine, if that’s what you want, let’s start there, with your wrongful claim to a boyfriend. You had no right
Tita: Says who? Is that according to Mama or to you?Rosaura: According to family tradition, which you are breaking.Tita: And I’m going to break it several more times if I have to, as long as this cursed tradition doesn’t take me into account. I had the same right to marry as you did, and you had no right to stand between two people who were deeply in love.
Rosaura: Not that deeply. You saw how Pedro switched to me at the last opportunity. I married him because that’s what he wanted. If you had had the tiniest crap of pride, you would have put him out of your mind forever.Tita: Well, for your information, he married you just so he could be near me. He doesn’t love you, and you know that perfectly well.” Chapter XI p. 213-214
And lastly, after being held in years of suppression, she finally succumbed to expressing her love for Pedro. heardPedro: Do you remember when we this song for the first time?Tita: I’ll never forgetPedro: I couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about asking for your hand right then. I didn’t know that it would take twenty-two years before I would ask you to be my wife.”Tita: Are you asking me seriously?
Pedro: Of course. I don’t want to die without making you mine. I have always dreamed of walking with you into a church full of white flowers, and you the most beautiful of them all. Chapter12 p. 236
Conclusion"I think women rule the world and that no man has ever done anything that a woman either hasnt allowed him to do or encouraged him to do."Bob Dylan
Men would arguably disagree with this text. But reading Like Water for Chocolate will definitely give people another perspective at how they should look at women. Women are capable of gargantuan things. She can mold and reshape individuals, lure people to do something perpetually good or immensely bad.
Most importantly, it was shown in the novel how women can be both keepers and destroyers of traditions, social constructs, and culture in a broader sense. They contribute and maintain society which in turn revolves around them.
“Kitchen Bound No More”Deconstructing Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate in a Radical Feminist Perspective
References:Weisberg, D. 1996. Applications Of Feminist Legal Theory to Womens Lives: Sex, Violence, Work, and Reproduction. Philadelphia. Temple University PressWillis, E. 1992. No more Nice Girls: Counter Cultural Essays. Connecticut. Wesleyan University PressEchols, E. 1989. Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America 1967-1975. University of Minnesota Press Minnesotawww.upping the anti.org (2011)www.sparknotes.com (2011)www.bookrags.com (2011)