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Tradition and rebellion are two main themes in our everyday lives that clash in every household. In the novel Like water for chocolate by Laura Esquirel the main character Tita depicts how both tradition and revolution has a significant role in our lives through her actions. Born in a Mexican family with rich traditional values especially in regards to the role of women and their dependency on traditional roles, Tita chooses to be untraditional and rebel against the challenges and the ups and downs life has brought to her due to tradition.
Tita is made to understand that according to tradition she is not allowed to marry or even fall in love. Helena her mother explains to her that her duty as the youngest sibling of the family is to take care of her mother until death. She leads an isolated and lonely life in the kitchen but this gives her a different outlook of life as opposed to her elder sisters Gertrudis and Rosaura. As she grows up and matures into a young woman Tita rebels from the family tradition that subjects her to a life without love and falls in love with a young man Pedro who is later engaged to her sister Rosaura. She expresses her love and passion for Pedro through cooking and although she does not show this directly but as Esquivel (pg. 67) puts it it’s an emotional state manifested physically.
As Tita was preparing a meal she, “looked up without stopping her grinding and her eyes met Pedro’s. 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, single trembling breath, a single desire”. By this act of desiring a man mentally, Tita has defied tradition and allowed lust to make her go against her mother’s orders. Food plays a significance role in Titas life as it is clearly shown by this novel. Tita was born in the kitchen when her mother was cutting onions which made her cry so hard that she went into labor.
This is somehow ironic because this is one family tradition that works out in favor of Tita: food and cooking. Being the youngest daughter and assigned a responsibility to take care of her mum, Tita becomes an expert in the kitchen. She even makes the wedding cake of her sister’s wedding to the man she loves Pedro. She uses her love for the kitchen and familiarity with cooking as a means to express and overcome emotions and unreachable dreams. Food is behind many of her expressions of love to Pedro and she uses this as an advantage to defy tradition. Her cooking’s are said to kindle Pedro’s “sexual feelings for her” (Esquivel 66).
Both Tita and Pedro are aware of their desire for each other but tradition has tied them up and this makes Tita find more ways to revolt. She questions her mother about the family tradition and values and her mother being an astute woman she picks on her daughters defiance and her firm response makes Tita realize that she will never act up against her family tradition. Despite her mother’s stern warnings and orders Tita finds ways whether accidentally or intentionally to connect with Pedro and assure him of her love.
As time passes by Helena, loses control of her daughter as she becomes more independent and ignores her household chores. Towards the end of the novel Helena dies setting Tita free. Tita meets a young doctor John Brown and she agrees to marry him. Despite her engagement to Dr. Brown, Tita and Pedro have their desire for each other and Pedro pursues her as she prepares a food store room and she loses her virginity to him. Food has let Tita let go free the love she held for Pedro and broken tradition by this act of passion. In this book tradition has been overcome by revolution. Despite strong family traditional values and her mother’s orders and annoyance, Tita has successfully set herself free thanks to her strong will and rebellious heart. She becomes the first daughter in her family line to defy, question and change tradition.
Chocolat movie is a film about questioning tradition and strict religious beliefs. It focuses a French town in the early 1900s and it shows how great it is for one to learn to adjust to cultural context. The main character Caroline is a lady who believes that her mission is to travel around the world opening chocolate shops to let people eat chocolate and feel happy. She arrives in a small French town during a religious observation called lent. People in this town have a traditional belief that lent is a holy religious ceremony and that one should avoid anything which could lead them into temptation during this time. Caroline is coldly welcomed and her chocolates are considered temptation which is to be avoided during lent. The mayor of the town tells his people to avoid Catherine’s shop or else they will be destined to go to hell. Food can change anything (Zimmerman.165).
It is therefore not everyone who agrees with the mayor and some citizens think that apart from their traditional religious belief they should have something else to make life feel good. However the very religious members of the community who followed tradition to the book felt that any new member of the community should practice their religion and traditions as seriously and as loyally as they did. They encourage Caroline to go to church and close her chocolate shop and comply with their beliefs. Caroline refuses this social influence and stands up to her inner thoughts and do what she felt was right.
Traditional beliefs in this movie may make one argue that Caroline’s character was telling people that their tradition was wrong but it is not so. Caroline uses this traditional religious belief to bring out her inner self which is being able to stand up on her own despite the fact that she was facing rejection. She was trying to tell members of this community that tradition should not let you stand down on your pride. What people say should not have a turning in your life. However this was not the case in her daughter as she was having a hard time coping in school as the other kids referred to her as a child of the devil. Caroline encourages her daughter to cope as she had a strong belief that all this was due to change soon.
Caroline sets up social support groups where she meets with other women and she offers them chocolate as they talk. Here it is realized that there was more to her chocolate shop not just enjoying life. She uses food in form of chocolate to get women to open up and talk and she realizes she is not the only one facing rejection. Women here are lonely and have a sense of not belonging. As the movie ends Catherine decides to settle and stop moving from place to place and also find a man to fall in love with.
A lot of religion tends to make people believe that anything good and pleasurable is wrong and bad. Chocolat movie makes it clear that something as good as chocolate cannot be bad and if it is, that should be an individual’s choice to make. Consuming something individually does not cause harm to others. From the analysis of this the book Like water for chocolate and Chocolat movie it can be concluded that we should have strong will power and character to overcome and reject tradition since ignoring tradition does not cause harm but following it can be harmful.