Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements / paper topics for “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel that can be used as essay starters. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in the Esquivel's “Like Water for Chocolate” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements for “Like Water for Chocolate” offer a short summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent paper. Before you begin, however, please get some useful tips and hints about how to use PaperStarter.com in the brief User's Guide…you'll be glad you did.Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #1: The Role of Food in Like Water for Chocolate
In Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, food is object, metaphor, and a means of expressing a range of human emotions. Consider one or more episode in which food is described in great detail, and use that passage to construct an argument about the importance of food in this novel. You may wish to argue that food represents more than one emotion or condition in “Like Water for Chocolate”. In any event, pay careful attention to the way in which the narrator describes the food, its preparation, and the reactions—both physical and psychological– of the people who consume it. Finally, consider whether the meaning of food as it is described in the novel is culturally-specific, or whether there is a certain universality to the conclusions which the book offers on this subject. “Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #2: The Structure of “Like Water for Chocolate”
One of the many unique aspects of Like Water for Chocolate is the structure of the novel. Each chapter is presented as a monthly installment, named for a month. Each of these monthly installments opens with a traditional recipe that emphasizes the centrality of Mexican culture to the text. Write an analytic essay in which you explore and assess the benefits and potential disadvantages of Esquivel having written the novel using this particular format. If you feel that this structure strengthens the novel’s appeal and the story itself, then explain why. If you feel that the structure is somehow confusing or distracting, then explain why.
Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #3: Like Water for a Chocolate as a Feminist Novel
Like Water for Chocolate is a novel that is densely populated with women, and each woman represents a distinct version of femininity. Some women are clever and rebellious, others are doting and domestic, and others simply fit no describable mold. Select one or more characters and write a character analysis that supports your belief that Like Water for Chocolate is or is not a feminist novel. In order to defend your belief, you will need to define what a feminist novel is; you may wish to do so by incorporating critical source material or by offering your own thoughtful definition.
Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #4: The Metaphors of Illness in Like Water for Chocolate
Many of the characters in Like Water for Chocolate complain of physical ailments. Some of the ailments are described in terms that are either exceedingly humorous or grotesquely repulsive. Consider one or more of the characters and their illnesses and explain how the illness metaphors function in this novel. You may wish to consider whether physical ailments represent emotional turbulence in any way. Be sure to draw from the text for relevant evidence and support for your claims.
Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #5: What is Love? The Question of Love in “Like Water for Chocolate”
One of the ideas that is central to Like Water for Chocolate is understanding the nature of passion and how it is both the same and different from love. Different characters, of course, have differing perspectives on this subject. Select one or more characters and explain that person’s philosophy of love. Be aware of the fact that one’s philosophy of love may never be articulated, but rather, it may be demonstrated through their actions. Based on the competing definitions of love, consider what Esquivel may want to convey to the reader about the nature of this most intense human emotion.
This list of important quotations from “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “Like Water for Chocolate” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements for “Like Water for Chocolate” above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition they are referring to.
“The trouble with crying over an onion is that once the chopping gets you started and the tears begin to well up, the next thing you know you just can’t stop!" (3).
“Though she didn’t know how to read or write, when it came to cooking she knew everything there was to know." (4)
“That afternoon…Nacha swept up the residue the tears had left on the red stone floor. There was enough salt to fill a ten pound sack—it was used for cooking and lasted a long time." (5)
“If she couldn’t marry, was she at least allowed to experience love? Or not even that?" (10)
“She had had to hide her feelings for so many months that her expression now changed dramatically, and her relief and happiness were obvious. It was if all her inner joy which had nearly been extinguished, had suddenly been rekindled…." (36)
“The weeping was just the first symptom of a strange intoxication—and acute attack of pain and frustration—that seized the guests and scattered them across the patio and the grounds and in the bathrooms, all of them wailing over lost love." (39)
“Tita was the last link in a chain of cooks who had been passing culinary secrets from generation to generation since ancient times, and she was considered the finest exponent of the marvelous art of cooking." (46)
“Mama Elena was merciless, killing with a single blow. But then again, not always. For Tita she had made an exception; she had been killing her a little at a time since she was a child, and she still hadn’t finished her off." (47)
“Unquestionably,, when it came to dividing, dismantling, dismembering, desolating, detaching, dispossessing, destroying, or dominating, Mama Elena was a pro. After she died, no one came close to accomplishing the same feats…." (97)
“…[E]ach 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; the candle could be any kind of food, music, caress, word, or sound that engenders the explosion that lights one of the matches." (115)
Reference: Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Most feminist literature would look at the kitchen as a space that typically oppresses women and limits their opportunities. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquirel seems like an unlikely source for a feminist novel because so much of the action takes place with women in a stereotypical traditional kitchen. In Esquirel’s novel only women willing to break with traditional viewpoints and values are allowed in her kitchen. Tita, Gertrudis and Mama Elena are three strong women with different ideas about what their roles in life should be. Like Water for Chocolate protagonist Tita depicts a woman in a traditional role attempting to do what is expected of her. By the end of the novel she is a triumph of feminism by living her life exactly as she pleases. Esquirel has written a feminist novel complete with strong female characters, magic and a few recipes.
Mama Elena has taken over the role as head of household for the De la Garza family. Mama Elena must protect her family after her husband passes away. She is a strong independent female character doing the best she can to raise her family during the Mexican Revolution. Mama Elena is trying to keep her family traditions alive while running a ranch and butting heads with her children. Mama Elena takes on the role of protector typically associated with men. Mama Elena portrays the feminist philosophy that women are equal to men at every level and thus deserve equal treatment. Mama Elena never sets foot in the kitchen to actually cook. Mama Elena prefers “killing with a single blow” (49), showing her incredible physical strength. Mama Elena refuses to enjoy food Tita has made because she is convinced that it tastes “nasty and bitter” (130) if it is made by her daughter. This reflects her refusal to embrace anything that challenges the traditional social norms. In the novel the way the characters interact with food is indicative of who they are his people. Mama Elena has a violent, angry food handling style. Mama Elena was described cracking nuts as “Applying pressure, smashing to bits, skinning, those were among her favorite activities” ( 230). The problem with Mama Elena's character is that this is how she treated her children as well, applying pressure and smashing them to bits. Mama Lena prefers to break next and crack nuts Mama Lena dies because she overdosed on the medicine meant to save her, convinced that her child is trying to poison her.
Gertrudis is the most unconventional female character in the novel. She leaves the ranch naked on horseback, works in a brothel and then becomes a general in the Revolutionary Army. Gertrudis relationship with food is shown in the novel when she is left alone in the kitchen to make fritters. A male Sergeant is left with her and there is a role reversal in which the man takes up the traditionally female task of cooking while Gertrudis orders him around. In this scene Gertrudis “reads the recipe as if she were reading hieroglyphics” (192). While the kitchen is a female space the only women in the kitchen are strong like Gertrudis. She rejects women only being capable of being a housewife and having no career by making becoming a general. Gertrude found the strength to leave the family ranch after eating a sensual meal made by Tita. Tita’s food made “Gertrude the medium, the conducting body through which the singular sexual message was passed “ (52). She also fulfills a feminist idea with her overt sexuality becoming a prostitute until her sexual fill was completed.
Tita is the main protagonist of the novel as she discovers her ability to channel her emotions through food. The kitchen is an unusual place to find your feminist hero. For Tita “the joy of living was wrapped up in the delights of food” (7). Tita finds her strength in her ability to influence others through food. Tita ruined her sister's wedding because she “had only added one extra ingredient to the cake, the tears she had shed “ (41). Tita figured out she can transmit her sexual desires to be with Pedro through cooking, “the food seemed to act as an aphrodisiac” (51). When Tita prepares beans she sings to them and “the beans allowed the liquid in which they were floating to penetrate them; they swelled up until they were about to burst” (219). All of Tita's desires come out through her food. When Tita finds out that John is willing to marry her even though she is not a virgin she still refuses because she wants to live her own life. This is a perfect feminist idea. Even though she has the opportunity to live in a traditional role she chooses to go her own way and wait for her true love instead of settling on a traditional marriage with a man she does not love. Once Tita finds her voice she tells the ghosts of her mother that she is “A person who has a perfect right to live her life as she pleases” (199). With these words Tita made Mama Elena disappear forever and created her own destiny. Tita is a true feminist heroine.