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.
Discuss the role of magical realism in the novel.
Magical realism allows Esquivel to join the ordinary and the supernatural. It imbues her work with fantasy but also enhances the use of metaphor and symbolism. Instead of suggesting that everyone has a fire within, magical realism permits the idea that every character literally has a matchbook within him or her that can be lit aflame. Magical realism elevates the figurative language of the work into literal occurrence.
Discuss the relationship between smells and memory in the novel.
Smells from food and nature remind many characters of their joyful or painful pasts. The smell of roses reminds Juan Alejandrez of the day he first met Gertrudis, and the smell of Ox-tail soup reminds Tita of Nacha. Through smells, as through food, the characters are able to access hidden memories.
Explain the significance of food in the novel. How does it affect characters' behaviors?
Food frequently has the power of changing characters’ emotions and affecting their behaviors. Tita often conveys her powerful emotions to others through her cooking as in the instance when she shares her feeling of longing through Rosaura and Pedro’s wedding cake. Likewise, food also has the ability to heal. Inevitably, cooking always reminds Tita of Nacha, the surrogate mother from whom she inherited all the recipes.
How are the characters affected by the war? Does the war play a primary or secondary role in the novel?
The war is frequently a harbinger of bad news in the work. It claims more than one life and causes random inconveniences throughout the novel. However, the war never assumes a truly primary role in the characters’ lives even though Gertrudis becomes a General in the Revolutionary Army. Rather, the war exists almost exclusively as background. No dates, little context, and few names are provided to sufficiently describe it.
How do Tita's feelings towards Mama Elena evolve?
Until Mama Elena dies, Tita considers her to be a “castrating mother,” one who is too rigid and who inhibits the happiness of others. After discovering Mama Elena’s forbidden lover José Treviño Tita begins to understand the woman better. However, when Mama Elena’s ghost returns and continues to haunt Tita she finally expresses her hate for her mother and casts her spirit away.
Discuss Elena's role as a mother.
Mama Elena is a powerful matriarch. She lives by tradition and strictly enforces the rules of the ranch. Mama Elena’s lack of compassion drives many away from her including some of her daughters. Nevertheless, Mama Elena reveals the well-meaning intentions behind her brashness when she defends Chencha from the ravaging bandits. In a way, she is only trying to protect her daughters.
Discuss the structure of the novel. Why does Esquivel decide to begin each chapter with a recipe?
The structure of the work models both a diary and the cookbook Tita leaves behind for Esperanza. The structure fuses life and food in the same way that they are joined in Tita’s life. Beginning each chapter with a recipe reinforces that the food is just as central as, if not more central than, the actions that follow.
Compare the love feels for Dr. Brown and the love she feels for Pedro
Tita frequently remarks that Dr. Brown makes her feel at peace and stable. However, she feels intense heat whenever Pedro touches her or looks her way. Dr. Brown represents a practical and safe love while Pedro excites an unchecked passion in Tita.
Explain the significance of tradition in the work.
Tradition both blesses and curses the characters in Esquivel’s work. Tradition tragically keeps Tita from marrying the love of her life, yet tradition also gives Tita one of her greatest pleasures in life, cooking. Tita shares the cooking tradition that she inherits from Nacha through her cookbook. It passes through generations of De la Garza women and at last finds its way to us, the readers, through Esquivel’s work.
What does Tita's bedspread represent?
Tita’s bedspread is a metaphor for her bridal gown. She spends countless nights working on it beginning with the night that she first decides to marry Pedro. When she leaves the ranch with Dr. Brown, it trails behind the carriage like the train of a wedding gown. By the end of the novel, just before Tita goes to spend eternity with Pedro, she wraps the bedspread around her like a garment to keep her warm. Tita is never married but the bedspread is the closest thing to a wedding dress that she ever has.