Analysis Of Mama Elena In Esquivel's Like Water For Chocolate

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The phrase “mother knows best” refers to maternal instinct and wisdom. It is often used to describe how mothers are the most knowledgeable when it comes to their children’s needs. This cliche is frequently used by mothers who try to guide their children on the path towards success, especially when the child protests. Tita’s mother, Mama Elena, embraces this expression fully, and always pushes Tita towards what she believes is the road to achievement. Mama Elena is perhaps one of the best portrayals of “tough love” in a character in literature. Like Water for Chocolate’s author, Esquivel, depicts Mama Elena as a strong, independent woman who does not bother with things she deems insignificant. This translates to the reader through the decisions…show more content…
Time and time again, Tita expresses her fatigue and distaste for these arduous chores. At first glance, it may seem as though Mama Elena is a merciless tyrant who only lives to torture Tita. However, Mama Elena assigns these tasks to Tita without any malicious intent, believing that these tasks are meant for the youngest daughter to fulfill, as she is a faithful adherent to family tradition. She expresses her appreciation for Tita in her own unique way, as she is not very fond of or accustomed to expressing her emotions openly. Her frank attitude, coupled with her lack of sympathy makes it so that her actions are misinterpreted by the reader as well as other characters. She evidently trusts Tita with these tasks, although she often criticizes her wrongdoings and mistakes: “Then go and rip it out. Baste it and sew it again and then come and show me. And remember that the lazy man and the stingy man end up walking their road twice” (12). Her criticisms are not to belittle and discourage Tita, but to help Tita improve gradually as she learns to correct her mistakes. In this quote, Mama Elena is scolding Tita as she was not careful when sewing, forgetting to baste the garment. By having Tita redo the stitches, she was making sure that Tita will be able to avoid error in the future, as doing so will be a memorable experience that serves as a reminder of what…show more content…
In fact, she is a loving mother who struggles to convey her love to her children and only knows how to do so by enforcing respect and proper behavior through discipline. Her blunt ways are frequently misinterpreted by both the characters in Like Water for Chocolate and its readers. She only gives Tita laborious tasks because she trusts Tita and believes that it is Tita’s responsibility to carry out these duties due to family traditions that were passed down from generation to generation. Her objection to Pedro’s proposal when he asked for Tita’s hand in marriage was due to her apprehension of what may be the outcome of the two’s relationship. Traumatized, she wanted to protect her daughter from the severe mental pain of forbidden love and did so by stopping Pedro from ever becoming an influential figure in Tita’s life. Mama Elena loves all of her children dearly, although she struggles with expressing this love vocally. She never meant to abuse Tita, nor did she ever intentionally try to harm her in any way. She believed that she was doing the right thing, that she was disciplining her child. She only punished Tita out of good intentions, not because she wanted to inflict permanent physical and emotional damage on the young woman. Just because Mama Elena does not fit the description of a traditionally “loving mother” does not make her any less motherly. She is a definite mother figure in Tita’s
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