In the novels, Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel and One Hundred Years of Solitude by García Marquez, the authors depict an impotent role of women characters in the life of their families and destinies of the generations.
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Both worlds represent a unique mixture of reality and the spiritual world unveiling family relations and life struggle. Esquivel and Marquez observe and record human behavior and actions, through the lens of unique world perception influenced by their social life and cultural traditions. One Hundred Years of Solitude offers a vast narrative representation of the human reality of our time. Like Water For Chocolate represents a unique style of writing and extraordinary talent that becomes apparent through the choice of settings and objects, irony, and symbolism. Thesis Matriarchs represent the core of the family and the main driven force that helps their families to survive and fight with life and fate.
In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Ursula’s role is to guide and direct her family, their actions, and values. Úrsula, the matriarch of the Buendías, knows with certainty when she will die. After the banana company massacre, it rains for four years, eleven months, and two days: She is waiting until the rain stops to die. Úrsula, in the clairvoyance of her decrepitude, perceives a progressive breakdown in time itself, realizing that a sentence has been passed upon her by time. “As long as Ursula had full use of her faculties some of the old customs survived and the life of the family kept some quality of her impulsiveness… no one but she determined the destiny of the family.” (228) She knows that there is nothing in the future to assuage her solitude.
Not only Úrsula but the whole town of Macondo is waiting for the rain to clear to die. One of the Buendías observes Macondo’s inhabitants, “sentados en las salas con la mirada absorta y los brazos cruzados, sintiendo transcurrir un tiempo entero, un tiempo sin desbravar.” From the epoch of the flood, time stretches undifferentiated before Macondo: all that can be anticipated is the end of time (Pelayo 54).
Similar to this woman character, Tita De La Garza, fights for freedom but she is limited by social roles and traditions. Tita falls in love with a young man, Pedro, but her mother does not approve of this marriage because Tita is the youngest daughter and according to family traditions she cannot marry a man till her elder sister will find a spouse. January begins with a story about Tita: “when she was only two days old, Tita’s father dies because of a heart attack” (Esquivel 3). To be closer to Tita, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura. In a time, Rosaura gives birth to a child, Roberto. Tita treats her nephew as a son and takes care of him. Although, her mother thinks that these relations can ruin her sister’s marriage and sends Rosaura to San Antonio. In a while, the family receives bad news that Roberto has died.
In both novels, matriarchs are the core of the plot development and conflict resolution. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Ursula’s absence symbolically indicates that José Arcadio’s science has been “separated from humanity” just as during the seventeenth century the conception of the universe as a vast perpetual-motion apparatus and man as a machine marked a further stage in the separation of the sciences and the humanities.
Second, God the creator and mover of this clockwork universe gradually begins to fade away and the “metals,” or nature, begin to replace him; that is, divine law is being replaced by physical law and God is being substituted by human reason as the instrument for understanding life. “But by then her acceptance of her fate was so deep that she was not even upset by the certainty that all possibility of rectification were closed to her.” (300).
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Third, this period in history best represents the stage where the dominance of materialistic, inductive science and the industrialization of Western societies is indicative of a transformation of man’s ambient to conform to the accepted mechanical model of a man and the universe. In Like Water For Chocolate, Tita’s mother dies because of an overdose of medicine she takes for fear of poisoning. This death is another watershed of the novel underlining changing nature of human relations: Dr. Brawn comes and asks Tita to marry him; Rosaura and Pedro decide to return to the ranch and give birth to a girl, Esperanza.
Both women represent the core of their families: they give life and take care of all family members. For instance, Tita becomes pregnant and the spirit of her mother comes and curses her unborn child. The spirit of a mother sets fire to Pedro, and Tita takes great pains to rescue him. Long after this event, Esperanza and the son of Dr. Brown get married. When Rosaura died, Tita and Pedro feel free from the burden of secrecy and family pressure and experience true love.
Pedro dies after this intense feeling and Tita decides to join him as soon as possible setting the entire ranch on fire, and only the receipt book has left. “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” (36). This novel reflects that true love cannot be forgotten or deprived; it exists in the heart of every person who loves and is loved.
In One Hundred Years of Solitude, the matriarch, the mother, literally rots away; the house is described as having walls that ooze blood. Ursula Buendía’s fear is based on the family tradition and augmented by the prediction of Melquíades that the last Buendía would fulfill the prophecy and would be devoured by a horde of red ants. For a long time, her family was homesick because everything around them was alien and strange. Laura Esquivel portrays that modern culture comprises a set of basic assumptions that operate automatically to enable groups of people to solve the problems of daily life without thinking about them (Pelayo 92).
In the waking reversals and adventures of the Buendías, their nightmares and torments also reproduce themselves: solitude, which is a hereditary infirmity of the Buendías, alienation which prevents them from communicating (and frustrates them in all their undertakings), inability to adapt to a world they do not understand and to a society in which everything seems possible, except happiness. Due to the determination, obstinacy, and patience of this writer, the anecdotes, fables, and lies of a tiny Colombian town lost between marshes and mountains have served in this manner, through reincarnations and changes, as key pieces for the construction of a story in which the men of today find the reflection of their true selves.
In Like water for Chocolate, the spirit of a mother sets fire to Pedro, and Tita takes great pains to rescue him. Long after this event, Esperanza and the son of Dr. Brown get married. When Rosaura died, Tita and Pedro feel free from the burden of secrecy and family pressure and experience true love. “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) Pedro dies after this intense feeling and Tita decides to join him as soon as possible setting the entire ranch on fire, and only the receipt book has left.
In sum, in the novels, matriarchs represent the core of the family. They support and guide their families, determine their destinies and life opportunities. Both novels reflect that true love cannot be forgotten or deprived; it exists in the heart of every person who loves and is loved.
Esquivel, L. Like Water for Chocolate. Anchor, 1995.
Marquez , G. G. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Perennial, 1998.
Pelayo, R. Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Critical Companion. Greenwood Press, 2001.