Like Water for Chocolate - Movie vs Book


Laura Esquirel?s, Like Water for Chocolate, is a modern day Romeo and Juliet filled with mouthwatering recipes. It has become a valued part of American literature. The novel became so popular that it was developed into a film, becoming a success in both America and Mexico. Alfonso Arau directs the film. After reading the novel and seeing the movie, I discovered several distinct differences between the two as well as some riveting similarities. The novel begins with the main character, Tita, being born on the kitchen table. "Tita had no need for the usual slap on the bottom, because she was already crying as she emerged; maybe that was because she knew that it would be her lot in life to be denied marriage ?Tita was literally washed into this world on a great tide of tears that spilled over the edge of the table and flooded across the kitchen floor" (Esquirel 6). Although this is included in the film with tremendous accuracy, the movie begins with a different scene. The movie opens with Tita?s father going to a bar to celebrate the birth of his daughter. On the way a friend informs him of his wife?s, Mama Elena, affair with a man having Negro blood in his veins. The terrible news brings on a heart attack killing him instantly. In the book, this information is not given until the middle chapters. As the novel continues, another character is introduced, Gertrudis. Gertrudis, the older sister of Tita, is the first to rebel against her mother?s wishes. Wanting to escape the securities of home, Gertrudis is overwhelmed by her lustful passions. A soldier, not too far away, Juan, inhales the aroma of her desire and heads her way. "The aroma from Gertrudis? body guided him?The woman desperately needed a man to quench the red-hot fire that was raging inside her?Gertrudis stopped running when she saw him riding toward her. Naked as she was, with her loosened hair falling to her waist, luminous, glowing with energy, she might have been an angel and devil in one woman?Without slowing his gallop, so as not to waste a moment, he leaned over, put his arm around her waist, and lifted her onto the horse in front of him, face to face, and carried her away?The movement of the horse combined with the movement of their bodies as they made love for the first time, at a gallop and with a great deal of difficulty " (Esquirel 55). This imagery is tremendous. Every sense that Esquirel touches in this passage is illuminated in the movie with perfection. It?s as though Arau took a picture from Esquirel?s mind as she wrote and cultivated it to film. Later in Esquirel?s novel, Rosalio announces to Mama Elena that a group of soldiers are approaching the ranch. Mama Elena picks up her shotgun and hides it under her petticoat. She meets the revolutionaries, along with two other women, at the entrance of the home. Mama Elena warns the soldiers not to enter the house. The Captain of the bandits sees the grit and determination in Mama Elena?s eyes and agrees not to enter. However, the regiment does manage to round up some feed before leaving. In contrast, the movie at this point agrees with the revolutionaries entering the ranch, but disagrees with the rest of the events, possibly to add some action. First, Mama Elena confronts the bandits but with only one other lady by her side. Secondly, after a verbal confrontation, the rebels proceed to rape the lady friend, beat Mama Elena unconscious, and throw her in the lake, killing her. According to the novel, Mama Elena doesn?t die until later in the book, from a drug overdose. "At first, Tita and John had no explanation for this strange death, since clinically Mama Elena had no other malady than her paralysis. But going through her bureau, they found the bottle of syrup of ipecac and they deduced that Mama Elena must have taken it secretly. John informed Tita that it was a very strong emetic that could cause death" (Esquirel 135). Soon after Mama Elena?s death Gertrudis returns to the ranch. In Esquirel?s tale Gertrudis rides up on a horse at the head of the revolutionary soldiers. Tita finds out that Gertrudis is in