What Is the Role of Magical Realism in the Novel "Like Water for Chocolate"?

role-magical-realism-novel-like-water-chocolate Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Moviepix/Getty Images

In "Like Water for Chocolate," magical realism is used to highlight the presence of key emotional and relational elements within the context of everyday activities such as cooking and eating. Throughout the story, magical realism serves to express the character's emotions, offer a unique perspective of the characters' world, exaggerate specific plot points or ideas, and provide comic relief to balance out some of the story's more depressing elements.

In Laura Esquivel’s popular 1989 novel "Like Water for Chocolate," the main character, Tita de la Garza, cooks as a means of self-expression. The author uses magical realism to show how the complexities of Tita's emotions inform her environment and her food. For instance, Tita's feelings of sensuality come out in her dish Quail in Rose Petal Sauce. She serves it to other characters who then grow consumed with lustfulness after eating it. As another example, Tita is full of grief as she prepares the batter for her sister Rosaura's wedding cake. Her tears fall into the batter, and everyone who eats the cake gets sick. Finally, it can be argued that Tita's complex relationship with cooking and eating began when she was born in the kitchen, floating on a river of her mother's tears.