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Like Water for Chocolate | Chapter 10 : October | Summary

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Summary

The October installment begins a week after the return of Gertrudis and presents the recipe for her favorite dessert: cream fritters. As Tita prepares the dish for her, Tita tries to decide how to tell Gertrudis of her dilemma. She is torn between her own situation and concern for Rosaura. She wonders what would happen to Rosaura and her daughter if Pedro left them for Tita.

Finally Tita reveals her swollen stomach to Gertrudis and says she doesn't know what will happen when her sister learns the truth. Gertrudis responds by saying "the simple truth is that the truth does not exist." More specifically, there is no one truth. She points out another truth is that Rosaura married Pedro knowing how it would hurt Tita. She also says the love between Tita and Pedro is one of the truest she's ever seen, and Rosaura is aware of that truth as well. Gertrudis then sees Pedro approaching them and loudly tells Tita she should tell him she is pregnant. The secret revealed, Pedro and Tita go off to talk, leaving Gertrudis with the fritters she has long desired.

Pedro is delighted by the news and tells Tita they should run away together and finally enjoy their happiness. But then even he realizes he doesn't want to hurt Rosaura or their daughter and would miss seeing Esperanza. He will try to come up with a solution that works for all of them.

After her discussion with Pedro, Tita spends the afternoon in bed. Her belly has swollen even more, and she wishes she were a seed, not subject to the judgments of society or her mother's ghost. But she reflects she was never able to "resist the temptation to violate the oh-so-rigid rules her mother imposed in the kitchen ... and in life." At that moment a drunken Pedro begins serenading her beneath her window. The furious ghost of Mama Elena appears, telling Tita she should behave like a decent woman and go where she can't do any harm to anyone.

Finally Tita finds her courage. She tells her mother that she, Tita, knows who she is: "A person who has a perfect right to live her life as she pleases." She cries out she won't put up with Elena anymore and she has always hated her. The ghost fades, and as it does, Tita's body relaxes and she has her menstrual flow. She is not pregnant after all.

Mama Elena, though, is not quite done. As her spirit fades into a small fireball, it shoots out the window and shatters an oil lamp near Pedro, engulfing him in flames. Gertrudis puts out the fire, and Pedro is taken to his bedroom. He begs Tita not to leave him, and she holds his hand crying. Rosaura approaches, but Pedro will not let go of Tita's hand. The two women look at each other, and Rosaura backs away. She goes to her room, locks herself in, and doesn't reappear for a week.

Tita continues to nurse Pedro, using a natural remedy Nacha whispers in her ear. Gertrudis leaves, telling Tita not to give up the fight for Pedro. Then Tita sees John approaching. She feels both enormous joy at his return and sadness for what she must tell him. The moment he hugs her, he knows something has changed.

Analysis

This chapter is the emotional turning point for Tita. She finally decides she knows who she is and she has a right to direct her own life. Gertrudis's advice about "truth" may have been the catalyst that finally gave Tita the courage to stand up for herself. Gertrudis helps her sister see there are many truths, and Rosaura has as much to feel guilty for as Tita does. She also points out the truth of love and emotion, which cannot be ignored or argued away. In other words truth, guilt, and what is "right" are basically subjective, and neither other individuals nor society itself should be able to dictate behavior or pass judgment on the actions of others. This belief is epitomized by Mama Elena. As an individual she is a flawed human being who has no right to judge others. And if she represents society and its values, the implication is that society itself can be as self-righteous, unforgiving, and hypocritical as she was.

Finally understanding this, Tita challenges the ghost of her mother, pointing out Elena's hypocrisy and admitting she has hated the bitter, controlling woman her entire life. These words finally release her from her mother's stranglehold. They also release a flow of blood from Tita's body, suggesting that her late period and swollen belly were the result of her own certainty she should be punished for having relations with Pedro. With the exorcism of Mama Elena's ghost and her rejection of her belief that she needed to please her, her shame vanishes, and so does the false pregnancy. By doing so she also frees herself from the demanding role and traditional values imposed on her by society.

Interestingly, no one mentions Pedro in all of this talk of truth. Yet his own hypocrisy, weakness, and selfish actions have caused much of the grief in the family. This may suggest that despite the strides women make, men still have more freedom to behave as they like, and they are less likely to be the victims of society's judgment. This does not explain Tita's love for him, but love is not logical, and Pedro's character may be beside the point given her feelings for him. Even the liberated Gertrudis encourages her sister not to give up on him for her love.

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