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Like Water for Chocolate | Study Guide

Laura Esquivel

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Like Water for Chocolate | Chapter 11 : November | Summary



The November installment begins with the recipe for beans with chile, which Tita is making for John and his aunt. She has not yet discussed her situation with him since she has been busy caring for Pedro during the week since he was burned. She interrupts her preparation of the meal to bring Pedro his breakfast, but he becomes angry when she has to leave him to return to the kitchen. Pedro says it is time to tell John she is pregnant and cannot marry him, and Tita finally tells him the pregnancy was a false alarm. Pedro, "behaving like a child throwing a tantrum," accuses Tita of having doubts about him and tells her not to return to his room for the rest of the day. Tita leaves, thinking Pedro has "turned into a monster of selfishness and suspicion."

Tita returns to the kitchen, where she is joined by Rosaura, who has finally left her room. After a week of not eating Tita's food, Rosaura has lost 65 pounds—the same thing that had happened when she left the ranch for San Antonio. The two sisters instinctively know each is finally ready for a confrontation. Tita goes back to the beginning of their problems, when Rosaura married her boyfriend. Rosaura counters that Pedro was not her boyfriend since he had so easily agreed to marry Rosaura instead. At that point Tita reveals Pedro had only married her to remain near Tita. Rosaura, knowing the truth of this, finally says her main goal is to not look the fool. She says she has no intention of letting Pedro touch her again, and Pedro and Tita can do whatever they like, as long as no one knows about it and Rosaura is not shamed. But the moment they are found out, Rosaura will make them regret it.

At that moment Esperanza's wailing breaks up the argument. Rosaura announces she is going to feed her daughter and Tita is to have nothing to do with the child again. Tita counters that one thing she will do is make sure the little girl is not trapped into the tradition of caring for her mother. Rosaura, though, has the final say. Mama Elena has left the house to her, and if Tita comes near Esperanza, Rosaura will force her to leave the ranch.

Dismayed, Tita leaves the house, wishing her sister would die. She goes out in the yard, where Esperanza's beautiful embroidered diapers are hanging, to calm herself by feeding the chickens. As she does she realizes that although the baby is what she most adores in the world, Esperanza and Pedro are not her family. She thinks perhaps she should leave so they can have a chance at a family, and she can have one of her own with John, whom she does love.

Suddenly, she realizes something is wrong with the chickens. Somehow, they have picked up on the argument between the sisters and are attacking each other. The fight becomes more and more frenzied, with the birds pecking each other's eyes out. Eventually they become "inescapably trapped by the force they themselves were generating," becoming a tornado of fury, catching Tita up in their violence and staining the baby's pure white diapers with blood. Eventually the tornado bores into the earth and the birds are swallowed up, just as Tita wishes her sister had been.

That night, John and his aunt arrive. The dinner is a success, but Tita finally tells John she has lost her virginity and can't marry him. After a brief moment John tells her that as long as she loves him, he still wants to marry her. He promises she would be happy with him but cautions her to make the right choice for herself. Tita cries, thinking about what a fine man he is. Her thoughts are jumbled, but she knows she will consider John's words as she makes "that crucial decision that would determine her whole future."


Chapter 11 plunges the reader into Tita's confused thoughts and into the middle of three confrontations. The first is her fight with Pedro, whose jealously has turned him into a "monster of selfishness." The second is her battle with her sister, when the two finally speak honestly for the first time. The third, a great contrast to the other two, is her dinner with John, where she tells him why she cannot marry him and he puts aside her reasons and says he loves her and will still be her husband.

The explosive fight with Rosaura is perhaps the most fascinating. As Gertrudis said earlier, there are many truths, and Rosaura's are most fully on display in the argument. Rosaura represents the more traditional values championed by Mama Elena. Although she did marry the man Tita loved, family tradition had dictated Tita could not marry, so Rosaura may not have questioned the odd turn of events that led to her marrying Pedro. Rosaura may also have had good reason for thinking that Pedro did not really love Tita as deeply as everyone had thought since he agreed to Mama Elena's alternate offer so quickly. Finally, she is correct in saying that the lovers, especially Pedro with his romantic serenade and his insistence that Tita not leave him, had made a fool of Rosaura in front of their friends and family. And perhaps most upsetting of all, Tita had twice taken over Rosaura's role as mother, first with Roberto and now with Esperanza. Whether Rosaura was a good mother or shared Tita's values may have been beside the point. The drastic weight loss Rosaura has the moment she stops eating Tita's food—a phenomenon that happens twice—seems to show Tita creates a toxic environment for Rosaura, one that could literally kill her.

The tornado of birds also seems to reinforce the idea that the situation between the sisters is dangerous, not only to themselves but also to those around them. The anger builds to a point where the birds are literally killing each other. One even pecks out the eyes of the others as the flock is dragged down into the earth, destroyed by their anger. More disturbing, the baby's white diapers are stained with blood, suggesting that Esperanza, along with her purity and innocence, would be the one to suffer from the sisters' hatred.

Tita's exchange with John is a contrast to the anger and violence of the other exchanges but is unexpected in its own way. After Pedro's petulant behavior that morning and Tita's realization that he had become a "monster of selfishness," John's love and kindness should have made the choice between the two men an easy one. Yet despite herself, and knowing she could perhaps grow to love John very much, Tita is still unable to make her decision.

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