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Like Water for Chocolate | Study Guide

Laura Esquivel

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Like Water for Chocolate | Chapter 4 : April | Summary



The April installment of the book centers on turkey mole with almonds and sesame seeds, which Tita is preparing for her nephew's baptism. Tita, who had expected to resent her sister's baby, instead finds herself loving the little boy tremendously and is preparing the baptism feast with enthusiasm. As she kneels on the floor working the grinding stone, her breasts are visible and glistening. Pedro happens by and stares at them. Even without his touch, Tita feels the fire of his love transform her breasts from chaste to experienced flesh.

Pedro's look also reassures Tita he still loves her. For weeks he had not complimented her food, despite her best efforts. She hadn't realized Mama Elena had ordered him to stop. Tita had begun feeling she would never love anyone else, and the chill within her had grown worse. Then Roberto was born.

In a flashback the narrator reveals that on the day of Roberto's birth, Tita had been secretly preparing a box of clothes to send to Gertrudis, now working in a brothel. Pedro began calling out for her desperately, saying Rosaura was in labor and he had to get the family doctor, John Brown. Chencha and Mama Elena were already in town at the market, and all three ended up being detained because shooting broke out in the village. So Tita had suddenly found herself alone with her sister and forced to deliver the baby.

Luckily the spirit of Nacha whispered into her ear, and Tita did an expert job. Dr. Brown, when he finally arrived, was impressed by Tita's skill and her beauty. He happily promised to come by twice a day to check on Rosaura and the baby, for him just to see Tita again. Mama Elena luckily did not notice his extra attention so all was well—except that Rosaura could not produce milk.

At first the family found a wet nurse in the village, but the woman was killed in the crossfire between rebels and federales, or government soldiers. A new nurse could not be found, and the baby rejected cows' milk and the tea Nacha had once given Tita. Away from the family and desperate to comfort the baby, Tita gave him her breast. To her amazement milk began to flow. At that moment Pedro came into the kitchen, and they bond as a true family would.

Tita keeps this secret from Mama Elena, telling her she is feeding the baby on tea. Tita is happy, feeling now she has Pedro and Roberto, whom she feels is more her son than Rosauro's. Her happiness is captured in the spicy mole sauce served at the baptism, and everyone becomes euphoric after eating, the dangers of the ongoing revolution briefly forgotten.

Only Mama Elena is troubled, sensing something wrong at the feast. She comments to Father Ignacio, purposely within Tita's hearing, that she thinks it would be best for Rosaura and Pedro to move to San Antonio until Rosaura's health improves. The priest advises her to keep Pedro at home because, with the revolution, they need a strong man around the house. Mama Elena replies she's never needed a man and that "men aren't that important in this life." She also believes everyone is exaggerating the threat of the revolution. Tita, though, is only focused on the possible loss of Pedro and Roberto and resolves to prevent that from happening.


In Chapter 4 magical elements once more affect relationships, and food and nurturing play a key role. The first touch of fantasy occurs when Pedro's gaze transforms Tita's breasts into flesh that has known a man's touch. Just as when they ate the quail, the two lovers have physical intimacy without needing to touch. It's also significant the event takes place in the kitchen, where Tita was born and where she grows up. Now it is the setting for her continued sexual awakening.

The most miraculous event in the chapter, though, occurs when Tita is able to produce milk for Roberto, nurturing him as his own mother cannot. This once again emphasizes the tremendous difference between Rosaura, the frigid wife and incapable mother, and the sexually eager Tita, who in effect nurtures the entire ranch. Tita's nursing of Roberto also echoes the circumstances of her own infancy, when Mama Elena's milk dried up and Nacha fed the baby on tea and gruel. In both cases the surrogate mother becomes more the true parent than the biological one.

Finally, Tita's milk has the effect of turning Pedro, Tita, and Roberto into a family. Both are now parents to Roberto: Pedro as the biological father, Tita as the nurturing mother. But fate in the form of Mama Elena threatens to tear them apart and destroy their happiness as she plans for Pedro and Rosaura to move to San Antonio. Similarly, signs of the coming revolution foreshadow a time of famine and death that will destroy the happiness of the guests at the baptism feast.

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