Like Water for Chocolate

What are some specific literary devices udes to convey/suggest the theme obedience?

i need to know some literary devices that are used to come up with the theme obedience in the book.

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1. Dictatorships rely on obedience, not commitment. The subjects of dictatorship need only conform to rules, not believe in the rules or the rulers.

2. Nonconformity (failure to obey) is dealt with brutally. There is not generally a serious attempt to persuade nonconformists that the dictatorship serves their interests. Criticism of the dictator is not permitted. When Tita volunteers the opinion that Elena was responsible for Roberto’s death, Elena’s response is swift and cruel: she hits Tita in the face with a wooden spoon and snarls that no one has ever disobeyed her before and no one is going to start now.

3. Traditions are selected for their service to the interests of the rulers (or ruling class). Those traditions that encourage disobedience or reflection are eradicated. If appropriate traditions are not available, "new traditions" are invented. In Like Water for Chocolate, Mama Elena invents such a tradition to enslave Tita. There is no attempt to get Tita to believe in the tradition. All Tita must do is obey it because it is what the dictator (Elena) expects of her.

4. Authoritarianism works the same way. The emphasis is on order as prescribed by those in authority. The motto seems to be, "Do it this way because I said so." And, of course, one is not supposed to think about alternatives: "This is the way it’s always been, so this is the way it will remain." Change is abhorrent and intolerable.

5. Dictators and authoritarians usually do not consider traditions, rules, and conventions of propriety to apply to them. Mama Elena is rude to the monsignor, even belittling the church and men.

6. When the dictators have broken the rules they want their subjects to obey, they have the power to cover up their indiscretions. Elena tells Tita at one point, "I have done everything you are thinking of doing." But Elena’s rule-breaking does not make her sympathetic to Tita. Furthermore, she sees no reason to hold herself accountable to anyone for what she did in the past.

7. Dictators have an Achilles heel, however: they think they are invincible. They are so used to being obeyed that they expect it as a matter of course.

In a similar vein, dictators often do not see trouble coming. They believe in their power: might makes right, and their might is unsurpassed in their own minds. Consequently, dictators (and authoritarians more generally) are inflexible when something out of the ordinary occurs. When banditos invade the ranch, Elena shoots off both barrels of a shotgun, leaving her with no protection against people who do not recognize her authority. She simply expected to be obeyed. She did not recognize the banditos as threats.


In order to fulfill her responsibilities toward her mother, Tita must obey her-a difficult task, given Mama Elena’s authoritative nature. Mama Elena makes harsh demands on Tita throughout her life and expects her to obey without question. Tita has never had the “proper deference” towards her mother, Mama Elena feels, and so she is particularly harsh on her youngest daughter. Even when Tita sews “perfect creation” for the wedding, Mama Elena makes her rip out the seam and do it over because she did not baste it first, as Mama instructed. After Mama Elena decides that Pedro will marry Rosaura, she insists that Tita cook the wedding feast, knowing how difficult that task will be for her. When Nacha dies, Mama Elena decides Tita must take full responsibility for the meals on the ranch, which leaves Tita little time for anything else. Tita’s struggle to determine what is the proper degree of obedience due to her mother is a major conflict in the novel.