Tita and Chencha prepare Chiles in Walnut Sauce for Alex and Esperanza’s wedding to be held the following day. The night before the wedding, Dr. Brown is content. The thought of being near to Tita in just one day fills him with happiness, and he sleeps soundly. Pedro is too jealous to sleep and dislikes the fact that he must see Dr. Brown and Tita together at the wedding. He remembers an instance earlier that day when Dr. Brown gave Tita a box of matches in the kitchen. Pedro believes that Dr. Brown gave Tita the matches just to have an opportunity to stroke her hands in front of him. Enraged, Pedro leaves his bed to go fight Dr. Brown but stops when he realizes the undesirable consequences his actions would have.
As she shells the walnuts, Tita remembers her sister’s death. In fact, just a year prior Rosaura passed away in an odd manner. One night after Rosaura had returned to her room Pedro noticed a horrible stench and a ceaseless sound of gas passing coming from Rosaura’s room. He opened her door and discovered Rosaura dead still expelling gas. Because of the smell that her body gave off very few people attended Rosaura’s funeral. However, many buzzards, attracted by the stench, were in attendance.
On the day of the wedding, Gertrudis and Juan Alejandrez enter the wedding in true fashion. Gertrudis is the proud owner of a T Ford coupe and both she and Juan are dressed extravagantly. Tita and Pedro share a dance to “The Eyes of the Youth” and Pedro proposes that they get married.
Pedro, Rosaura and Tita had made a pact earlier that Pedro and Tita could carry on their love affair, so long as society and Esperanza believed that Pedro and Rosaura were still happily wed. Under this agreement, Rosaura agreed to be friendly towards both Pedro and Tita and to entrust care of Esperanza to Tita. Tita fights for Esperanza’s right to go to school, even though Rosaura contends that Esperanza does not need any education beyond learning to sing, dance, and play the piano. She also contests Rosaura’s attempts to keep Alex, Dr. Brown’s son, from courting Esperanza. With Rosaura’s death and Esperanza’s betrothal, Pedro decides to fill his lifelong wish of being with Tita.
Once again, Tita’s dish causes the wedding guests to behave strangely. This time the Chiles cause all of the guests to feel desirous for their lovers. Guests begin to leave in droves to engage in lovemaking in various places. Dr. Brown notices the heat and smell of the sexual attraction between Pedro and Tita and decides to leave the party. His departure saddens Tita but she is glad to have a chance to love Pedro freely.
Tita and Pedro enter the dark room where they had met secretly many times before. Each of them notices that the furniture is absent and the room rearranged. The bedspread that Tita wove covers Gertrudis’ old bed and 250 candles light the room. Pedro and Tita both credit the other for rearranging the room but neither notices Nacha’s ghost sitting in the corner lighting one last candle before disappearing. As Pedro and Tita passionately make love, all the animals flee from the ranch. Enjoying herself immensely, Tita remembers Dr. Brown’s warning about lighting all of one’s matches at once. According to Dr. Brown, when this happens, a tunnel appears leading to one’s forgotten origin, and the soul departs from the body. As Tita tries to control her breathing to prevent this from happening, she realizes Pedro has already died atop her from lighting all of his matches at once.
Tita fears that without Pedro she will never again be able to light all of her matches at once and as a result will never be able to see Pedro again. She covers herself in her bedspread to block out a chill she has already begun to sense. Determined to light her candles, even non-traditionally, Tita swallows the box of candles John gave her the day before. As she chews the candles, Tita reminisces about her and Pedro in order to light the candles on fire. Soon enough Tita joins Pedro in the tunnel, and the two are joined eternally.
Tita and Pedro’s bodies spark and set fire to the bedspread, which then sets fire to the entire ranch. The dark room becomes a volcano and shoots rocks into the air. Initially, neighboring villagers think that the volcanic rocks are fireworks set off to celebrate Alex and Esperanza’s wedding. However, when the explosions do not stop for a week they go to the ranch to investigate. When they arrive, all that remains is a layer of ash. Esperanza, the narrator’s mother, returns from her honeymoon and unearths Tita’s cookbook from the ash. After Esperanza dies, she passes the cookbook on to her daughter. Later the ash makes the land on the ranch incredibly fertile.
Esperanza builds an apartment building on the ranch and she and her family live off the fresh fruits and vegetables from the land. It is on this land where the makes cinnamon rolls to celebrate her birthday. She expects her father, Alex to visit and celebrate with her. The narrator wonders why she has never been able to make cinnamon rolls as well as her mother and why she always cries when cooking them. She muses that she must be sensitive to onions like her great-aunt Tita.
As the final chapter, it is fitting that “December” resolves many of the ongoing conflicts of the novel. It sums up many of the sub-plots in the work.
Finally, Tita and Pedro are able to be together in a way that neither disrespects Rosaura nor places limitations on their passion. In the theme of Esquivel’s magical realism genre, the place where they can be together is beyond Earth. Their bodies remain and their souls flee together. Ironically, Dr. Brown’s advice helps Tita realize her dream of being with Pedro. Otherwise, she may never have known the reason for Pedro’s death.
Esquivel heightens the sense of magic and fantasy in the conclusion of the work. The chapter includes another instance of food inciting sudden changes in behavior but it also includes the reappearance of Nacha’s ghost and a fantastical and dramatic display of the capabilities of passionate love to impact the entire surrounding environment.
By the end of this chapter, many of the main characters have died. However, as Esquivel shows in previous chapters, death does not always mean the end for many characters. Indeed, it seems that death brings life to Pedro and Tita’s often frustrated relationship. The symbolic death of the ranch, which is consumed by the volcanic lava, later produces amazing grounds for natural production. This chapter shows the many ways that death renews and revives.
The final chapter also reveals whether Tita’s love for Dr. Brown or Tita’s love for Pedro will ultimately prevail. Tita describes her love for both men in vastly different terms. One man calms her while the other excites her and causes physiological changes. Ultimately, the passion and basic carnal attraction between Pedro and Tita outshines the less intense love that existed between her and Dr. Brown. However, the intensity of their passion also leads to the two lovers’ seeming demise.
The final chapter also completes the framed structure of the work. The narrator, Esperanza’s daughter, reintroduces the present day after recounting the history found in Tita’s cookbook. Readers are introduced to the legacy that the De la Garza women left after their deaths.