Like Water for Chocolate

Like Water for Chocolate Summary and Analysis of May


Pedro, Roberto, and Rosaura move to live in San Antonio, and their absence depresses Tita. She has no passion for life except for feeding worms to a baby pigeon that survived a visit by the rebel army. A few days earlier, when the revolutionary army came to the ranch, Tita and Chencha hid in the cellar while Mama Elena defended her property. Gun in petticoat, Mama Elena threatened the army not to touch anything in the house but she allowed them to take stock of the corncrib and stable. The army removed all the birds from the dovecote above the house except for one baby dove, which Tita later found and rescued. Mama Elena never discovered that the man who comes to the ranch is the same man who carried Gertrudis away months earlier.

After this visit by the army, Chencha and Tita prepare northern-style chorizo because of its good taste and ability to stay preserved for a long time. Mama Elena sends the ranch manager’s son Felipe to find out if Pedro and Rosaura are safe in San Antonio, Texas. No one has heard from them since their departure. Tita worries about how the two are feeding Roberto without her breast milk. Her anxieties keep her from sleep for an entire month. All she is able to do is continue sewing her bedspread.

Mama Elena comes into the kitchen while Chencha and Tita are cooking and demands that Tita prepare her bath. This requires an elaborate series of tasks that Tita is unable to complete successfully because of her depression. The bathwater she runs is too hot, she forgets the Aloe for Mama Elena’s hair, leaves the door open too wide (Tita is the only one Mama Elena permits to see her naked), and burns the bottom of her mother’s chemise while ironing. Mama Elena casts Tita out of the room because of her carelessness and Tita decides that she must ignore her feelings and concentrate before she really angers her mother.

Despite her attempts to cast out the memory of Pedro and Roberto, Tita cannot help but remember the night the family slept outside on hammocks because of the heat. That night when Tita woke up to go the bathroom, Pedro followed her, and the two shared a brief intimate moment before Mama Elena called out to see where Tita had gone. Three days after that night Pedro, Rosaura, and Roberto left for San Antonio. Mama Elena and Chencha enter the kitchen and interrupt Ttia’s reminiscences with some tragic news: Roberto died from something he ate. Mama Elena orders the two women to contain their tears and continue working but Tita becomes enraged and begins ripping apart the sausages she has filled and blaming Mama Elena for Roberto’s death. Mama Elena strikes Tita across the face with a wooden spoon and Tita runs away to take refuge in the empty dovecote. Mama Elena orders Chencha to remove the ladder and let Tita remain up there for the entire night.

The next morning Mama Elena orders Chencha to retrieve Tita from the dovecote. Chencha discovers Tita in the dovecote covered in feathers stroking the dead pigeon that she had been feeding but Tita refuses to come down. Unwilling to tolerate, Mama Elena summons Dr. Brown to take Tita to the asylum. Dr. Brown speaks with Tita for a long time and gets her to go away with him in his carriage. In the final moment before Tita leaves Chencha drapes the gigantic bedspread that Tita worked on every night over her shoulder. The bedspread is too large to fit in the carriage and drags behind it resembling the train of a wedding gown.

Though Mama Elena had always been meticulous with the preparation of the sausage, a week later they discover that worms have ravaged all of the sausages.


The loss of loved ones inevitably brings Tita to a breaking point. She loses her sensibilities when she hears that Roberto, the child she miraculously nursed, died from “something he ate.” Tita, who cared so much for him and who could provide the nourishment he needed to be healthy, is furious at Mam Elena for making Pedro and Gertrudis leave the ranch. This anger and sadness drives her to grab hold of something living to care for; the remaining pigeon.

Tita’s choice to take shelter from her mother ultimately leads to the romance between her and Dr. John Brown. Only Dr. Brown is able to coax Tita down from the dovecote and into his home. Dr. Brown’s romantic interest in Tita blindsides Mama Elena who never suspected that he would try to court her youngest daughter.

Tita and Dr. Brown’s departure from the ranch is pictured as a sort of symbolic wedding ceremony. Tita’s bedspread, born from heartsickness, trails behind the carriage like the train of a gown. Though Tita and Dr. Brown are neither betrothed nor engaged, the possibility of marriage for Tita emerges simply from her separation from Mama Elena and the tradition she upholds.

Esquivel ironically brings Mama Elena and Juan Alejandrez back together in this chapter when Alejandrez arrives with some other soldiers to raid the ranch. Neither recognizes the other but once again, Juan Alejandrez seizes some of Mam Elena’s property and flees with it.

This chapter continues the theme of food as a manifestation of human emotions. At the chapter’s end, Tita’s grief over Roberto’s death and anger over her mother’s actions result in a batch of maggot-ridden sausages in Mama Elena’s kitchen.