At the beginning of the novel, Tita was a generally submissive young lady. As the novel progresses, Tita learns to disobey the injustice of her mother, and gradually becomes more and more adept at expressing her inner fire through various means. At first, cooking was her only outlet, but through self-discovery she learned to verbalize and actualize her feelings, and stand up to her despotic mother..
Cruelty and violence
Mama Elena often resorts to cruelty and violence as she forces Tita to obey her. Many of the responsibilities she imposes on Tita, especially those relating to Pedro and Rosaura's wedding, are blatant acts of cruelty, given Tita's pain over losing Pedro. Mama Elena meets Tita's slightest protest with angry tirades and beatings. If she even suspects that Tita has not fulfilled her duties, as when she thought that Tita intentionally ruined the wedding cake, she beats her. When Tita dares to stand up to her mother and to blame her for Roberto's death, Mama Elena smacks her across the face with a wooden spoon and breaks her nose. This everyday cruelty does not seem so unusual, however, in a land where a widow must protect herself and her family from bandits and revolutionaries. However, many readers feel that her setting Pedro on fire and almost killing him is much more severe than her previous actions.
The romantic love that is so exalted throughout the novel is forbidden by Tita's mother in order to blindly enforce the tradition that the youngest daughter be her mother's chaste guardian. However, the traditional etiquette enforced by Mama Elena is defied progressively throughout the novel. This parallels the setting of the Mexican Revolution growing in intensity. The novel further parallels the Mexican Revolution because during the Mexican Revolution the power of the country was in the hands of a select few and the people had no power to express their opinions. Likewise, in Like Water for Chocolate, Mama Elena represents the select few who had the power in their hands, while Tita represents the people because she had no power to express her opinions but had to obey her mother's rules.
Food is also one of the major themes in the story which is seen throughout the story. It is used very creatively to represent the characters feelings and situations.