Like Water for Chocolate

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Chencha Character Analysis

Chencha is the De la Garza’s maid and Tita’s friend. She begins working at the ranch at a young age. She skillfully uses hard work and imaginative lies to manage Mama Elena’s cruel dominion. With the other women in the household, she likes to tell fantastical, astonishing stories. As a young woman, her parents separate her from her sweetheart, Jesús. While working at the ranch, she is raped by a rebel troop and suffers a terrible depression. Later, she reunites with Jesús and the two marry and have a baby. Chencha and Tita have a deep, loyal friendship that lasts through the years.

Chencha Quotes in Like Water for Chocolate

The Like Water for Chocolate quotes below are all either spoken by Chencha or refer to Chencha. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Anchor Books edition of Like Water for Chocolate published in 1995.
Chapter 7: July Quotes

You know how men are. They all say they won’t eat off a plate that isn’t clean.

Related Characters: Chencha (speaker), Tita de la Garza
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

After the bandits rape Chencha, she enters a dark and enduring depression. She explains to Tita that what upsets her most is her fear that no man will want her now that she is no longer a virgin. It is noteworthy that Chencha doesn’t talk about the trauma of her experience or her own sense of anger or loss. What she focuses on is how this experience will affect her future prospects at love and marriage, in a society where men value virginity. The social consequences of rape fill Chencha with anxiety, robbing her of the mental space to process her deeper emotions about the traumatic event.

Chencha’s choice of words in this passage draws attention to the male views of women that Chencha has encountered in her life experience. In the expression she references, women are pictured as the “plate” from which men “eat.” In this metaphor, sexual experiences are the food, men the consumers, and women the medium or vessel from which men consume—a kind of perverse twisting of the (usually positive) food and cooking imagery of the novel. To Chencha, this degree of male objectification of women is not reprehensible but to be expected. Though her society does not condemn men for these views, it is clear that the novel does. Furthermore, the novel offers several positive portrayals of male characters who value women regardless of their virginity or sexual histories, such as Chencha’s future husband Jesús, Gertrudis’ husband Juan Alejandrez, and Dr. John Brown.

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Chencha Character Timeline in Like Water for Chocolate

The timeline below shows where the character Chencha appears in Like Water for Chocolate. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: January – “Christmas Rolls.”
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Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
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...says Tita isn’t available. She offers to let him marry her oldest daughter, Rosaura instead. Chencha, the maid, goes into the kitchen and angrily tells Tita and Nacha about Pedro’s proposal... (full context)
Chapter 2: February – “Chabela Wedding Cake.”
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...Rosaura, but she refused to listen. She ran away, into the room where Gertrudis and Chencha were embroidering imported wedding sheets with a chastity opening so that the couple could have... (full context)
Chapter 4: April - “Turkey Mole with Almonds and Sesame Seeds”
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Tita barely listens when Chencha comes in from town with a vivid story about a bloody battle between the federal... (full context)
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Rosaura goes into labor, and Pedro goes to get Dr. Brown. Mama Elena and Chencha travel to get supplies they will need for the baby, which they haven’t been able... (full context)
Chapter 5: May – “Northern Style Chorizo”
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Chencha is making pork sausage, or chorizo, while trying to fill a bath for Mama Elena.... (full context)
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Mama Elena enters the room with Chencha, who has just returned from San Antonio. Chencha tearfully tells Mama Elena the news that... (full context)
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The next day, Chencha finds Tita naked, vacantly staring into space, trying to feed worms to her dead baby... (full context)
Chapter 7: July – “Ox-Tail Soup”
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Chencha prepares Nacha’s recipe for ox-tail soup, and makes the dangerous journey across occupied territories to... (full context)
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After Chencha leaves, John takes Tita to an elegant party, where he unofficially proposes marriage to her.... (full context)
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When Chencha arrives home, a group of bandits attack the ranch. They violently rape Chencha and when... (full context)
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Following the rape, Chencha goes into a deep depression, believing that no man will marry her now. Tita tries... (full context)
Chapter 8: August – “Champandongo”
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Chencha arrives at the ranch with her quiet, gentle new husband, Jesús. Tita is overjoyed to... (full context)
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...raise a toast, but Pedro clinks his glass with so much aggression that it shatters. Chencha diffuses the ensuing confusion by calling everyone into dinner. John explains he must travel to... (full context)
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...sees an explosion of colors coming from the storage room. She calls for Tita, but Chencha comes instead. They mistake the phenomenon for Mama Elena’s ghost, and Chencha prays for Mama... (full context)
Chapter 9: September – “Chocolate and Three Kings’ Day Bread”
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...Gertrudis would come back to help her. Tita tries tell Pedro about her pregnancy, but Chencha interrupts to explain that their neighbors, the Loboses, have arrived. Mama Elena’s ghost glares at... (full context)
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...troop joins Tita’s family and their neighbors as they celebrate the bread and chocolate, with Chencha working to feed everyone. Gertrudis relishes the chocolate, which brings back memories and fills her... (full context)
Chapter 11: November – “Beans with Chile Tezcucana Style”
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...Mary. Tita is planning to break off her engagement with John, and she feels empty. Chencha has just had a baby, so Tita is alone. She has nursed Pedro for a... (full context)
Chapter 12: December: “Chiles in Walnut Sauce.”
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Tita and Chencha are tirelessly preparing chiles in walnut sauce for a wedding banquet. The narrator states that... (full context)
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Chencha is among the last to leave, asking permission to go and find her husband at... (full context)