Like Water for Chocolate

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Crying/ Tears Symbol Icon

Abundant crying is an expression of a full heart, and is associated with the power and richness of female emotions. Tita’s tears have supernatural power, even before she is born. From the womb, she cries while her mother chops onions and causes her to go into labor. Her tears continue until the floor is flooded. As she grows up in the kitchen, she frequently cries, especially while chopping onions. This makes her and Nacha laugh, causing Tita to see tears and laughter as one and the same. Mama Elena, the novel’s cold-hearted antagonist, forbids crying. Tita doesn’t cry often as an adult, as Mama Elena forbids it. This may explain why Tita’s joyous tears run down the stairs of John’s house when Chencha comes to visit her.

Crying/ Tears Quotes in Like Water for Chocolate

The Like Water for Chocolate quotes below all refer to the symbol of Crying/ Tears. 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 1: January Quotes

Sometimes she would cry for no reason at all, like when Nacha chopped onions, but since they both knew the cause of those tears, they didn’t pay them much mind. They made them a source of entertainment, so that during her childhood Tita didn’t distinguish between tears of laughter and tears of sorrow. For her laughter was a form of crying. Likewise for Tita the joy of living was wrapped up in the delights of food.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Nacha
Related Symbols: Crying/ Tears
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator emphasizes Tita’s wide range of emotions, which she naturally embraces before she learns to repress them. Tita is a sensitive and passionate person, who loves the different textures and experiences that human emotion brings. Within the novel, crying is a often symbol of the depth and power of female emotion.

The narrator immediately connects Tita’s emotional depth to her intense relationship with food, which provides Tita a means for rich sensory experiences, creativity and self-expression. The narrator makes this observation about Tita after describing Tita’s childhood. Born on the kitchen table and left to the care of Nacha, the cook, Tita developed a love of cooking as a child. She played in the kitchen, and loved trying new and strange foods.

By connecting Tita’s emotional depth to her relationship with food, the narrator foreshadows the magical ability Tita later develops of infusing her repressed emotions into her cooking.

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Chapter 4: April Quotes

The baby’s cries filled all the empty space in Tita’s heart. She realized that she was feeling a new love; for life, for this child, for Pedro, even for the sister she had despised for so long. She took the child in her hands, carried him to Rosaura, and they wept together for a long while, holding the child.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Rosaura , Roberto
Related Symbols: Crying/ Tears
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

Tita has just delivered Rosaura’s first child, Roberto. Before his birth, Tita had no interest in the child. Now, Tita’s emotions surprise her. Her instant affection for her nephew, whom she could easily have hated as the product of Rosaura and Pedro’s marriage, provides a testimony to Tita’s deeply loving and nurturing character.

It also reveals the novel’s emphasis on birth, babies, and fertility as symbols of new beginnings and hope. For a long time, Rosaura and Tita have both been insecure and miserable, each nurturing a sense of resentment. Now, even Rosaura, who is usually so focused on outward appearances, can’t help but feel genuine emotion and connection. Tita, whose emotions and desire for connection are always so powerful, allows Roberto to penetrate her heart and prevent her from drowning in her loneliness. Even if for just a moment, their shared love of Roberto washes the slate clean for them both and provides them hope for the future.

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Crying/ Tears Symbol Timeline in Like Water for Chocolate

The timeline below shows where the symbol Crying/ Tears appears in Like Water for Chocolate. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: January – “Christmas Rolls.”
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
Food and Cooking Theme Icon
Beginning with a recipe for Christmas sausage rolls, the unnamed narrator describes how she cries whenever she chops the onion, just like her great-aunt Tita used to. She then tells... (full context)
Chapter 2: February – “Chabela Wedding Cake.”
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
Food and Cooking Theme Icon
...Tita is in a terrible state. She embraces Tita, telling her to let out her tears, because she won’t be able to cry at the wedding the next day. Nacha is... (full context)
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
Food and Cooking Theme Icon
...the day she saw Rosaura’s sheets, Tita begins to see white everywhere again and her tears return. She is crying into the fondant cake icing when Nacha sends her to bed.... (full context)
Chapter 4: April - “Turkey Mole with Almonds and Sesame Seeds”
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
Violence and Abuse Theme Icon
...Nacha’s spirit. Rosaura pushes the baby out, and Tita catches him. They hold Roberto and cry together, and Tita is overcome with love for him and even for Rosaura. Tita hears... (full context)
Chapter 5: May – “Northern Style Chorizo”
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
Food and Cooking Theme Icon
Violence and Abuse Theme Icon
Mama Elena enters the room with Chencha, who has just returned from San Antonio. Chencha tearfully tells Mama Elena the news that baby Roberto is dead because of something he ate.... (full context)
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
Violence and Abuse Theme Icon
...Brown to take Tita to an insane asylum. He arrives and takes Tita with him. Crying, Chencha runs after the carriage to give Tita her bedspread. Tita has spent years crocheting... (full context)
Chapter 6: June – “A Recipe for Making Matches”
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
Violence and Abuse Theme Icon
...tunnel that carries the soul away. People with cold breath can kill the flame. Tita cries, and John wipes her tears. Tita then realizes that the old woman from before is... (full context)
Chapter 7: July – “Ox-Tail Soup”
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
Food and Cooking Theme Icon
...makes the dangerous journey across occupied territories to bring it to Tita. The two women cry in each other’s arms, creating a stream that flows through John’s house. They eat, laughing... (full context)
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
At Mama Elena’s funeral, Tita finally cries, “not for the castrating mother who had repressed Tita her entire life, but for the... (full context)
Chapter 8: August – “Champandongo”
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
...Pedro agrees. The glimmer from the engagement ring reminds Tita of Pedro’s eyes, and she cries. Rosaura mistakes Tita’s tears for joy, and she feels happy, the burden of her own... (full context)
Chapter 10: October – “Cream Fritters”
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Food and Cooking Theme Icon
...from childhood. Seeing that Tita is distracted, Gertrudis asks her what’s wrong. Tita breaks down crying, revealing that she is pregnant and that she is afraid that “the truth” will destroy... (full context)
Chapter 11: November – “Beans with Chile Tezcucana Style”
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...that his aunt is deaf and reads lips, but can’t read them in Spanish. Tita tearfully confesses that she has lost her virginity to another man and therefore can’t marry John.... (full context)
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
...that he has deduced the other man to be Pedro. Overwhelmed, she excuses herself to cry outside. Throughout the rest of the dinner with Aunt Mary, John treats Tita just as... (full context)