Like Water for Chocolate

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Heat and Fire Symbol Icon

Fire in the novel represents the effects of love and passion on the human spirit. According to the philosophy of Morning Light, each person is born with a box of matches inside their body. To light the flame, they need the “oxygen” that is the breath of a loved one, and the “candle” that is the right combination of music, words, food or other medium that allows emotions to rise and burn with life. At the same time, if too many matches are lit at once, the soul has to leave the body. When this happens to Tita and Pedro as they make love at the end of the novel, their inner flames are so intense that their bodies catch fire and form a volcano. The significance of heat is reinforced in the scene when Gertrudis’ body becomes so hot with her arousal that she catches the shower on fire.

Heat and Fire Quotes in Like Water for Chocolate

The Like Water for Chocolate quotes below all refer to the symbol of Heat and Fire. 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 3: March Quotes

It was as if a strange alchemical process had dissolved her entire being in the rose petal sauce, in the tender flesh of the quails, in the wine, in every one of the meal’s aromas. That was the way she entered Pedro’s body, hot, voluptuous, perfumed, totally sensuous.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Gertrudis, Pedro Musquiz
Related Symbols: Heat and Fire
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

The De la Garza family is at the dinner table eating Tita’s quail in rose petal sauce. This is the meal that awakens in Gertrudis such an insatiable physical lust that the heat from her body causes the shower to catch fire and provides the catalyst for her to run away with captain Juan Alejandrez.

Tita’s cooking, infused with her own lustful thoughts about Pedro, makes Pedro feel as if he were devouring Tita herself—or as if Tita were “entering” him, in a reversal of the archetypal masculine/feminine sexual roles. Tita’s passion and creativity creates texture and life in her food, speaking to the power of food as an intimate, sensory experience. Pedro and Tita’s repressed desire then creates such energy that it transforms eating into an act of sexual intimacy. The metaphor of devouring Tita’s flesh through her food alludes to the Catholic concept of the communion bread transforming into Christ’ body. Tita and Pedro’s love, however sinful by religious standards, holds such devotion and sacrifice that it evokes religious imagery. Their love, not their belief systems, is the thing most sacred to them.

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Chapter 4: April Quotes

She stopped grinding, straightened up, and proudly lifted her chest so Pedro could see it better. His scrutiny changed their relationship forever. After that penetrating look that saw through clothes, nothing would ever be the same. Tita saw through her own flesh how fire transformed the elements, how a lump of corn flour is changed into a tortilla, how a soul that hasn’t been warmed by the fire of love is lifeless, like a useless ball of corn flour. In a few moment’s time, Pedro had transformed Tita’s breasts from chaste to experienced flesh, without even touching them.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Pedro Musquiz
Related Symbols: Heat and Fire
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

Rosaura has just given birth to her first child, Roberto, and Tita is preparing food for his baptism. Pedro walks into the kitchen to find Tita alone, kneeling on the floor over a bowl, rhythmically grinding the nuts for the turkey mole.

Since Pedro’s marriage to Rosaura, he and Tita have not yet kissed or been intimate in any physical way. Tita’s virginity still feels like a burden to her, a reminder of her lost love and her lack of control over her future. Her virginity is strongly connected to her hopelessness and loneliness. The sexual gaze of the man she loves, then, is enough to make Tita feel unchaste and “experienced,” making her feel alive again. The symbol of fire is especially significant, as fire represents the effect of love and passion on the human spirit. The fire of Pedro’s gaze “transforms” Tita in the way that fire transforms corn flour into tortillas. Tita often identifies with food, reflecting how she sees cooking as an ongoing point of reference for understanding the world.

Chapter 6: June Quotes

You must of course take care to light the matches one at a time. If a powerful emotion should ignite them all at once, they would produce a splendor so dazzling that it would illuminate far beyond what we can normally see; and then a brilliant tunnel would appear before our eyes, revealing the path we forgot the moment we were born, and summoning us to regain the divine origin we had lost. The soul ever longs to return to the place from which it came, leaving the body lifeless.

Related Characters: Dr. John Brown (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Morning Light/ “The Old Indian Woman”/ “The Kikapu”
Related Symbols: Heat and Fire
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:

While sitting in his laboratory with Tita, John teaches her how to make matches from phosphorous. He also explains to her the philosophy of love he learned from his grandmother, Morning Light. According to her, each human carries a box matches inside them. A loved one’s breath is the oxygen, and any kind of music, food, or other sensory experience that moves human emotions is the candle. When a loved one’s breath is combined with such a sensory experience, one of the matches is lit.

Here, John explains what will happen if “all of the matches are lit at once.” This situation represents the consummation of the right love under perfect circumstances. According to Morning Light, the human need for love is associated with the human desire for the soul to “return to the place from which it came.” In her theory, love is a spiritual relationship that is essential to the journey of the soul through life. Experiences of love aren’t unique events, but regular occurrences that keep the soul warmed and drive humans forward. True love also isn’t peaceful in its nature, but thrives on fire – a volatile and dangerous element. If all of one’s inner flames are lit at once – if a person feels and expresses love at its fullest capacity – the soul reaches a state that resembles enlightenment or heaven, and leaves the body “lifeless.”

Chapter 7: July Quotes

He left because I had exhausted his strength, though he hadn’t managed to quench the fire inside me. Now at last, after so many men have been with me, I feel a great relief. Perhaps someday I will return home and explain it to you.

Related Characters: Gertrudis (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Juan Alejandrez
Related Symbols: Heat and Fire
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

While Tita is staying at Dr. John Brown’s house, Chencha brings her a letter from Gertrudis. Gertrudis describes her life since she ran away to make love with Juan Alejandrez. After some time with him, he left her and she began working at a brothel.

The tone of Gertrudis’ letter is shameless and triumphant. To Gertrudis, her lust and her sexual adventures are no cause for embarrassment or ridicule. She doesn’t see herself as the object of male lust, but rather as the instigator of sexual passion. Gertrudis’ character provides a foil to traditional sexual dynamics, which frame the male as more dominant/active and the female as more passive. She also contrasts with Tita herself, who is passionate but who often waits for Pedro’s advances. Gertrudis’ attitude allows her to characterize a new kind of modern and empowered female sexuality.

Chapter 12: December Quotes

Little by little her vision began to brighten until the tunnel again appeared before her eyes. There at its entrance was the luminous figure of Pedro waiting for her. Tita did not hesitate. She let herself go to the encounter, and they wrapped each other in a long embrace; again experiencing an amorous climax, they left together for the lost Eden. Never again would they be apart.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tita de la Garza, Rosaura , Pedro Musquiz , Esperanza
Related Symbols: Heat and Fire
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Tita and Pedro make love after Esperanza and Alex’s wedding. For years, they have continued their affair in secret, busy with managing Rosaura’s feelings and demands, as well as navigating the task of raising Esperanza. Until now, they have never been able to fully express their love without other anxieties or concerns. Now, they have the opportunity to pursue a life together without shame.

This scene validates the theory of Morning Light, which held that when love finds its perfect expression, all of one’s “inner flames” will be lit. Earlier in the passage, Tita resisted the tunnel’s first appearance, feeling she wasn’t ready to die yet. Now, however, she doesn’t “hesitate” when she sees Pedro waiting for her. They climax again together, meaning that they continue sexual intimacy even after death.

What awaits them is described as the “lost Eden,” which is a symbolic choice for numerous reasons. It is the Biblical first home of humankind, and therefore the place of creation. Pedro and Tita’s death is not the end, but the return to the beginning. Further, Eden was the home of Adam and Eve during a time of innocence before the fall of mankind. Through death, Pedro and Tita seem to achieve a clean slate. Even as they continue to have sex in the afterlife, they are without sin because they return to a state of being that predates the Christian concept of sin.

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Heat and Fire Symbol Timeline in Like Water for Chocolate

The timeline below shows where the symbol Heat and Fire appears in Like Water for Chocolate. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: January – “Christmas Rolls.”
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
...When he looked at her from across the room, her pulse rose and she felt hot, her body burning like “dough when it is plunged into boiling oil.” Pedro later followed... (full context)
Chapter 3: March – “Quail in Rose Petal Sauce”
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
Food and Cooking Theme Icon
...despite Mama Elena’s disapproval. Rosaura, stricken with morning sickness, barely eats. Gertrudis, however, feels very hot, affected supernaturally by Tita’s food. Feeling a rush of sexual desire, she begins to imagine... (full context)
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
...to use the outside shower that Mama Elena has rigged up, her body is so hot that the water evaporates in the air before it can reach her. Pedro and Tita... (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
Violence and Abuse Theme Icon
...on her bedspread. Looking up at the night sky, she hopes that some of the heat from Gertrudis’ love will travel back through the stars to warm her, but she is... (full context)
Chapter 4: April - “Turkey Mole with Almonds and Sesame Seeds”
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
Food and Cooking Theme Icon
...of intimacy with her. Pedro comes into the kitchen and finds Tita grinding almonds, the heat causing sweat to drip down her shirt between her breasts. They share a sexually charged... (full context)
Chapter 5: May – “Northern Style Chorizo”
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Violence and Abuse Theme Icon
While finishing the sausage casings, Tita remembers a hot night not long before. Tita had awoken in the middle of the night to use... (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
...her spirit, she is now working in a brothel because he alone couldn’t “quench the fire” inside her. Chencha explains that Mama Elena has forbidden any mention of Tita’s name, and... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
Violence and Abuse Theme Icon
...where he unofficially proposes marriage to her. Tita thinks that John has rekindled her inner fire, and she hopes that the pleasure she takes from his company will eventually grow into... (full context)
Chapter 8: August – “Champandongo”
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
While taking a shower, Tita feels the water get magically hot, and realizes that Pedro is watching her between the shower boards. She runs to her... (full context)
Chapter 10: October – “Cream Fritters”
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
Violence and Abuse Theme Icon
...that she wasn’t pregnant after all. Outside Tita’s window, the tiny light turns into a firecracker, which crashes into an oil lamp and catches Pedro on fire. Gertrudis stomps out the... (full context)
Chapter 12: December: “Chiles in Walnut Sauce.”
Tradition vs. Revolution Theme Icon
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Food and Cooking Theme Icon
...reacquainted with him at a party. When he looked at her, she says, she felt hot like “dough being plunged in boiling oil.” Upon hearing this, Tita knew they would be... (full context)
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Emotion and Repression Theme Icon
...the tunnel, Pedro awaits her, and she joins him. After they die, their bodies catch fire. The dark room becomes a volcano, shooting sparks so high and bright that people mistake... (full context)
Femininity and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Food and Cooking Theme Icon
...and Alex return from their honeymoon, they find the ranch covered in ash from the fire, with nothing remaining but Tita’s cookbook. Afterwards the land surrounding the ranch became famous for... (full context)