Water by the Spoonful

by

Quiara Alegría Hughes

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Elliot Ortiz Character Analysis

The protagonist of the play. Elliot is Yaz’s cousin, Odessa’s biological son, and Mami Ginny’s adopted son. He is a 24-year-old, Puerto Rican, wounded Iraq War veteran who lives in North Philadelphia. Although Elliot lived with Odessa as a young child, her crack-induced negligence caused the death of his little sister, and Odessa gave him up to be raised by Mami Ginny. He considers Ginny to be his true mom, demonstrating the dynamic nature of familial relationships. As a result, Elliot despises Odessa and the other crack addicts that she mentors, even though he was secretly addicted to painkillers himself for several months while he was in a military hospital. Elliot is plagued with guilt, which is manifested by the Ghost, both for a man he unnecessarily killed in Iraq as well as for all the ways he could have taken better care of his family. Elliot is also ashamed of how poor he and his Puerto Rican family are, making him an altogether miserable character. However, he is buoyed by his close relationship with Yaz and his aspirations to someday be an actor and escape all of the vices and addictions that plague his family. When Mami Ginny dies of cancer, Elliot—who’d been her caretaker—is given the freedom to leave home and move to Los Angeles to pursue his dream and escape the grim fate so many of his family members have met. Although Elliot never reconciles with or forgives Odessa, he does recognize his own guilt in the ways that he’s hurt her by the end of the story and seems slightly more open to the possibility of reconciling someday in the future.

Elliot Ortiz Quotes in Water by the Spoonful

The Water by the Spoonful quotes below are all either spoken by Elliot Ortiz or refer to Elliot Ortiz. 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:
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Theatre Communications Group edition of Water by the Spoonful published in 2017.
Scene One Quotes

YAZ: You wanna be my witness?

ELLIOT: To What?

YAZ: My now-legal failure. I’m divorced.

ELLIOT: Yaz. I don’t want to hear that.

YAZ: You’ve been saying that for months and I’ve been keeping my mouth closed. I just need a John Hancock.

Related Characters: Elliot Ortiz (speaker), Yaz / Yazmin Ortiz (speaker), William
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Five Quotes

ELLIOT: All those have carnations. I don’t want a carnation within a block of the church.

YAZ: You told me to eliminate seven. I eliminated seven. Close your eyes and point.

ELLIOT: Am I a particularly demanding person?

YAZ: Yes. What’s so wrong with a carnation?

ELLIOT: You know what a carnation says to the world? That they were out of roses at the 7-Eleven.

Related Characters: Elliot Ortiz (speaker), Yaz / Yazmin Ortiz (speaker), Mami Ginny
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

YAZ: […] You know, [William’s] been to four funerals in the Ortiz clan and I could feel it, there was a part of him, under it all, that was disgusted. The open casket. The prayers.

ELLIOT: It is disgusting.

YAZ: Sitting in the pew knowing what freaks we are.

ELLIOT: He’s good people.

YAZ: I was probably at his side doing the same thing, thinking I’m removed, that I’m somehow different.

Related Characters: Elliot Ortiz (speaker), Yaz / Yazmin Ortiz (speaker), William
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

YAZ: […] Look at that guy. Arranging his daisies like little treasures. What do you think it’s like to be him? To be normal?

ELLIOT: Normal? A hundred bucks says that dude has a closet full of animal porno at home.

YAZ: I bet in his family, funerals are rare occasions. I bet he’s never seen a cousin get arrested. Let alone one under the age of eighteen. I bet he never saw his eight-year-old cousin sipping rum through a twisty straw.

Related Characters: Elliot Ortiz (speaker), Yaz / Yazmin Ortiz (speaker)
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Eight Quotes

ELLIOT: Let’s not act like this is some heroic sacrifice. Like this makes her the world’s martyr.

YAZ: We’re not going to get more than fifteen bucks for it.

ELLIOT: Symbols matter, Yaz. This isn’t about the money. This is shaking hands. This is tipping your hat. This is holding the door open. This is the bare minimum. The least effort possible to earn the label “person.”

Related Characters: Elliot Ortiz (speaker), Yaz / Yazmin Ortiz (speaker), Haikumom / Odessa Ortiz
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

YAZ: Why wouldn’t you ask me for help? Why would you deal with that alone?

ELLIOT: The opposite of alone. I seen barracks that looked like dope houses. It was four months in my life, it’s over. We’ve chopped up a lot of shit together, Yaz, but we ain’t gonna chop this up. This shit stays in the vault. You got me?

YAZ: No!

ELLIOT: Yaz. Please. Please.

Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Twelve Quotes

ELLIOT: Titi, Odessa fucking OD’d and she’s dying on her living room floor and I can’t take this anymore! COME GET US before I walk off and leave her on the sofa.

YAZ: If you need to, go. No guilt. I got this.

ELLIOT: She’s my mom. Can I be angry? Can you let me be angry?

Related Characters: Elliot Ortiz (speaker), Yaz / Yazmin Ortiz (speaker), Haikumom / Odessa Ortiz
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Fourteen Quotes

YAZ: […] I wrote a list [of achievements] on a piece of paper and dug a hole in Fairmount Park and put it in the ground and said, “When I turn thirty, I’ll dig it up and cross it all off.” And I promise you I’ll never have the courage to go to that spot with a shovel and face my list full of crumbs, decoys, and bandaids.

Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Fifteen Quotes

ELLIOT: I wanted Mami Odessa to relapse, Yaz. I wanted her to pick up that needle. I knew precisely what to do, what buttons to push, I engineered that shit, I might as well have pushed the thing into her vein. Because I thought, Why would God take the good one? Yo, take the bad mom instead! I was like, Why wouldn’t you take the bad fucking mom? If I stay in Philly, I’m gonna turn into it. I’m gonna become one of them. I’m already hallway there. You’ve got armor, you’ve got ideas, but I don’t.

YAZ: Go. Go and don’t you ever, ever look back.

Related Characters: Elliot Ortiz (speaker), Yaz / Yazmin Ortiz (speaker), Haikumom / Odessa Ortiz
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

YAZ: I’m the elder now. I stay home. I hold down the fort.

Related Characters: Yaz / Yazmin Ortiz (speaker), Elliot Ortiz, Mami Ginny
Related Symbols: Yaz’s Piano
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
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Water by the Spoonful PDF

Elliot Ortiz Character Timeline in Water by the Spoonful

The timeline below shows where the character Elliot Ortiz appears in Water by the Spoonful. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene One
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
Elliot, a Puerto Rican Iraq War veteran who has a permanent limp and is wearing a... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
In response, Yaz tells Elliot that she is finally signing the papers for her divorce from her husband William. Elliot... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Professor Aman, the man who they’d been waiting for, arrives. Elliot asks Yaz to let them speak in private for a couple minutes. After she leaves,... (full context)
Scene Three
Family Theme Icon
Elliot sits behind the counter of a Philadelphia Subway restaurant, answering the phone. A friend of... (full context)
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Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
As Elliot is writing down the customer’s order, a Ghost appears, speaking the same Arabic phrase that... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
Yaz receives a phone call and tells her class to take a short break. Elliot is on the phone, telling her that his dad just texted him to say, “Your... (full context)
Scene Five
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Yaz sits in a flower shop reading brochures. Elliot arrives, his limp even more pronounced. Elliot tells her that he blew off some steam... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
...arrangement to buy for the funeral, hoping for something that looks like Mami Ginny’s garden. Elliot refuses to have anything with carnations since it makes them look poor. Although Yaz has... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
Elliot wants Yaz to conduct the funeral, since she speaks publicly all the time as a... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
Yaz agrees to conduct the service, so long as Elliot will call her ex-husband and tell him not to come to the funeral, since in... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
Yaz and Elliot sit in the flower shop, wondering how they will pay for the arrangement and watching... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
...now, she wishes she’d never been given the prep-school scholarship and left the barrio. Although Elliot thinks it is better that she left, she worries that now that Mami Ginny is... (full context)
Scene Six
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
While the forum members share their favorite recovery slogans with each other, Elliot is in a boxing gym punching a bag, coaching himself to ignore the pain in... (full context)
Scene Seven
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Yaz and Elliot enter and find Odessa, whom Elliot reveals to be his biological mom, though he was... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
However, before John can leave, Elliot asks if he knows what happened to Odessa’s daughter. Odessa is pained and angry, but... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Despite how sick Elliot is, Odessa’s tenderness and the attention she is paying his sister and him feel wonderful.... (full context)
Scene Eight
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
In Odessa’s living room, Elliot and Yaz look at Odessa’s “stone age” computer. Yaz remarks that the computer is the... (full context)
Scene Ten
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Yaz and Elliot stand together at the front of a church, conducting Mami Ginny’s funeral and commemorating her... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
As Yaz and Elliot are speaking, Odessa sits in her living room with a cup of water and a... (full context)
Scene Twelve
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Orangutan lies asleep on the train platform in Sapporo. At Odessa’s house, Yaz and Elliot yell for her outside her locked door. When she does not answer, Elliot kicks the... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
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Yaz calls her own mom, since she will likely be faster than the ambulance, and Elliot grabs the phone and tells her that she needs to hurry and get here before... (full context)
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...if she must. The light disappears as the ambulance arrives, and Yaz tells a confused Elliot that he must forgive his mom. (full context)
Scene Fourteen
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Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
Elliot tells her to close the computer; he doesn’t want to be reminded of Philadelphia while... (full context)
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Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
Elliot thinks those goals sound okay, but Yaz denies it, especially compared to what Odessa did... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
...to make a phone call, and as soon as she is gone, the Ghost appears. Elliot calls for Yaz but she does not return. As the Ghost reaches to touch Elliot,... (full context)
Scene Fifteen
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
In Puerto Rico, Elliot stands on an outcropping overlooking a waterfall. Yaz is distracted, digging up plants and putting... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
Elliot is excited for her. However, as they get ready to toss Mami Ginny’s ashes over... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
Elliot confesses to Yaz that he wanted Odessa to relapse and overdose, and that he knew... (full context)