Fire Within: A Dying Desire in Like Water for Chocolate
“She would have to find some way, even if it was an artificial one, of striking a fire that would light the way back to her origin and to Pedro” (p. 244). Laura Esquivel uses many symbols like in this quote throughout her book Like Water for Chocolate. The magical realism gives the book unrealistic symbols. These symbols also have a real meaning behind them. When Tita falls in love with Pedro, fire is used to portray the love between them. There were many instances that involved fire but the main one that stood out was the last scene in the book: the dying scene.
In the dying scene, Tita and Pedro make love together. They are finally alone and can love each other freely. Pedro dies during this sexual encounter. Tita remembers what John said about phosphorus bursting to flames when combining to oxygen — “each person has to discover what will set off those explosions in order to live, since the combustion that occurs when one of them is ignited is what nourishes the soul” (p.115) Pedro was the one who set off her matches that were inside her. She wanted to relive the passion forever so she tried to die along side of him. Tita wraps herself up with the blanket she had made for him and starts one by one eating the candles. With each one, she remembered their relationship and the passion they shared between them. The candles, or matches in the movie, are when the fire comes along. They slowly begin to catch her mouth on fire until she sees the “splendid tunnel” (p. 244) to her death. It is the real meaning behind fire because that it how it turns into a flame.
Matches could also signify the desire that they had for each other. Desire is described as a fire sensation within the body. Some kind of attraction starts off the process. The more and more the attraction increases, the grander the flame of desire. There comes a point where the desire levels off and the couple becomes content with each other. The desire then is able to die off or rekindle with each new match being burnt within. With the couple in Like Water for Chocolate, the desire continues to burn inside them as they “were making a powerful effort to keep their sexual impulses under control” (p. 242). For twenty-two years, the couple was “discreet about their meetings and [kept] their love a secret” (p. 237) until they died. They let the passion flow within them — letting the match light the flames inside.
Love can grow like a fire. There is a spark that has to initiate the flame. Once it has lit, the flame appears. The flame rises with more sparks added until it can no longer burn and is then released. The flame disappears but the smoke remains. This demonstration is like love. There is a spark between two people. It could be feeling of compatible personalities or physical attraction that begins the relationship. In the movie, Pedro has a deep physical attraction to Tita. As she catches a glimpse of him, he starts to pursue after her. The physical attraction in this case would be the spark. The continuance of the romance is the flame. Each moment they were able to be with one another caused another spark. Another spark lit the ‘flame’ and rekindled the fire between the two. If they truly care for the significant other, then their feelings grow with each day of the relationship. The fire grows and grows until it distinguishes. The romance grew and grew until the fire burns out when the bodies have died. The flame is gone but the remaining love is still there in the smoke. The souls remain unseen but still together.
After the flame had lived out it’s life, it diminishes. Smoke lingers in the air along with the horrible smell. The souls of Tita and Pedro left their bodies for the tunnel like John had predicted. The fire is still between the couple even though the souls have left. “A layer of ash several yards high covered the entire ranch” where Tita lived (p. 246). Ash is also left behind after the candle as fully burned. The house burnt for a week just like the finale of a candle. It was the only thing left to see from the love of Tita and Pedro besides the cookbook that had all her recipes and explanation of the events of those days. Desire was cooked through her food and suppressed until twenty years later when they could be together. Their souls remained in the food like smoke would linger in the air. It would be recreated with every meal or every fire.
In the book, Pedro dies and goes through the death tunnel to where the origin of soul once lived. Tita recreates the fire to die with him. If she hadn’t, her desire would never be fulfilled by anyone. Her lover had left her and she could no longer have those feelings released. Fire has many uses throughout the book. It best demonstrates fire like desire. There is a certain process that a flame goes through. It never changes and it differs in size. Romance is similar because everyone feels it differently. The exception is the way it changes for each couple. Tita and Pedro’s relationship was irregular while Pedro and Rosuara’s was more consistent. Like a flame of a candle in a lantern, it can only get so big before burning out. Love molds to the people involved and if smoldered will also burn out. Though the tragic couple perished together, it just shows us the difference between desire and love. Love would be considered more constant like fire. Desire on the other hand is lustful, meaning it’s quick. The relationship seems like a love story when it was always a desire between the two. Desire doesn’t last forever. This is shown in the book when they died as soon as they were able to be together. This means that the couple had a dying desire. It perished the more it sparked because the sparks weren’t genuine.