After spending 4 hours on the remaining 200 pages this afternoon, my first reaction was anger and frustration. Firstly, I didnt understand why Tita cheated on the nice Dr Brown. Secondly, I was led to believe that Tita married Dr Brown in the end but as it turns out, despite the nice Dr Brown being such an understanding character, Tita chose her first love Pedro. Serves her right that he died in the end which led to Tita taking her own life in a very dramatic manner.
From a conservative point of view, perhaps Tita should not have gone against tradition - as the youngest daughter, she should have remained unmarried and looked after her mother.
However, considering the point mentioned about how romance novels are forms of discourse often written by women and for a female public, perhaps I can try to see from Laura Esquivel's point of view. Perhaps being a female, she wasnt sure whether to choose Dr Brown or her first love Pedro and ended up deciding using her heart and not her brain - despite knowing that it's the wrong choice (Esquivel kills off Pedro and Tita in the end).
Perhaps too, Esquivel simply wanted to frustrate male readers like me by deliberately choosing Pedro over Dr Brown to emphasize the point that females have the right to choose and do as they please. I must admit that it's a valid point: Tita never let inhuman tradition and her tyranical mother prevent her from being with her first love. She was brave. She did what she wanted to and not what was deemed the right choice based on societal conservative expectations and norms. I can only envy her courage.
In Like Water for Chocolate, I can only find parallels in Dr Brown - the nice guy who ended up with nothing. Perhaps that's why I didnt quite like this book.
However, things weren't all that bad. At the end of class, a question was asked:
Are gender roles determined by nature or by culture?
I knew my answer was nature. I scribbled in my pink notebook that physically and emotionally, guys are more suited to work. Hence naturally, the next best thing for women would be cooking, cleaning and looking after children.
I didnt raise my hands to speak my mind - not after someone told me that I'd be booed if I said what I wanted to say. However, someone else did and I noted in my pink notebook how funny, but nice, it was for a lady herself to raise her hand and choose nature over culture. I missed what she said and i wished i didnt. Nevertheless, it was a nice new detail to my fairy tale.
I'll also add that while nature could have played a significant role in determining gender roles in the beginning of time, culture takes most of the blame later on. Perhaps back then, us guys were made stronger than women. However, I'm of the view that if a lady thinks she's capable of moving mountains, why not? Why should one foolishly follow silly traditions and practices? Why restrict her to the kitchen?
I should have raised my hand.