Friday, March 7, 2008

Latin-American Women Writers

Latin-American female authors wrote both Like Water for Chocolate and In the Time of the Butterflies. “These writers are women and they concentrate on the experiences and relationships of women in Latin America, thereby providing a rich field in which to discuss the issues of gender, race, and class” says Myriam Yvonne Jehenson, author of Latin American Women Writers.
In the Time of the Butterflies is no exception; it provides many opportunities to discuss gender. The fight for women equality is a major theme in In the Time of the Butterflies as the Mirabal sisters fought against Trujillo. The Mirabal sister's biggest problem always seem to be men. Take a look at Kristen's blog titled Ugh, men. Kristen describes their rebellion; "The girls have defied the men around them left and right. Minerva, the spunky one, even took it to the level of slapping the blessed cheek of Trujillo when he made a pass at her on the dance floor". The girls are expected to act a certain way that the men dictate for them. After reading various summaries, this seems to be the case in my next book, Like Water for Chocolate. The main character, a female, is forbidden to marry because of society's expectations.

Another stereotypical view of women in Latin American, is that they are solely for household chores, such as caring for the children and cooking. From the title it's obvious that cooking is a major theme of Like Water for Chocolate. In Jehenson’s book about Latin-American female authors, she says “women are reappropriating household metaphors to revalorize them for serious critical purposes". She continues to name other works by influential writers, "Rosario Castellanos employs this technique in "Lección de cocina" ("Cooking Lesson") in Album de familia (1971; Family Album). An excellent collection of feminist writings bears the title El sartén por el mango: encuentro de escritoras latinoamericanas (1985; The Frying Pan by the Handle: Meeting of Latin-American Women Writers). Debra Castillo Talking Back: Toward a Latin-American Feminist Literary Criticism ( 1992) begins and ends with culinary and household metaphors. Cooking is the central trope of Laura Esquivel's best-selling book and even more successful movie, "Como agua para chocolate" ("Like Water For Chocolate").”
How will Esquivel make this cooking metaphor her own and how will it relate to the novel? I'll have to wait to find out as I start to read.

Laura Esquivel
author of Like Water for Chocolate

Julie Alvarez
author of In the Time of the Butterflies