Non-Western Literature

Discussion Questions for Esquivel


These questions should be reviewed before reading the material, as well as after. Be prepared to answer these questions in class.
  1. Magical Realism is a form of writing in which an otherwise realistic work will all of a sudden have something utterly fantastic happen, like a sad woman crying so much that she creates a new river, and then treats that fantastic event just like every other "real" event. How is magical realism used in this novel, and how does it affect your reading of the novel?

  2. There is a sense of cosmic justice in this novel, in that the major characters who die all die in a symbolic way that reflects how they lived their life. Explain how those deaths are symbolic.

  3. At the turn of the century, the only reading material that most Latin women had available was a combination almanac, calendar, cookbook, advice manual that came out each year in a new edition. How is Laura Esquivel using this type of work as a template for this novel? Why is it significant that she's using this type of book as her model?

  4. In July, Tita learns the truth about her mother and Gertrudis' parentage. How does this revelation change your understanding of Mama Elena's actions.

  5. Once again, we have an author telling a story as a memory. Why? What do we gain by having this story be a memory, rather than told as though it were happening in real time?