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In Laura Esquivels Like Water for Chocolate, and Ariel Dorfmans Death and the Maiden, both central women characters are aggrieved and both embark on a search for amendment. Though the emotions of inability to love and anger experienced by the charac

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The Search for Atonement: Readers' Response Atonement is a stage of recovery every victim looks for. Whether the motive is retribution or placation, the desire for reparation of a wrong exists. In Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, and Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden, both central women characters are aggrieved and both embark on a search for amendment. Though the emotions of inability to love and anger experienced by the characters in the two events are fairly similar, Esquivel's choice of diction and character development serves to justify Tita's search for atonement while Dorfman's use of such literary techniques creates the antithesis effect for Paulina. As a result, readers support the actions of Esquivel's character but do not take complete sympathy with that of Dorfman's. In both works, the author starts with a "crime" and then transitions into the theme of atonement. Tita, the youngest daughter of the De La Garza family, is denied marriage to Pedro by Mama Elena and is further hurt when Rosaura marries her true love. ...read more.


She does not have her engage in lengthy external dialogues. Often, it is those around her who are speaking and controlling the conversations in which she does partake. For example, when Tita and Mama Elena are discussing the issue of marriage, Mama Elena controls the exchange when she says "in a tone of final command: 'That's it for today'" (Esquivel 11) while Tita "lowered her head...as her tears struck the table" (Esquivel 11), not having "even the slightest voice in the unknown forces that fated" (Esquivel 11) her. Readers thus see Tita as a constrained, vulnerable and helpless being who is unable to stand up for herself and obtain the desired atonement. Conversely, Dorfman makes Paulina's speech insolent and governing. Paulina's dialogue consists largely of abrupt, bitterly sarcastic sentences replete with crude words where she is often cutting off Gerardo or Roberto's voices and controlling the conversation. In Scene 1 of Act 2, Paulina says several things coated with mockery: "Of course I'm going to listen to you. Haven't I always listened to you?" ...read more.


He has Paulina, on several occasions, begin "to laugh softly but with increasing hysteria" (Dorfman 10), having to be soothed by Gerardo by being called "silly girl, my baby" (Dorfman 11). Also, Dorfman bases her accusations of Roberto on "the way he laughs. Certain phrases that he uses...that voice mixed with saliva" (Dorfman 23) and not on facts such as evidence or facial recognition since she is blindfolded. This insinuates that he sees her indictments as undependable and impulsive. Although the consequences of the situations that the characters go through are similar and the search for atonement is prevalent for both, the generated responses of readers are opposing. Because Esquivel does not have Tita speak her mind and portrays her as subjugated and powerless, readers pity her and wish for her to regain Pedro, thus advocating her need for atonement. Alternatively, Dorfman depicts Paulina as dictatorial and obdurate, compelling readers to condemn her treatment of Roberto and not justify her search for atonement. Authors' employment of literary techniques can bring about the demise or rise of their own characters in readers' eyes. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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