Enthralling readers in the opening chapter is a critical task that authors need to achieve. The authors, Laura Esquivel of Like Water for Chocolate and Patrick Süskind of Perfume, successfully accomplish this by meticulously constructing the structure to maximise readers' interest, employing universal elements such as food and smell to guide readers into the depth of the novels, and presenting a startling loveless relationship between mother and child. The carefully crafted first chapter by both authors are powerful engines in keeping the books in readers' hands. allegorical examination of the Mexican Revolution
The structure of the chapter is very significant in engaging readers in the beginning of the novel. In Like Water for Chocolate, it begins with the line, 'Take care to chop the onion fine' and the use of imperative immediately gives readers a sense of the action and makes them feel involved. The feeling of inclusion is more enhanced by the use of personal pronouns, especially the second person 'you', as readers are being directly addressed, 'I suggest you place a little bit on your head.' The author parenthesizes, '(which is so annoying!)', and this not only gives the sense of an "aside" as in drama but also expresses the opinion of the narrator, making it more personal and developing empathy between the writer and readers. Esquivel links each ingredient of Christmas rolls with a particular memory throughout the chapter and onions bring an unusual birth of the protagonist, Tita, to attention. Tita enters the world through her own flood of tears, the salt of which is put in cooking later. Here the writer employs magic realism and interweaves it with giving birth and cooking. While these natural human activities are familiar to readers that readers can easily participate, the unfamiliarity of magic realism captivates readers by suggesting unconventional views beyond reality. The conversational tone also makes the novel more approachable and accessible for readers, 'the look Pedro gave herâ€¦That look!'
On the other hand, while Like Water for Chocolate generates the atmosphere of an anecdote, the author of Perfume employs a contrasting structure, taking readers a step back to offer an overall view. In Perfume, the beginning is historical in style, 'In eighteenth-century France there lived a manâ€¦'. The author creates the antihero, Grenouille, to seem he is set in a real historical time by incorporating historical figures such as Just and Fouche. Also, along with the line 'on the eve of the revolution', the comment on specific dates and historical events add realism to the setting. Süskind purposefully uses diction such as 'peasant', 'priest', 'aristocracy' and 'King' to reflect the social structure of eighteenth century France, which valued status above anything else. The reference to the historical setting keeps readers' interest in Grenouille because the paradox between the realist setting and the "fantastic" character, who has an extraordinary olfactory sense, is a fascinating combination. Moreover, Süskind uses omniscient narrative voice to not limit readers from seeing only one perspective. However, the author then again reminds readers that they are also part of the novel by using the first person plural in the first page, 'In the period of which we speakâ€¦'.
Furthermore, the beginning of both novels is very much centred on universal elements, Like Water for Chocolate with food and Perfume with smell. In Like Water for Chocolate, the central element is food and its inseparability from human life enables readers to find connections more easily. For example, the experience of crying while chopping onions is so common that readers can instantly relate the scene to themselves. SITE? Food also appeals to senses that smells of food when Tita was born, 'â€¦smells of simmering noodle soup, thyme â€¦ onion.', arouses readers' senses (and can indicate the atmosphere of the setting.) Moreover, food acts as an important medium for understanding characters. The author contrasts Tita from her sisters who consider playing in the kitchen as 'foolish and dangerous' and reveals Tita's closest relationship with the cook, Nacha. This character establishment helps readers to predict the future direction of these relationships.
Similarly, in Perfume, smell serves to create a bonding with everyday experience, yet unlike Like Water for Chocolate, it focuses more on the setting. Grenuoille 'leaves no traces in history: to the fleeting realm of scent.' This informs readers that Grenuoille has performed a perfect crime and this foreshadows his exploitation with smell. The author moves on to describe the city with smell and does so by linking everyone except for young with foul smells, 'the Kingâ€¦like a rank lion and the Queen like an old goatâ€¦' The author has purposefully excluded young to emphasise smell as a symbol of human depravity and at the same time, he points out the fact that the natural smell of humans is repellent, penetrating through perfume that people wear to disguise their real smell. In addition, when Grenouille's birthplace is described, the author uses the present continuous to make the smell seem to be dragging on continuously even now, 'squeezing its putrefying vapour, a blend of rotting melonâ€¦', and the negative adjectives even more emphasise the repulsiveness of the setting. This imagery stimulates readers' senses of sight, smell and even taste and the pervading sensation further invites them to be part of the novel.
Lastly, both authors present a heartless relationship between mother and child to provoke sympathy and horror in readers. In Like Water for Chocolate, Tita's birth is very noteworthy as it denotes the heroine's destiny in which she is denied marriage and has to take care of her mother. The wrongful tradition that is forcefully imposed on Tita's life stimulates readers' ire against injustice. Esquivel deliberately includes this not only to captivate readers but also as a microcosm of the Mexican Revolution SITE, in which Mama Elena represents a harsh dictator of the Revolution and Tita symbolises the democracy-desiring public. For example, when Tita attempts to give her opinions, she is ruthlessly ignored by Mama Elena, an autocrat, leaving Tita with insistent internal questioning, 'who would take care of her when she got old?' Here, Tita alludes the public's questioning of the dictatorship during the Revolution and this allusion allows readers to appreciate the cultural background of the novel. Rhetorical questions also aim to convey Tita's frustration, yet the confiding tone reveals her fear of Mama Elena. Furthermore, the line 'â€¦everything leading to the patio and the kitchen and herb gardens was complexly hers- it was Tita's realm', shows heroine's creation of her own world amidst the repressing domain of Mama Elena in the rest of the ranch to accentuate the heroine's longing for self-expression. This is still sought after in modern society hence readers can draw a parallel between Tita's situation and today's society. Esquivel further amplifies Mama Elena's tyrannical character explicitly not only through words such as 'command' and 'mother's ruling' but also through syntax in 'That's it for today.' This short simple sentence is followed by a long descriptive sentence of Mama Elena and this is done to emphasise her terse and harsh tone. The inequity present throughout the chapter is very consequential as it creates sympathy and support for Tita from readers. suddenis mainly composed of monosyllabic words and it enhan ces
Likewise, Süskind exhibits an absence of maternal love to give insight into characters and to induce anticipation from readers. Compared to the mother-child relationship in Like Water for Chocolate, that of Perfume is even worse: the mother, who tries to kill her son, ends up dying due to the betraying cry of the baby. The author uses a short simple sentence that is composed of monosyllabic words, 'It was her fifth', to give a detached tone and highlight how the baby is just another 'thing' that means nothing to the mother. The birth of the baby is devoid of emotions and the author achieves this by describing the scene with the matter-of -fact tone, 'she squatted down under the gutting table and there gave birth...' The baby's death seems to be imminent when the mother leaves the baby among fish guts, yet readers predict an unexpected reversal as the baby is the protagonist. As readers have foreseen, Grenouille squalls and successfully commits his first "murder" by leading her mother to be decapitated later. This shocking relationship is very meaningful in helping readers to identify Grenouille as a special individual and expect hardships ahead of his life. The scene leaves readers to wonder what the future of a motherless boy holds and this curiosity becomes a powerful force in continuing the novel.
Laura Esquivel and Patrick Süskind have designed masterpieces to intrigue readers in the opening chapter. The structures of the openings attract readers in their distinctive methods, and the principal elements of food and smell in the respective novels narrows the gap between the writer and readers. Finally, the mother and child relationship decisively provokes sympathy and curiosity from readers to participate in the novels. The exquisite mixture of these components engages readers effectively and it is proved by both novels status as celebrated examples of world literature.
Word Count: 1545 words