Menu
Encanto Theory

‘Encanto’ Theory: Let’s Talk About Abuelo Pedro

It has been a while since Encanto was a major topic of discussion, but I decided to re-watch the film–or at least force myself to do so–and a theory popped into my head that I wanted to share. It is a theory about Casita, the true source of “the miracle,” and what can be found in Abuela Alma’s bedroom.

Abuela, "Encanto"

Abuela in ‘Encanto’ Credit: Disney

At the heart of Disney’s Encanto is the Madrigal family’s magical home, Casita. Enchanted with its own personality, Casita’s power and existence stem from the magical candle. That candle has been kept alight since Alma lost her beloved husband, Pedro. He gave the ultimate sacrifice by distracting bad guys long enough for Alma, her three babies–Julieta, Pepa, and Bruno–and the rest of their party to escape to safety.

It was immediately after Pedro’s implied death that the Madrigal family’s village sanctuary and Casita came into existence. And everybody assumes that the enchanting spirit bringing Casita to life and giving everyone powers was some new thing? I don’t think so.

Casita, Encanto

Credit: Disney

I submit that Abuelo Pedro–the Madrigal Patriarch–IS Casita. His spirit is the source of his family’s power, and–like a good patriarch–his magic provides protection and bestows enriching gifts onto the next generation that elevate the family’s situation overall. And he can be found in his human form inside Abuela Alma’s bedroom.

Pedro Appears in Abuela Alma’s Room

Several people had pointed out that the few glimpses through the door show Abuela’s room to be just like the room she had with Pedro before they had to flee. When we go inside Anthony’s room, Isabela’s room, and Bruno’s room, we learn that the rooms are a hub of sorts for their gifts. Now, if such enchantments can give Lusia super strength or Isabela the ability to make plant life sprout out of thin air, why can’t they reunite Abuela with her one true love?

Abuelo Pedro, Encanto

Credit: Disney

But TK, if Abuela could talk to Pedro, there is no way she would be so oblivious to the problems with the magic!

Well, who says Pedro would have told Alma everything? As the person who knew her better than anyone, he would know what to say and what not to say to her. Also, Abuela carries a strong sense of direction and certainty throughout the film that borders on susceptibility to denial. We also have to think about narrative functions here. Such overt spiritual revelations completely undermine the necessary growth our characters need to go through together.

I can see Alma confiding in Pedro when she retreats to her room, asking for guidance, and him telling her that everything is going to be okay and that Mirable has a very strong purpose indeed.

But why wouldn’t Abuela tell the family that their Abuelo was still with them? 

Well, just like with all of their anecdotes and recipes, grandmothers never share the whole thing and will always alter it to better their image in the eyes of their grandkids. If she is trying to spark sympathy and guilt in Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), the admittance that Pedro was always with her would sabotage her chances. Plus, it makes sense for her to still want her family to live life as if their Abuelo was truly gone and only still with them in a spiritual way. And that brings me to the candle!

The Importance of the Candle

Pedro and Alma's wedding, Encanto

Credit: Disney

We also have to talk about the candle because none of what I have written makes sense without that connection. Across the spectrum of Latin American cultures, one will find candles strongly associated with one’s connection to the Divine. Lighting a candle is a necessity for some to begin prayer. The little light in a dark room or situation–physically, emotionally, or spiritually–is equal to opening a direct line to heaven. Catholic Churches keep a candle aflame to make people aware of Christ’s literal presence in that space.

In Colombia, specifically, the people celebrate Día de las Velitas or “The Day of Little Candles.” On December 7, Colombians light little candles everywhere. While this tradition is completely rooted in Catholicism, one of the more secular aspects includes making a wish for every candle that is lit. Alma and Pedro most likely meet during that actual celebration.

Pedro, Alma, Encanto

Credit: Disney

Since Disney views Christianity as being too divisive and insists on secularizing everything in order to be more “inclusive,” it is clear to me that the candle signifies two things that connect back to Abuelo Pedro beyond the simple symbolism for the endurance of the family miracle. The first is the open and direct connection they have with him–which would explain how Casita gains its animation and why Abuela Alma would be able to spend time with him in her room. The second is more specifically in line with the Colombian tradition. When Pedro passes the candle to Alma, he passes with it his own wishes for his family that they are protected and are given the gifts they need to achieve their greatest levels of potential.

The Madrigal Family, "Encanto"

Credit: Disney

Related: ‘Encanto’ Sing-Along Coming to Disney+

Readers, you will never convince me that Disney’s Encanto is good, let alone actually worthy of being named the year’s Best Animated Feature Film. The parental-standard-vilifying narrative’s structure is complete nonsense, from breaking the fourth wall to somehow dropping Mirable directly into a flashback, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s song lyrics are shallow and too repetitive for a musical. But, I have to admit that this theory–if true–would add a surprising layer of depth that I can very much appreciate.

Either way, Encanto is available for streaming now on Disney+.

About T.K. Bosacki

TK is a writer and editor based in Tampa, FL with a passion for all things Disney, and adventure.