Woman Hollering Creed

Morgan Sneed ENGL2006 Sandra Cisneros is an American writer best known for her first novel The House on Mango Street and her subsequent short story collection Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. Her work experiments with literary forms and investigates emerging subject positions, which Cisneros herself attributes to growing up in a context of cultural hybridity and economic inequality that endowed her with unique stories to tell.
Cisneros’s early life provided many experiences she would later draw on as a writer: “born in Chicago, the child of a Mexican father and a Mexican American mother, Cisneros spent parts of her childhood in Texas and Mexico (1130). ” Cisneros’s work deals with the formation of Chicana identity, exploring the challenges of finding herself caught between Mexican and American cultures, facing the misogynist attitudes present in both these cultures, and experiencing poverty. For her insightful social critique and powerful prose style, Cisneros has achieved recognition far beyond Chicano and Latino communities.
Using her position as an educator and writer, she began “to champion Chicana feminism, especially as this movement combines cultural issues with women’s concerns (1131)”. In Woman Hollering Creek, Cisneros “cultivates a sense of warmth and naive humor for her protagonists, qualities that are evident in introductory parts (1130). ” This short story collection deals with the issues that young women faced. “What remains constant is the author’s view that by romanticizing sexual relations women cooperate with a male view that can be oppressive, even physically destructive…Ciseneros is ‘caught between here and there’.

Yet ‘here’ and ‘there’ are not as dichotomous as young versus old, female versus male, or Mexico versus the United States (1130). ” Woman Hollering Creek is a tale of tragedy and triumph. The story, told from the third person, begins by showing us the foreknowledge our protagonist Cleofilas’s father held concerning her fate. “… Already did he divine the morning his daughter would raise her hand over her eyes, look south, and dream of returning to the chores that never ended, six good-for-nothing brothers, and one old man’s complaints (1131). Cleofilas is preparing to marry a Texas man, Juan Pedro Martinez Sanchez. If a critic were to take into account, external historical and social considerations when interpreting Sandra Cisneros’s “Woman Hollering Creek”, his initial natural prejudice might be to view the modern Untied States more likely to provide women liberation from oppressive masculinity than Mexico. However, a closer reading of “Woman Hollering Creek” reveals the opposite true in this case. The U. S. own, which Cleofilas moves with her new husband, casts a distorted mirror image of the town from whence she came. This juxtaposition in the setting, as well as the characters, symbols, and point of view, all combine to amass their weight toward one conclusion: life in the United States is less liberating for the Mexican woman than life in Mexico. The United States town, steeped in masculinity, is evidenced by the symbolism of the setting as well as by the characters. The primary character that takes an active part in Cleofilas’s life, her husband, is masculine.
Across the street is Maximiliano, so macho that he “was said to have killed his wife in an ice-house brawl” (1136). There is no feminine identity for Cleofilas to relate to in her neighbors; Dolores is no longer a mother and Soledad is no longer a wife. Dolores’s garden, rather than being tranquil and feminine, serves to reinforce masculine dominance by showing the “red cockscombs, fringed and bleeding a thick menstrual color” (1133) foreshadow the abuse that would soon leave Cleofilas’s lip split open so that it “bled an orchid of blood” (1134).
The town has a city hall, an image of masculine rule, outside of which rests a large bronze pecan. In effect, it is a brass nut, an obviously masculine symbol for which the town possesses a “silly pride” (1135). Each of these components of setting and character has their feminine mirror in the Mexican town, which is therefore more hospitable to women. The primary character who takes a part in Cleofilas’s life there is her father who seems to have taken over the mothering role of Cleofilas’s deceased mother, making a promise, “I am your father I will never abandon you” (1131).
All of her neighbors are women, and all have a sense of identity. “In the town where she grew up, there isn’t much to do except accompany the aunts and godmothers to the house of one or the other to play cards (1131). ” Instead of a city hall, the town has a town center, which implies not masculine competition and rule but feminine cooperation. Instead of a bronze pecan outside of the city hall, there is a “leafy zocalo in the center of town” (1135), suggesting fertility and femininity.
In addition to providing a contrast between the feminine and the masculine, the relative setting of the towns also create a contrast between independence and dependence, “because the towns in the U. S. are built so that you have to depend on husbands”(1135). In the church in Mexico she could meet with other women and engage in “huddled whispering” (1135), but in the United States “the whispering begins at sunset at the icehouse instead” and she must sit “mute beside their conversation” (1135).
TV and cinema are both readily available to Cleofilas in Mexico, but in Seguin, she has no TV, and can only glimpse a “few episodes” of her telenovela at Soledad’s house. Even her one solid contact with a world outside her own, her book, is thrown by her husband “from across the room” (1136). Not only does the Mexican town provide more opportunities for independent action than the U. S. town, but it also provides alternatives for dependency. In Mexico, Cleofilas can depend on her father, brothers, aunts, and godmothers.
In the United States, however, she has no such option, as the doctor says, “her family’s all in Mexico” (1138). These contrasts between the dependence on the masculine necessitated by the U. S. town and the independence, or at least the variety of dependencies, afforded by the Mexican town become clearer as the story progresses. Initially, the narrator’s point of view expresses a feeling of limitation in the Mexican town: In the town where she grew up, there is not very much to do except accompany the aunts and godmothers to the house of one or the other to play cards.
Or walk to the cinema to see this week’s film again, speckled and with one hair quivering annoyingly on the screen. Or to the center of town to order a milk shake that will appear in a day and a half as a pimple on her backside. Or to the girlfriend’s house to watch the latest telenovela episode and try to copy the way the women comb their hair, wear there makeup (1131). The language of this passage makes the town appear dull and limiting until compared with the language of a similar passage describing the northern town. “There is no place to go.
Unless one counts the neighbor ladies. Soledad on one side, Dolores on the other. Or the creek” (1136). By contrasting these passages, we can see the narrator’s point of view. The Mexican town is not limited compared to the United States town. There are variety of options. The narrator’s point of view becomes abundantly clear as Cleofilas crosses Woman Hollering Creek on her way home to Mexico. Initially, the point of view is negative. When moving to her new home with her husband, Cleofilas wants to know whether “the woman has hollered from anger or pain” (1133).
Crossing that river to her new home is like crossing into a world of both anger and pain. However, leaving that world, and crossing the river returning to her father endows Cleofilas with a fresh perspective. Her companion hollers when they cross the river, but not in either anger or pain. She hollers “like Tarzan” (1138). Cleofilas had expected “pain or rage, perhaps, but not a hoot like the one Felice had just let go” (1139). Therefore, “Woman Hollering Creek”, becomes a triumphant return to a home of peace and love and an escape from what her father had known all along.

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