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Woman Hollering Creek Essay

“Woman Hollering Creek” by Sandra Cisneros, is a story about a Mexican woman, Cleofilas, who moves to America after her marriage, only to find pain, suffering and becomes a target of male chauvinism. Sandra Cisneros has been critically acclaimed as a feminist writer and her works depict the characteristics of feminist voice. Sandra, being a female, understands the real suffering and transitions women go through in a lifetime. It is said that only a woman can understand the pain of another woman. Cisneros uses her experience and her understanding of male and female relationships and uses it to the best in her stories. In “Woman Hollering Creek”, Cisneros shows how Cleofilas transitions through the journey of life, playing multiple roles of a daughter, a wife and then a mother.

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In this story, Cleofilas is depicted as the protagonist, who falls in love with Juan Pedro, who has plans to take her to the United States after their marriage. Cleofilas is the central theme of the story, which begins from the part when Don Serafin, her father, allows Juan Pedro to marry his daughter. Cleofilas moves from Mexico to United States, leaving everything behind, her culture, her friends and even her family for Juan Pedro. Cleofilas has been described as a stereotypical woman, who falls in love with a man who comes her way, and rebels with her father to marry him. She is so lost in his love that she even ignores the words of her father at the time of their marriage. She is just like a traditional woman, who believes she will never tolerate any sort of violence from her husband, but when he really hits her, she doesn’t fight and easily forgives him. She even sees evidences of extra marital affairs at her house, after she is back from the hospital, but she decides not to retaliate.

Her husband has been depicted as a sexist man who loves her in the beginning but as time passes by, he starts losing interest in her. He sees her simply as an object, rather than a human being. He hits her again and again. He even cheats her while she is gone. He considers himself superior to her. When she asks him to help in repairing the refrigerator, he says that he is providing her food and shelter and she should not ask for more. This shows how he considers himself superior than her. He even doesn’t care to see if she is hurt, when he throws a book at her. This shows how he doesn’t care about her pain or suffering. Throughout the story, Cisneros shows how women are treated as inferior, in this male chauvinist society and how women themselves fall as prey towards their abuse. She shows how women are old fashioned by the way they tolerate the injustice of men. When Cleofilas is pregnant with her second child, she asks her husband, Juan Pedro, to take her to hospital and tells him that she will not tell the doctors about the bruises. This depicts how typical her behavior is, trying to hide the atrocities of her husband. Felice is another female character, living an independent and happy life, unlike Cleofilas, who is sad and her life becomes miserable day by day. This illustrates the author’s point of view about how women should be independent and free to attain a happy life.

Sandra Cisrenos comes from a family who constantly migrated from Mexico to Unites States of America and this seems to have influenced her life in a special way. She understands the cross border syndrome and the suffering of thriving being two cultures. She clearly shows her own experience in her works. Both her works, “The house on Mango Street” and “Woman Hollering Creek” show the apathies of people migrating between Mexico and the United States. She portrays the relationship between men and women, in her book, very sensitively. She shows how parents have true love for their children and how beautiful can a father-daughter relationship be, whereas, a man and his wife can live miserably together, if they do not understand the need of equality in their lives. Until men think of women as their equals, life could be as good as hell for both of them.


  • Cisneros, Sandra Woman Hollering Creek

Women Hollering Creek

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Waiting for Freedom
In the story "Woman Hollering Creek" Sandra Cisneros discusses the issues of living life as a married woman through a character named Cleofilas; a character who is married to a man who abuses her physically and mentally .Cisneros reveals the way the culture puts a difference between a male and a female, men above women. Cisneros has been famous about writing stories about the latino culture and how women are treated; she explain what they go through as a child, teen and when they are married; always dominated by men because of how the culture has been adapted. "Woman Hollering Creek" is one of the best examples. A character who grows up without a mother and who has no one to guid and give her advise about life.
In an audio Interview, done by Don Swain, Cisneros explains how she got the title of the story." The Creek" she says "is a real place" she explains how she wanted the title to be in Spanish but she wasn't allowed to; the reason, she explained, was because she was a Mexican woman. "The creek called La Gretna is a reminiscent of popular folktale about La Lorona, a nameless tragic woman drowned herself and her children"(Mullen 1).Cisneros creates the character from a background which explains why she doesn't know what the reality of life is; she comes from a family of a six brothers and a dad and without a mom, a male dominated family. Jeff Thomas, from the article" What is Called Heaven" says: "The union of gender, and gender based ideologies, is essential to the strong, feminine characters of the later stories of Woman Hollering Creek."(l) What Thomas means is that Cisnores focuses more on gender problems, discriminations and the conflicts in this story rather than love story and the lifestyle. Although Cleofilas finds a way to learn her womanly attributes, through television series .she imagines her ideal life through television series which she watches religiously. Cisneros created a great example. In the third world countries, communication outside of a city or country is very hard, so Cisneros used the telenovelas as the only tool for Cleofilas to see how life can sometimes be. She doesn't know being beaten by her husband is not a normal thing. She is living in the suburbs with her husband with neighbors who in their own way, are trapped as well. Cisneros also shows how life can be for Cleofilas when a mom is not present to guide heir, again, Cleofilas's only guide are the television series.

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MLA Citation:
"Women Hollering Creek." 11 Mar 2018

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"The creek, the televonelas and the border define the mythic spaces given to Cleofilas in her fantasies of escape from a battering husband."(Mullen 6) The town which Cisneros chose to have as the setting of the story, there isn't much for her to do;" 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."(Cisneros 44) Using that, Cisneros helps the reader to get a taste of how the environment is. An environment which women don't have a say in, an environment where woman don't have the equal power as men; the environment Cleofilas was raised in.
In the story, Cleofilas starts living in a house in a suburban area. Beaten and neglected by her husband in a house distant from her fathers house" She is beaten by her husband and trapped in a suburban house between two women who are equally trapped: Dolores by the memory of her dead husband and sons, and Soledad, whose husband either died or ran away"(Thomas 3),Both women are in a strange situation "The neighbor lady Soledad liked to call herself a widow, though how she came to be one was a mystery. Her husband has either died, or run away with an ice-house floozie, or simply gone out for cigarettes one afternoon and never came back"(Cisneros 46) And the other neighbor Dolores is, in a sense, in a same situation, "Dolores, kind and very sweet, but her house smelled too much of incense and candles from the alters that burned continuously in memory of two sons who had died in the last war and one husband who had died shortly after from the grief."(Cisneros 47) Using those two characters, Cleofilas gets a taste of how reality can be; far worse than the situation she is in .Cisneros uses a lot of characters in this story; she uses Cleofilas's father, her brothers, husband, neighbors, Felice and the nurse that introduced Cleofiles to Felice. They all serve different purposes. Cisneros uses the characters in the later part of the stories to help Cleofilas understand freedom and what kind of life she had been living ; however, the characters who are closer to Cleofilas are the ones that she had been with all her life, in a sense, stuck with those characters. Through out the plot of the story, Cleofilas starts to realize life isn't exactly like how they view it in the telenovelas, "Cleofilas thought her life would have to be like that, like a telenovela, only now the episodes got sadder and sadder. And then were no commercials in between for comic relief."(Cisneros 52-53) She is disappointed because since she remembers she used to dream about living like the characters on telenovelas and act like them, but now she is proved otherwise, " Cleofilas's new world is far removed from the heights of perfect love and noble suffering of her telenovela, The Rich Also Cry."(Thomas 3) This Issue is not only narrowed down to Cleofilas, many people think that what they see in the television is how life really is, exactly how Cleofilas felt. Escaping is what Cleofilas is contemplating, "The Creek is the one emblem of escape in a world filled with the near impossibility of escape."(Thomas 3) She is scared to leave because it will be a disgrace towards her family. "Sometimes she thinks of her father's house. But how could she go back there? What a disgrace. What would the neighbors say? Coming home like that with one baby on her hip and one in the over. Where's your husband?"(Cisneros 50) In third world countries, or small towns, people know everything about each other. It sounds cliché but it is because there's not enough for people to do, so they gossip and sit in on each others lives. Cisneros also reveals Cleofilas is still willing to be patient with her husband and support him and be with him:
from the times during her first year when still a newlywed she is invited and accompanies her husband, sits mute besides their conversations, waits and sips a beet until it grows warm, twists a paper napkin into a knot, then another into a fan, one into a rose, nods her head, smiles, yawns, politely grins, laughs at the appropriate moments, leans against her husbands sleeve, tugs at his elbow, and finally becomes good at predicting where the talk will lead, from this Cleofilas concludes each is nightly trying to find the truth lying at the bottom of the bottle like a gold doubloon on the see floor. (Cisneros 48)
This shows how much patience she has; she is willing to go to places she doesn't enjoy being and do the things she doesn't want to do, but as long as her husband is with her and he is having a good time, she doesn't care. Cisneros reveals how patient women can be, and she explains how Cleofilas tried to be patient and stay with her husband, but in the end, she wants to leave.
Cisneros views the life of many women through this story. Being eager to love and to be loved, living a happy life and being free is what many want, but sometimes life cannot
be so perfect, it can be harsh ride. Cleofilas is put through a lot; but in the end by meeting the right people she was ready to face her new beginning; this time she will have a different opinion about life; it definitely isn't going to be the ideas she had about life before she went through all she went through. She grew stronger and she is ready to take on anything. The telenovelas that were teaching her about life would no longer be needed.