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Woman Hollering Creek Essay

Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros was first published in her collection of short stories, ‘Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories in 1991. I chose these stories because Cisneros has mixed so many facts of life on life in Mexico. The stories revolves much around the poor Latin women and the kind of life that they live is very touching ;it makes one aware that leading a good life should not be taken for granted. The stories make one to compromise with the characters. The writer draws heavily from her childhood experience and ethnic origin. Cisneros was born in 1954 and creates characters who are typically Spanish and who are set apart from the American culture. She puts an emphasis on dialogue and sensory imagery over the long-established narrative structures.Wyatt (2010) commentary on the collection of short stories by Cisneros aided me in understanding the stories. The stories cover and give voice to the effervescent and diverse life on both sides of the Mexican borders.In the stories Cisneros talks of a little girl revealing secrets in a childlike manner, she also says that a witch flied at down over their small town, commentaries which Wyatt has used in her commentaries. These are some of the statement used by the writer to describe how life was different in the two sides of the border. The picture that Wyatt creates helps the reader in understanding the colorful life on the Texas/Mexico border. The commentary also reveals the nature of women in the short stories and is full of wholesome discovery; they are also filled with moments of countless and intimate wisdom. In the stories the family ties are very strong; all members of any family are present. For instance Cisneros talks of cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, aunts and cousins among others. The commentary has helped in understanding that the stories are romantic dreams of a young girl who can’t wait to get away from a stifling small town life; the girl soon discovers that life is no different on the other side of the border. The writer of the stories has a very sensitive eye because she notes and reveals secrets and dreams of the characters in the stories. She also has a sense of humor and love for the people whom she is close to and describes them passionately. Wyatt commentary on the stories by Cisneros allows one to understand the life on both sides of the Mexican borders.Payant (1999) has also made some commentaries on the short stories by Sandra Cisneros. She talks of the themes that have been brought out in the novel. To her the writer addresses the themes of domestic abuse, rape, Misogyny and limitations of traditional gender roles in the women characters. She argued that the characters in the stories are aware of the soul deadening restrictions of family and cultural expectation as they struggle to address and take charge of their own destinies. This commentary helps a reader to gain the insight of the major subject matter that the writer has tackled. The characters especially women live in complete poverty and cultural suppression, the stories also revolve around the search for self identity. The women in the stories try to escape their fate by becoming educated and self expression; by doing this they escape the patriarchal limits of their culture. The commentators examines the role that the American popular culture and the mythical figures in the story that enables one to have a deep insight of the stories.                                                            

The stories follow a structure and theme pattern which is similar to that of Cisneros first collection of short fiction in 1983. Payant deems the dialogue as overly simple and asserts that her repeated depiction of male violence toward women is an unflattering view of Hispanic life.  The mythical and innovative techniques have been widely appreciated to Payant. This is because her concentration on the cultural imperialism and issues of women has a universal appeal and it is these features that strike realism and dynamic portrayal. This book by Cisneros is a remarkable and persuasive work of fiction and this is the second reason I chose to review commentaries on this book and also write on it.The third commentary is by Rodriguez and Pilar (1990). The two interviewed the writer Sandra Cisneros on the solitary fate of being a Mexican woman. This commentary revealed that Cisneros was an only daughter in a family of seven children. She talked on how she felt like she had seven fathers because her brothers were always attempting to control her and expected her to take up the role of a traditional female role.  She talks of how she felt homeless and displaced and how she retreated inside herself.                                                                                                                     

This interview enables one to understand that the point of view from which Cisnero was portraying her characters. Her rights as a woman were suppressed and thus the challenges faced by Cisneros characters because of their gender cannot be comprehended in isolation of the culture. The culture suppressed the women’s rights since it laid out how women and men were supposed to behave. Cisneros portrays the character of Chicanas as a girl tackling the deeply rooted patriarchal values of the Mexicans. The fathers and the whole community apply pressure on Chicanas to conform to a description of womanhood that is very narrow and also to assume a subservient position to men. Cisneros depicts how Chicanas and many other women from other parts of the world internalize norms that suppress them from a very young age. The girls learn to internalize these norms through informal education by the members of the family and also popular culture. Cisneros tackles the issue of female sexuality and she shows the negative side of men where they exert control over women; they do this by exploring the gap between representations that are idealized in popular culture and real sexual incidences of women. These stories are meant to represent women who are victims of male patriarchy. My thoughts after reading the stories was that Cisneros wanted the women readers to take note of the stereotypes that suppress them and which they are supposed to conform to and reject them as she did. She encourages them to enjoy their sexuality. 

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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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"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.



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