“Woman Hollering Creek” by Sandra Cisneros
Referring to the folklore stories, women are often expected to do a lot of things in sake of men and sacrifice their vision of happiness and real love for the family’s needs. While focusing on the cultural differences, it is possible to note that the Mexican women are expected to be more sacrificing in comparison with the American women because of differences in their visions of the female roles in the family and society.
In her short story “Woman Hollering Creek”, Sandra Cisneros describes the female character of Cleofilas who mostly follows the cultural traditions in relation to the family values and roles, but she does not accept the traditional behavioral pattern described in such stories as the tale about La Llorona, the folklore weeping woman.
While becoming the victim of the domestic violence and having all the hopes broken, Cleofilas finds the ways to escape and freed herself. In spite of the fact that Cleofilas in Cisneros’ “Woman Hollering Creek” is associated with La Llorona in relation to the experienced sorrow and grief, Cleofilas is not as passive as the folklore weeping woman, and she chooses to oppose the gender and cultural stereotypes while focusing on the chance for renewal rather than for death.
Cleofilas is depicted as the naïve Mexican woman who hopes to live happily with her husband, and the woman’s ideals of the happy marriage are based on the images presented in soap operas and on her traditional vision of the family. Thus, Cleofilas wants to have a life “like a telenovela” (Cisneros 45). Having moved to Texas, Cleofilas makes everything to organize such a perfect life for her family, and she even does not pay attention to the aspects of domestic violence in her family.
In this situation, Cleofilas is depicted as a traditional Mexican woman who usually “could think of nothing to say, said nothing” (Cisneros 48). From this point, Cleofilas is portrayed as being mute in response to the violence, and the woman is expected to sacrifice her right to speak for love and for the family’s welfare. In this case, Cleofilas acts like any other Mexican woman in the similar situation.
Cleofilas’ loses her illusions about the happy marriage gradually, while focusing on the husband’s infidelity and violence and while concentrating on the story of La Llorona. The woman cannot accept the fact that her husband can be violent and unfair in relation to her that is why she is full of doubts which are “slender as a hair. A washed cup set back on the shelf wrong-side-up. Her lipstick, and body talc, and hairbrush all arranged in the bathroom a different way. No. Her imagination.
The house the same as always. Nothing” (Cisneros 50). Although now she lives in the United States, Cleofilas is a good Mexican woman who tries to defend her family and her husband. That is why Cleofilas chooses not to notice the obvious facts of the husband’s infidelity. However, Cleofilas also cannot pretend that she sees and feels nothing.
Thus, having a life like a telenovela, Cleofilas notes that “now the episodes got sadder and sadder” (Cisneros 52). Cisneros depicts the changes in Cleofilas’ consciousness and vision of her state gradually. As a result, the character of Cleofilas finally seems to be opposing to the cultural stereotypes typical for the Mexican society in spite of the fact that Cleofilas tries to share the traditional female roles till she begins to focus on the unfair behavior of her husband.
The characters of Cleofilas and La Llorona can be discussed as similar in relation to the fact that both the women become the victims of the men’s unfaithfulness. However, if La Llorona is overwhelming with the grief, and she chooses to kill her children because the man’s infidelity makes her mad, Cleofilas is more decisive while losing her illusions and looking at the situation of domestic violence from the other side.
Nevertheless, the similarities in the images of Cleofilas and La Llorona are accentuated with the fact that Cleofilas spends much time thinking about the weeping woman: “Is it La Llorona, the weeping woman? La Llorona, who drowned her own children. Perhaps La Llorona is the one they named the creek after, she thinks, remembering all the stories she learned as a child” (Cisneros 51).
The thoughts about the fate of La Llorona help Cleofilas find the right decision and not become the victim of madness and depression. Cleofilas approaches the story about La Llorona from the other perspective although the woman admits that she understands La Llorona’s sorrow.
La Llorona wails because it is the only way to cope with the experienced grief and the whole situation. This approach is depicted in the folklore as typical for women who became the victims of the male infidelity. Nevertheless, Cisneros’ Cleofilas has the power not to weep passively because of her lost hopes, but the woman chooses to act in contrast to the spread stereotypes (Cisneros 47).
In this case, the image of Cleofilas is opposed to the characters of Soledad and Dolores who spend their lives while focusing on the memories about the men who had left (Cisneros 47-48). Traditionally, the women should pay much attention to men and think a lot about them while coping with the pain and violence these men can bring.
Cleofilas follows this stereotypic vision only while experiencing the first strikes which surprise her significantly. However, the woman cannot bear the husband’s strikes during a long period of time. Cleofilas uses the right to speak about the violence in contrast to the traditional visions typical for such women as Soledad and Dolores and observed as the folklore patterns.
In her short story “Woman Hollering Creek”, Sandra Cisneros destroys the stereotypes associated with the images of the Mexican women. Cleofilas as the main character of the story becomes the victim of all the stereotypes and false visions associated with the female roles and expectations associated with the marriage. Cleofilas experiences the pain and sufferings typical for many weeping women who are described in such folklore tales as the story about La Llorona.
However, Cisneros chooses to revise the traditional folklore tale and represent the image of the woman who finds the power to cope with the fears and stereotypes and to use her right to speak about the experienced violence. Although Cisneros’ Cleofilas is the Mexican woman who creates her vision of the family basing on the images presented in the soap operas, Cleofilas rejects to be passive, and the woman breaks the stereotypes associated with the role of the Mexican females in the family and society.
Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. New York: Random House, 1991. Print.
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