From the author of the widely acclaimed The House on Mango Street comes a story collection of breathtaking range and authority, whose characters give voice to the vibrant and varied life on both sides of the Mexican border. The women in these stories offer tales of pure discovery, filled with moments of infinite and intimate wisdom.
Through the text, Cisneros is able to reveal to her readers how the life of a Mexican immigrant is extremely difficult. People constantly come to America in the hopes of living the “American Dream” and to gain true freedom. Cleofilas believes her life will start to mean something when she comes to America, but instead she lives a miserable life and her husband could care less about her and her well being. Juan Pedro abuses her constantly and even cheats on her, and things like this aren’t supposed to happen to people in America, or so Cleofilas thinks.
Being in America, Cleofilas should have a life filled with opportunities but that is not the case. She ends up having to return home, but at her own choice. Felicia, the woman who picks her up, takes her back to her hometown and on the drive back they pass over a creek called Woman Hollering Creek. The creek is meant to symbolize all the possible hardships that women must face and how they get through them. They can choose to either stay back or to face their fears. In Cleofilas case, she thankfully made it out alive and is able to start over. But that means she must leave the country where “everything is possible.” Although she may not have gotten the perfect ending she wanted, Cleofilas was able to get away from a life that could have been anything but happy.
The only quibble I have is that I wished some of the short-short stories had continued on longer. There were some lovely ideas floating around that I wanted Cisneros to explore more deeply.
In “Woman Hollering Creek” by Sandra Cisneros, Cleofilas is so caught up in her telenovelas that she is disconnected from reality. She cares about her romance novels and telenovelas more than anything else in her life. For example, when Juan Pedro Martinez Sanchez throws the novel at Cleofilas and cuts her cheek, she is mad because it is her book that hurt her. She is apathetic about her husband’s abusive behavior, but she is passionate to the extreme about her books. She has loved the idea of her future husband for all her life, but because she cannot love her husband, she has transferred her loved to her books and soap opera TV shows. This inability to see a difference between the reality of her abusive relationship and the fantasy of her passionate, loving books shows Cleofilas’ immature emotional state.
When Cleofilas finally gives up her idea of a passionate, loving relationship with her husband and moves back to her father’s house, she has finally seen the difference between reality and fantasy. She has finally grown from a fantasy filled teenager into an adult. She crosses the arroyo and crosses the border and crosses into adulthood.
This coming of age story is atypical with its female protagonist. However, she faces a hardship and grows emotionally into an adult because of the hardship she faces.
Cleofilas had the American dream of getting married having kids and living happily ever after, however after happing the hollering creek her husband made her holler in every way possible, and took this dream away from her. He beat her and forced himself on her which she only consented to some of the time, leaving marks all over her.
Cisnero allows readers to follow with the flow of the happiness being taken away in the flow of her sentence structure. In the beginning of the short story she uses long flowing sentences depicting the delight and pleasure Cleofilas is feeling about becoming a newly wed. However as her husbands evil shadow begins to become a burden the structure changes to short choppy sentences of fear and worry.
A book about being a woman, mostly, and also about Mexican-American culture.