Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
In ldquo;Woman Hollering Creek,” Cisneros describes the experiences of an ideal Mexican wife, Cleófilas. Having grown up with her father, six brothers, and no mother, Cleófilas learns how to be a woman by watching telenovelas on television. She learns to expect that passion will fill her life. This passion will be the great love of her life, which will give it direction and meaning, so that “one does whatever one can, must do, at whatever the cost.” This, she believes, is how life should be, “because to suffer for love is good. The pain all sweet somehow. In the end.” To be complete as a woman, she need only wait for her lover to appear and carry her away into “happy ever after.”
Her husband, Juan, carries her away from Mexico to Seguin, Texas, where she finds no community or family to support her, living in a comparatively isolated home and without independent means of transportation. Aware of the role of a good wife, she learns how to fit gracefully in with Juan’s life. She cares for his house and bears a son, Juan Pedrito. Both she and Juan, however, are foreigners in Seguin. His work is menial and does not pay well enough for the minimum standard of life in Texas. By the time she is pregnant with their second child, he has taken to beating her regularly, partly as a way of dealing with his frustration and powerlessness.
As their relationship deteriorates, Cleófilas comes to realize that this marriage does not...
(The entire section is 472 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Woman Hollering Creek Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
“Woman Hollering Creek” is the powerful narration of the destruction of one woman’s dreams told through her consciousness from the days just before her ill-fated marriage to Juan Pedro until the day she escapes his cheating, bullying behavior to return to Mexico. The primary action takes place in Seguin, Texas, a town of nasty gossips, dust, and despair, where Cleófilas gradually learns that the community life she cherished before moving north no longer exists. This town is built so that wives have to depend on husbands for a ride or stay home. There is nothing a woman can walk to: no supportive church, no leafy town square, and no friendly shops.
The story begins in Mexico, the day Don Serafin gives Juan permission to marry his daughter, Cleófilas, and take her to the “other side,” across the border. In the emotion of parting, he reassures her that as her father he will never abandon her, a remark that she later remembers for its comfort and hope. The wedding is what Cleófilas has been waiting for her entire life. Through watching films and soap operas, she has learned to desire a fairy-tale existence, the kind she is sure she will achieve with the love of her life, Juan Pedro. Once they settle in Seguin, Cleófilas finds herself drawn to the lovely creek running behind the house. No one knows why the creek is called La Gritona (Woman Hollering). The first time she crosses the creek with Juan, she laughs when he tells her its name. She does...
(The entire section is 611 words.)
Summary (Identities & Issues in Literature)
Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros is a widely admired collection of short stories. Most of the stories are set in Texas, some in Mexico. Most deal with the pressures upon Chicanas to conform to traditional ideas of femininity.
The title story is about Cleo, a naïve Mexican girl who marries a Mexican American. She soon finds herself pregnant with her second child, isolated in a foreign land where she cannot even speak with most people. Her frustrated husband beats her, destroying the dreams of happiness in marriage she learned from Mexican soap operas. When she flees, she gets help from a woman who hollers joyfully as they cross the Woman Hollering Creek bridge, teaching Cleo a new meaning for the creek’s name and another way to be a woman.
Two stories explore the problem of being “the other woman”: “Never Marry a Mexican” and “Eyes of Zapata.” This role may seem to be a form of rebellion against conventional women’s roles, but a mistress’s role can be as restrictive as a wife’s, and the price of what freedom it offers proves high. The narrator of “Bien Pretty” more successfully breaks free of traditional forms, living an artist’s life, taking lovers as she is inclined, learning that she can be in control, even after losing lovers. She becomes determined to change the image of women in love she sees in soap operas; she wants to re-create them as people who make things happen....
(The entire section is 411 words.)
Cleofilas Enriqueta DeLeon Hernandez believes she will live happily ever after when her father consents to her marriage to Juan Pedro. She leaves her father and six brothers in Mexico and drives to "el otro lado"—the other side—with Juan Pedro to start a new life as his wife in a ramshackle house in a dusty little Texas town. Across a stream called Woman Hollering Creek, Cleofilas soon finds that she has left the boring yet peaceful life she shared with her father and six brothers for the tumultuous, lonely, desperate life of a woman with an abusive husband. Her new life, which was supposed to have been full of the passion she had seen on television soap operas, grows "sadder and sadder with each episode,'' even though she believes that "when one finds, finally, the great love of one's life, [one] does whatever one can, must do, at whatever the cost." She is trapped with her infant son and widowed neighbors, Dolores and Soledad, along the banks of the creek with the name no one can explain. Cleofilas wonders if it is pain or anger that caused the woman of Woman Hollering Creek to holler. No one can answer; no one remembers.
Pregnant with her second child and promising to hide her most recent bruises, Cleofilas begs her husband to take her to the clinic for a check-up. The physician at the clinic, Graciela, realizes that Cleofilas is an abused woman who speaks no English, is completely cut off from her family, and desperately needs help to...
(The entire section is 339 words.)