Analysis

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 491

"One Holy Night" is a short story about a girl who falls in love with a boy, becomes pregnant, and loses the innocence of her childhood. There are several themes which you might like to analyse, and perhaps two of the most important are love and deception.

Illustration of PDF document

Download One Holy Night Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Love in the story is presented in a rather negative light. At the beginning of the story, the boy who the narrator falls in love with tells her that he will love her "like a revolution, like a religion." These similes suggest to the narrator that the boy's love for her will be life-changing, and the love between them sacred. She falls so much in love with this promise of love that she imagines losing her virginity to this boy. She imagines that it, her virginity, will "come undone like gold thread, like a tent full of birds." The connotations of "gold thread" suggest that the girl thinks of her virginity as something precious and delicate. The "birds" connote the feeling of transcendent freedom which she imagines she will experience after losing her virginity to the boy she loves. For the narrator, losing her virginity is, or is imagined to be, the ecstatic culmination and realization of her love.

Tragically, however, the narrator's love for this boy culminates in disappointment, despair, and the loss of her old, innocent self. The most significant symbol for this anticlimactic culmination of her love is, of course, the baby she is left with. She describes this baby as one might describe a predatory animal. It stirs inside her, and "circles and circles" like an animal about to pounce. One day, she fears, "it will tear from (her) with its own teeth." This baby is the literal and figurative culmination of her love for the boy.

The theme of deception is implied early in the story. Indeed, the opening lines of the story are, "He said his name was Chaq. Chaq Uxmal Paloquin. That's what he told me." The implication of these lines is that the boy she knew as Chaq told her lies. A little later in the story, she describes Chaq's voice as "sometimes like broken clay, and at other times like hollow sticks." The images here, "broken" and "hollow," foreshadow the narrator's realization that the boy's declarations of love are, like the clay and like the sticks, also "broken" and "hollow."

The themes of deception and love in this story go hand-in-hand. Arguably, the narrator's love is no more than a childish infatuation, manipulated and exploited by a boy who, in fact, turns out to be a much older, deceitful man. He takes a young girl's naive impressions of love and exploits them to get what he wants. When the girl realizes the deception, much of the pain she feels is perhaps rooted in the fact that her first experience of love, which she thought so pure and beautiful, is so negligently defiled, abused, and betrayed.

Style and Technique

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 202

Although Cisneros’s style is direct, using sparse prose and often withholding as much information as she supplies, her writing is richly textured. Irony plays an important role in this story, for the truth lies in the contrast between what the reader knows to be true about this seduction and what the narrator feels about her sexual awakening. There are other ironies: The mother had a similar initiation and was sent from Mexico to the United States; Chaq, who was to bring change, brought only more of the same, as the entire story confirms traditional human behavior.

Cisneros also uses an ironic blending of Christian and pagan imagery and allusion to provide depth and to demonstrate the sense of continuity felt by the narrator. On the “holy night” of her initiation, the little Catholic girl becomes Ixchel, the moon goddess, to Chaq, the rain god.

Finally, Cisneros uses extended metaphors to reveal...

(The entire section contains 949 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this One Holy Night study guide. You'll get access to all of the One Holy Night content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Themes
  • Analysis
  • Characters
  • Quotes
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Previous

Themes

Next

Characters