Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“One Holy Night” presents the traditional tale of seduction, a theme similar to that in Charles Perrault’s “Little Red Riding Hood,” first published in 1697. Chaq, the charming wolf, is not what he seems. He appeals to the narrator’s romantic sensibilities with his stories of Mayan kings; he claims to be one of the people of the sun, of the temples; he tells her his name means boy-child, and as such he would be the savior of the ancient Mayan culture. He promises to love her “like a revolution, like a religion.” He is all mystery, refusing to tell his age, saying he is of the past and the future, which are all one. He brings her a drink in a plastic cup and brushes her hair.

The narrator is clearly smitten by this man. Chaq’s attentions come from a different and mysterious world. The remainder of the story is familiar. She succumbs, avoids the truth as long as she can, and eventually is forced to face the consequences of her actions. The uncle and grandmother attempt to fix blame and then to find the villain, who has disappeared. Sandra Cisneros’s version of the seduction tale is intensified by the age of the victim and the psychopathic nature of the villain. Although the narrator says she is not just a girl, it is revealed that she is only thirteen or fourteen years of age. It is easier to understand, then, her willingness to believe the romantic line of this long-haired revolutionary with broken thumbs and greasy nails. Learning that...

(The entire section is 578 words.)