Woman Hollering Creek

by Sandra Cisneros

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Woman Hollering Creek Summary

Woman Hollering Creek” by Sandra Cisneros is the story of Cleófilas, a young Mexican woman who moves to Seguin, Texas, to be with her husband, Juan Pedro.

  • Cleófilas is quickly disillusioned by the reality of her life in Seguin, which is nothing like the fairy tale she had imagined.
  • She finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage, with a husband who is abusive and unfaithful.
  • Cleófilas eventually decides to leave Juan Pedro and return to Mexico, where she finds happiness and laughter once again.


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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 611

“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 not laugh the first time Juan hits her; she does not say a word. Eventually after many beatings and the birth of their son, Juan Pedrito, she sits on the creek bank listening to the high silver voice of the water. It is calling her. She is sure of it. The sounds remind her of La Llorona, a woman who drowned her own children. She wonders if they named the creek for her.

Cleófilas’s two friends, Dolores and Soledad, caution her about the dangers of La Gritona, especially after dark. Do not go there, they advise. To take her mind off Juan’s nightly drinking at the tavern and his affairs with other women (he was with one woman while she was at the hospital giving birth to their son), she escapes by watching a few episodes of a Mexican soap opera on Soledad’s television. She realizes that her life has begun to resemble a soap opera, each episode sadder than the previous one.

When she learns she is pregnant with their second child, her mood changes. She argues with Juan, urging him to take her to the doctor for a prenatal checkup. She promises to tell the doctor that her extensive bruises are the result of a fall down the front steps. When he hesitates, she pressures him. It is for their unborn child, she says. He must relent and drive her for a sonogram. At the doctor’s office with her husband in the waiting room, she breaks down. A caring nurse makes a quick secretive phone call to her friend, Felice. The next day, while Juan is at work, Cleófilas takes her baby and walks to the Cash ’N Carry off the I-10 interstate. Felice is waiting in her pickup truck to drive her to the Greyhound station in San Antonio, where she will board a bus for Mexico. As they cross Woman Hollering Creek, Felice lets out a yell and laughs. Soon, much to her surprise and relief, Cleófilas hears the long forgotten sound of laughter coming from her own lips.

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