Woman Hollering Creek

by Sandra Cisneros

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What feminist ideas are apparent in Woman Hollering Creek?

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In this story, the author, Sandra Cisneros, uses the feminist perspective to explain how Cleofilas hated her life as a housewife and how she sees herself in the situation. The author also explains how Cleofilas was abused by her husband and how she was oppressed by him. She tells us how Cleofilas is unhappy with her life and how she dreams of being free like a bird. The author also explains how Cleofilas's best friend helps her escape from her husband.

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A key idea in this story is the disconnect between many women's expectations of relationships and romantic love and the reality of such relationships, especially among working-class people.

Cleofilas, the main protagonist, watches telenovelas (Spanish-language soap operas) and imagines the life depicted in them as her ideal. Cisneros's overall point may be (as many authors writing from a feminist perspective would agree) that media presentations like this are part of the socialization process directed toward women to indoctrinate them with unrealistic ideas about marriage. Cleofilas's husband, Juan Pedro, is abusive to her. He manipulates her by apologizing up and down and crying in order to express regret over his behavior. This can be seen, again from a feminist perspective, as a typical part of the male-dominated culture, in which a man plays upon the sympathetic nature of a woman to get what he wants and to stop her from leaving him.

The counterbalance to this is the community of women, the key positive factor in Cisneros's story. It is only with the help of her friend Felice that Cleofilas is able to escape the abusive marriage into which she has been locked, as the two drive in triumph over the eponymous creek of the story.

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The idea from the feminist perspective that women can do anything that men can do is embodied by Felice, the woman who gives Cleófilas a lift while she is making her escape. While Cleófilas comes from a world in which women are oppressed, Felice lives in a world in which she is able to live alone, drive her own truck and enjoy complete independence. The encounter with Felice opens Cleófilas's eyes to the fact that a different way of life is possible.

Linked to this is the feminist notion of having one's own voice. Having been handed from her father to her abusive husband, and with an idea of love that was formulated by watching telenovelas, Cleófilas has no notion that she may speak for herself and is entitled to her own opinions. This also changes as a result of her meeting with Felice.

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A prime illustration of feminist ideas comes in the shape of Felice. She's very much her own woman: she lives alone, makes her own way in the world, and doesn't need to depend on any man. To Cleófilas this is something of a revelation; she's never come across a woman like this before. Felice epitomizes the kind of strong, independent woman that forms the feminist ideal.

Cleófilas finds herself instinctively drawn to Felice and her fiercely independent lifestyle. For the first time in her life, she's caught a glimpse of a different world; a world where women are not expected to live their lives exclusively through their fathers, husbands, and children. Felice's loud, full-throated Tarzan call is not just an expression of her independence; it also represents an invitation to Cleófilas and other women like her to rethink their lives and stake out a path for themselves.

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A central idea from the feminist perspective in Sandra Cisneros' novel Woman Hollering Creek is that of control, specifically, a woman's control over her own life. This is demonstrated in Cleofilas' story. The most telling moment that emphasizes this idea is when the clinic physician Graciela speaks to Cleofilas on the telephone. Significantly, this incident moves from a third person narrator to first person when Graciela speaks.

Another idea from the feminist perspective is demonstrated in this same section. This second feminist perspective idea is that of voice. Cloefilas is without a voice. She is an unwilling participant in events that occur to her without a voice to use in denouncing them or stopping them. Suddenly, during Graeciela's first person phone conversation, Cleofilas disconvers her voice. There is a strong symbolic tie between this idea of the discovery or recovery of the feminine voice and Woman Hollering Creek.

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