Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories

Background

From early on, a bond ran throughout Cisneros's family as a result of being separated from their homeland and having to live as Mexican-Americans in Chicago.[3] Cisneros was born into a family of seven children and was often singled out as she was the only daughter.[4] Despite the abundance of sibling playmates, Cisneros always felt lonely as a child, thus prompting her to begin creating stories to vary her daily routine.[4]

After many years of writing, Cisneros used Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories to explore the failed relationships of the female characters via their reactions to the men in their lives.[5] This feminine focus in the stories may reflect Cisneros's own views on relationships, as she does not appear to have a strong connection to any male figures in her life: "For her, men seem to be a utility that a woman turns on and off as required."[6] As the writing is from a Mexican-American immigrant's point of view, this feminism contends not only with the stereotype of gender, but of class and race as well.[7] Cisneros "creates stories, not explanations or analyses or arguments", which describe her feminist views with "more provisional, personal, emotional, and intuitive forms of narrative".[7]

An example of her feminine focus is found in the title story "Woman Hollering Creek", which concentrates on a woman who is physically abused by her husband and feels drawn towards the nearby creek. She becomes depressed and sits beside the water with her new baby, contemplating how a woman could be driven crazy. Cisneros develops this tale, which has also been found slightly modified in Aztec, Greek, and Spanish cultures, from the legend of La Llorona (Spanish for "weeping woman"), a ghost story found in Mexico and Texas.[8] In the myth, "a beautiful young woman named Maria falls in love and marries a handsome, rich boy, and their union is blessed with two sons and a daughter".[8] Soon after, the man loses his affection for his wife. Maria, knowing that her husband no longer loves her, drowns their three children in the river and then herself. Upon reaching heaven, Maria is told that she cannot enter until she has found her children. She is sent back to Earth, where she wails sorrowfully for her children. According to legend, any child that happens upon her ghost is pulled into the river and drowned. The real Woman Hollering Creek, a body of water just off Interstate 10 in Texas, is the river which Cisneros mentions in her story.[9] The protagonist in "Woman Hollering Creek" is rescued from her abusive husband by two strangers before she goes mad.


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