“Woman Hollering Creek” is the title story of a book of short stories written by Sandra Cisneros in 1991. Each story in the book deals with women’s dreams, aspiration, disappointment and realities. Some stories deal with these issues when the women are young girls, some when they are adolescent and some as adults. The main character in “Woman Hollering Creek” is a young bride that quickly learns that what she has seen on TV and read in magazines is not the reality of her situation. The main character is named Cleofilas Enriqueta DeLeon Hernandez. She is about to be married to Juan Pedro Martinez Sanchez. A man who came into Mexico from a town called Sequin, Texas. From “en al otro lado, the other side” (Cisneros) She was caught up the business of getting married that she barely heard her father tell her “I am your father. I will never abandon you.” She remembered him saying this to her after she became a mother as was often alone at home with her son. She thought that the love of between a man and woman can dissolve, but the love between a parent and child is binding. (Cisneros) As a young bride she quickly came to realize that her marriage was not that of the telenovelas that her and her girlfriends watched religiously.
Her marriage didn’t have the passion she craved as a young girl and that her husband was not the dashing man of her dreams. She was speechless the first time he hit her. It appeared that she may have been in shock that a man who was supposed to love and protect her would hurt her in this manner. She also came to realize that her husband would not come home some nights. That he was keeping company with other women. She was alone and very lonely. She was embarrassed to tell her family in Mexico about her circumstances for fear that they would not understand or be ashamed of her. She was also fearful of the gossips back home and what they would think of her if she were to go back to daddy. Cleofilas befriended her neighbors Dolores and Soledad. I find that the author used these names to enhance what Cleofilas was feeling. Dolores and Soledad are pain and loneliness in Spanish. Both of these women have suffered because of the men in their lives. They looked out for her. Soledad would let here watch the telenovelas from time to time. Cheofilas had to depend on Juan Pedro for everything; money to eat and to keep up the house.
She had to depend on him for rides to the store or doctor. He would complain to her if she asked him to do something in the house that it should be enough that he works hard to bring home the money to pay for the house. The creek that ran behind their house was known as Woman Hollering Creek. She had asked around if anyone knew why such a pretty creek would be called such a silly name. She often wonders if the name had any connection to the story of La Llorna. La Llona is a story told throughout Mexico and the southwest of a beautiful woman named Maria. Maria married a dashing young rancher and had two children. A few years after they were married, her husband often left Maria and the children alone. When he would return, he would only see the children and ignore Maria. One day he came into town with another woman at his side. He only stopped to see the children and then went on his way. At this Maria was so enraged that she grabbed her children and drowned them in the river.
When she realized what she had done. She spent the entire night trying to find them. The town’s people found her dead at the side of the river never having found her children. Now on dark nights she is heard crying for her children and seen walking along the banks of the river. Parents warn their children not to go out late at night or La Llorna will get them and drown them as well. (Hayes). I feel Cleofilas had a connection with La Llorna and her story. This might have drawn Cleofilas to the creek when she was depressed. When she was alone and her husband was out catting around, she would find comfort in the sound of the creek. I don’t believe Cleofilas would hurt her baby or herself, but I think the thought might have crossed her mind from time to time. Her neighbors would tell her not to go to the river at night. She might die of fright. I don’t think Cleofilas was ever afraid of the creek. I think it soothed her in some way Cleofilas was expecting a second child and need to go to the doctor. She pleaded with her husband for the money and a ride to go into town. She still had the signs of a recent beating and she explained to Juan Pedro that she would tell the doctor that she fell.
Juan Pedro took her to the doctor. There she found her guardian angels in Graciela and Felice. They made a plan to get her back to her family in Mexico and out of harm’s way. I feel the theme is about borders. Not only were there the physical borders like the border between Mexico and the U.S., but also the emotional borders, language borders and society borders. Cleofilas had all of these borders to cross and some of these borders kept her in her situation. The tone of this story this story is loneliness. How a woman that is totally dependent on someone, can feel very alone and confused. How the sounds of the creek feel lonely to some people but to Cleofilas it was an escape. The creek flows away from where she was and found freedom.
Being a victim of spousal abuse, I can relate to the confusion and desperation Cleofilas might have felt during this time. I am sure she felt stuck in her situation with no one to turn to for help. She only had that creek and its soothing sounds. I first read this story and this book in my Women of Color class. I really liked this story in particular. It made me think about the times in my life where I have dreamt of how I think things will turn out and I would live happily ever after. But then in reality, nothing ever turns out how I had imagined. Reality is much harder to deal with then fantasy. I think we all have various borders to contend with in our lives. Whether we decide to cross them or live within them shapes us as individuals. I loved reading this story again. I thank God for the guardian angels in my life.
Cisneros, Sandra. “Woman Hollering Creek.” Olmos, Harold Augenbraum and Margarite Fernandez. The Latino Reader. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997. 457-468. —. Women Hollering Creek. New York: Vintage Books, 1991.
Hayes, Joe. “Teachings from a Hispanic Perspective.” n.d. Literacynet.cor. 21 September 2012 <http://www.literacynet.org/lp/hperspectives/llorona.html>.