I question whether these two people in the story are having an affair, back together after a divorce, or whatever? Something as simple as bread can lead to that answer. The bread is much like their relationship, actually exactly like it. “We were hungry. We went into a Bakery on Grand Avenue and bought bread. Filled the backseat. The whole car smelled of bread. Big sourdough loaves shaped like a fat ass”(Cisneros 84). It was an affair. They were lusting each other and finally have to give in and it is Grand, like the Avenue, it fills the backseat, and the whole car smells of it. Comparing the bread to an ass also takes on a sexual tone. “We ripped big chunks with our hands and ate”(Cisneros 84). They gorged themselves with this bread and with sex.
Next comes the music. “A tango on the tape player loud, loud, loud, because me and him, we’re the only ones who can stand it like that, like if the bandoneon, violin, piano, guitar, bass, were inside us, like when he wasn’t married, like before his kids, like if all the pain hadn’t passed between us”(Cisneros 84). The music too is like their love. It also explains they are the only ones that can stand it like that. This might be why they still have this love that once was, even after the fact that he is married with children. She then mentions the pain that occurred between them, and you then question what exactly their relationship is.
But it doesn’t seem that the man feels the same way about what occurred between them. “Driving down streets with buildings that remind him, he says, how charming this city is. And me remembering when I was little, a cousin’s baby who died from swallowing rat poison”(Cisneros 84). To me it seems that their view may differ slightly. Like their view of events past. He remembers them as being charming, and sweet. Yet her thoughts are of babies dying from rat poison. Like their relationship had. He probably got this wife of his pregnant so they went off to get married, leaving her behind. But now he realizes he still has some feelings for her so he figures he’ll have this fling every now and then. But all the while inside, she is in pain from her love for him.
“One Holy Night” Sandra Cisneros
The story begins by telling the reader a bit about events following the actual story. The narrator has done something, yet it is hard to say what that was. She then makes a reference to not being like other girls who go with men into alleys, and how she did not want it like that. “Not against the bricks or hunkering in somebody’s car. I wanted it come undone like gold thread, like a tent full of birds. The way I knew it would be when I met Boy Baby”(Cisneros 28). This seems to me to be about sex, buy maybe I am crazy. But then at the bottom of page twenty-nine, “It was there, that he showed me the guns – twenty-four in all. So you’ll see who I am, he said, laying them all out on the bed of newspapers. So you’ll understand. But I didn’t want to know”(Cisneros 29). At this it now seems as though she and this guy would get into trouble with all of these guns or something. But somewhere between pages 30 and 31 I realize that it was definitely sex that she was talking about. “And how it is that sex isn’t simply a box you check M or F on in the test we get at school”(Cisneros 31).
By the end of the story you discover this guy, so-called Boy Baby, is a rapist and murderer. Talk about irony. “A picture of him looking very much like stone, police hooked on either arm…on the road to Las Gratas de Xtacumbilxuna, the Caves of the Hidden Girls…eleven female bodies…the last seven years…Then I couldn’t read buy only stare at the little black-and-white dots that make up the face I am in love with”(Cisneros 34). And this is what I feel is the central meaning to this story. That the love of a 14-year-old girl is blinding. She does not know how, or why, all she knows is that this man, pretending to care for her, is something mysterious and yet captivating at the same time. “He brought me Kool-Aid in a plastic cup. Then I knew what I felt for him”(28). I mean seriously. This girl is pretty pathetic. It is even kind of funny. This guy has killed and raped eleven other girls. He is probably going to look like a psycho. He brings this young girl a cup of freaking Kool-Aid and she knows she loves him. It does not get much worse than that. Even the title, One Holy Night, hardly holy I would think, gives off a mocking tone.
“Barbie – Q” Sandra Cisneros
This story seems to contain the theme that to those who wait good things will come. And maybe even, be grateful of what you have, for many others are much less fortunate than you. The story is being told to the reader, as if the reader were a character. That character either being a friend or sister of the narrator in a similar financial situation. They make the most of what they have and can afford. That being one Barbie doll and one extra outfit apiece. But on this Sunday they go to the flea market on Maxwell Street [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHMHFO5n6Cc] and there they were.
“Lying on the street next to some tool bits, and platform shoes with the heels all squashed, and a fluorescent green wicker wastebasket, and aluminum foil, and hubcaps, and a pink shag rug, and windshield wiper blades, and dusty mason jars, and a coffee can full of rusty nails. There! Where? Two Mattel boxes…How much? Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, until they say okay”(Cisneros 15).
This young girl is beyond excited. She’s spitting out all these things stammering and pointing towards where the dolls are at. “On the outside you and me skipping and humming but inside we are doing loopity-loops and pirouetting”(Cisneros 15). And I’m sure they probably would be flipping and rolling down the sidewalk like some gymnast if they could. It especially didn’t matter that all of these dolls had been damaged by water and smoke in a fire at the toy warehouse on Halsted Street.
“So what if we didn’t get our new Bendable Legs Barbie and Midge and Ken and Skipper and Tutti and Todd and Scooter and Ricky and Alan and Francie in nice clean boxes and had to buy them on Maxwell Street, all water-soaked and sooty…And if the prettiest doll has a left foot that’s melted a little – so? If you dress her in her new “Prom Pinks” outfit, satin splendor with matching coat, gold belt, clutch, and hair bow included, so long as you don’t lift her dress, right? – who’s to know”(Cisneros 16).
They could care less about all of this. It seems like a miracle that they were able to get all of these dolls and outfits, and for so cheap. Considering that prior, for Christmas they each got one new outfit. But now they had all they could ever have wanted.
And I’m sure there is a lesson to be learned from this story by those who would be considered more fortunate. Maybe they too often take for granted what they have, and don’t realize how tough it can really be. This story just goes to show that no matter what, you need to be thankful to whomever for what it is you have.
“Tin Tan Tan” Sandra Cisneros
This story is written as a poem from a man, Rogelio Velasco, to a girl. Lupita her name, I’d guess because of the bold letters at the beginning of each paragraph that spell it out. The story is filled with feelings, and heart, as well as several rhyming lines. It starts off with a short Spanish intro, which I believe translates to:
“You abandoned me, lady, because I am very poor and for having the disgrace of being married to me. What I am going to do if I am the abandoned, the abandoned be for God.”
– “The Abandoned”
Following this are six paragraphs that all describe Rogelio’s love and despair as it goes through stages. It starts off telling the girl that she is the “thorn in my soul, pebble in my shoe, jewel of my life”(Cisneros 135) that has broken his heart. And he then asks why don’t you just come back and ease the pain. He then turns in anguish and sulks to himself. And then says there must be others, but none will love you like I do, and ends with, “If perhaps some crystal moment before dawn or twilight you remember me, bring only a bouquet of tears to lay upon my thirsty grave” (Cisneros 136). All the while the paragraphs are changing tone as the author’s feelings change. He is first in pain, and searching for that which will relieve him. But then grows angry and blames others for trying to take her from him. And in the end is tired of the pain and gives up.
This is much like the feelings of any desperate man. This girl has blocked her heart to him, and all he can do is plead with her to take him back, but she will not. It ends in a very sad way as well, with this man’s only escape from his pain being death. I think the end of the intro, “the abandoned be for God,” means he is going to kill himself and go to God now that he knows he cannot have her love.
“My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn” Sandra Cisneros
The story is told from the narrator’s perspective, and is about her friend Lucy. Lucy seems like a fun loving girl, the type that people are just drawn to. The author at first seems jealous and wants to be like Lucy, but settles in the end for being like a sister as her best friend.
“I’m going to sit in the sun, don’t care if it’s a million trillion degrees outside, so my skin can get so dark it’s blue where it bends like Lucy’s. Her whole family like that”(Cisneros 3). It doesn’t matter how hot it is, she is still willing to stay outside to just look like Lucy and her family. She also goes on to then talk about how she wants to have sisters like Lucy, and be able to sleep in a bed with all of them instead of alone on a fold out chair.
The best part about all of this is that it doesn’t matter if Lucy’s house has a screen door with no screen, or some of the windows are painted pink and some blue. They’re too young and innocent to worry about things like that. She adores Lucy regardless of their wealth or status. All she knows is Lucy is fun and anything they do together is as well.
“We’re going to run home backwards and we’re going to run home forwards, look twice under the house where the rats hid and I’ll stick one foot in there because you dared me. I’m going to peel a scab from my knee and eat it, sneeze on the cat, give you three M & M’s I’ve been saving for you since
yesterday, comb your hair with my fingers and braid it into teeny-tiny braids real pretty”(Cisneros 5).
These are the things that mattered to her. They didn’t seem dumb or childish, they were just fun. And with her friend Lucy it made it that much better. Anything could be fun when she was around.
Through this story to me it seems the author attempts to show that it’s not on the outside that matters, and sometimes a recollection of childhood can remind us of that. The narrator is aware of the poverty Lucy lives in, yet it seems to make her home and family seem more interesting. Lucy is her friend and there is nothing that you could tell her otherwise to change her mind.
“Tepeyac” Sandra Cisneros
Tepeyac is, I think the name of the place where this narrator and her family lives. The main focus of this story is on her grandfather, Abuelito, in Spanish, as he’s called in the story. The story is told as a recollection of the narrator’s past. First described is the market place, and surroundings of where Abuelito’s shop is located. The narrator arrives at the shop as it’s closing and together her and her grandfather have their walk home. She describes the walk as she can remember, everyday alongside her grandfather, each time counting the twenty-two steps up to the house.
“Uno, dos, tres – to the supper of sopa de fideo and carne guisada – cuatro, cinco, seis – the glass of cafe con leche – siete, ocho, nueve – shut the door against the mad parrot voice of the Abuela – diez, once, doce – fall asleep as we always do, with the television mumbling – trece, catorce, quince – the Abuelito snoring – dieciseis, diecisiete, dieciocho – the grandchild, the one who will leave soon for that borrowed country – diecinueve, veinte, veintiuno – the one he will not remember, the one he is least familiar with – veintidos, veintitres, veinticuatro – years later when the house on La Fortuna, number 12, is sold, when their store changes owners…when Abuelito falls asleep one last time – Veinticinco, veintiseis, veintisiete – years afterward when I return to the shop, repainted and redone as a pharmacy…to the house on La Fortuna, number 12, smaller and darker than when we lived there, with the rooms boarded shut and rented to strangers” (Cisneros 23).
The meaning of the entire story lies within this paragraph and the very last. In this, the narrator’s memories are coming and going as she recalls the days her and her grandfather would climb the steps to their house. They are first of those days when they’d head inside and hear Abuela scold them, and together fall asleep watching TV. It then says, “the one he will not remember, the one he is least familiar with.” I’m not sure, but I think this is referring to the narrator herself. But it doesn’t seem to fit, since she was the one who’d fall asleep watching TV with him, and hear his snoring while she lay there. Perhaps the grandfather didn’t treat her as good as she thought he should’ve.
“Who would’ve guessed, after all this time, it is me who will remember when everything else is forgotten, you who took with you to your stone bed something irretrievable, without a name”(Cisneros 23). As it seemed before she had always loved her grandfather dearly, probably more than anyone else in the family. Considering she compares the grandmother’s voice to a mad parrot. But it still seems as if the grandfather didn’t feel the same for her, “Who would’ve guessed”? Well for one thing, I would’ve guessed because you were the one walking home with him day after day having that special time together.
Or maybe now the narrator is realizing how good the grandfather was to her, and how she always just shrugged it off. “The grandchild, the one who will leave soon for that borrowed country.” She is now regretting that she left before the grandfather died. She might even be blaming herself for his death. She questions herself, and realizes that she should not have left, and it is her fault, not the grandfathers, that their relationship was not what it could’ve been.
“Eleven” Sandra Cisneros
On her eleventh birthday, the day on which the story takes place, Rachel wishes she were anything but eleven. She’s describes being eleven as being ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and so on, “the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or the rings of a tree trunk…Like some days you might say something stupid, and that’s the part of you that’s still ten.
Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama’s lap because you’re scared, and that’s the part of you that’s five”(Cisneros 6). I think that this is the main meaning of the story as well. That as you grow old, you take with you a little part of every day along the way. So on those days when life just stinks, and all you want to do is cry is when the part of you that’s still young is pushing its way out.
For Rachel, every year prior to this day forces its way out in front of her entire class because of this gross red sweater the teacher thought was hers and made her put on. And all she can wish, is that she was one hundred and two so she’d know exactly what to say to Mrs. Price. It was just that kind of day, and she can’t hold her tears back anymore. Cisneros uses this example to put into perspective for her readers the way they may feel on a similar day. I know I’ve had days when all I want to do is freak out and scream, kind of like today when I’m reading stories, and responding to them for several hours.
The most ironic thing about the story is towards the end and is so true. “But the worst part is right before the bell rings for lunch. That stupid Phyllis Lopez, who is even dumber than Sylvia Saldivar (the girl who said the sweater was Rachel’s), says she remembers the red sweater is hers” (Cisneros 9). This kind of thing seems to always find its way of happening. Especially after you have already been crying in front of everyone. And it helps to top off the day.
“I want today to be far away already, far away like a runaway balloon, like a tiny o in the sky, so tiny-tiny you have to close your eyes to see it” (Cisneros 9). I like this closing sentence of the story, because it is simply the best way to describe how you feel about those kind of days.
“Woman Hollering Creek” Sandra Cisneros
This story is interesting, but confusing at the same time. Cleofilas leaves her father and brothers in Mexico, to go to be with Juan Pedro in Seguin in the U.S. He beats her, and a doctor she goes to see arranges for her to get a ride with a friend of hers to the Greyhound station in San Antonio to get away from him. At the end of the first page a theme of the story is basically flat out told, “She would not remember her father’s parting words until later. I am your father, I will never abandon you…Only now as a mother did she remember. Now, when she and Juan Pedrito (her son) sat by the creek’s edge. How when a man and a woman love each other, sometimes that love sours.
But a parent’s love for a child, a child’s for its parents, is another thing entirely” (Cisneros 43). This is what we are given in the beginning, then the story behind this statement is told. The love between her and Juan Pedro sours, due to the obvious fact that he is abusive. And yet she hangs in there for the sake of her newborn child until she can no longer take it. At the doctors she just breaks down. As a mother, she has put her child, and her unborn child, before her own well being. She knew that she had no where to go if she would have left Juan Pedro sooner. So even through all the book throwing, and slapping she stayed.
Another central idea of the story is women’s rights. The story was published in 1991, yet Cisneros manages to still show the harshness of male dominance prior to the movement. The story ends with Cleofilas leaving her home and husband to go with this other woman Felice, to the Greyhound station in San Antonio, and eventually back to her father in Mexico. Felice is the part of the story that represents Cisneros’ feminist views. “When they drove across the arroyo (the creek named Woman Hollering), the driver opened her mouth and let out a yell as loud as any mariachi. Which startled not only Cleofilas, but Juan Pedrito as well…Every time I cross that bridge I do that.
Because of the name, you know. Woman Hollering. Pues, I holler” (Cisneros 55). I picture Felice as this big butch of woman who doesn’t care what men think, or have to say. “Everything about this woman, this Felice, amazed Cleofilas. The fact that she drove a pickup…I used to have a Pontiac Sunbird. But those cars are for viejas. Pussy cars. Now this here is a real car” (Cisneros 55). Cleofilas cannot help, but only be amazed by what she is seeing, and then just laughs along with her.
Actually, I think that the Woman Hollering Creek also symbolizes women’s rights. And I think that that might be the meaning behind the whole story. Just the name, Woman Hollering, makes me think of women activists. And because of the way Felice describes it, “Did you ever notice, Felice continued, how nothing around here is named after a woman? Really. Unless she’s the Virgin. I guess you’re only famous if you’re a virgin. She was laughing again. That’s why I like the name of that arroyo.
Makes you want to holler like Tarzan, right?” (Cisneros 55) That’s exactly what a women’s rights symbol should be like. It should make you want to shout like Tarzan. I think that this theme is a little harder to realize because of the introduction of the other idea on the first page. As I read I just thought of that one over and over, and didn’t really notice the other until the end where it was obviously very prevalent.
Sandra Cisneros is much like the characters she used for this piece. She too is “the daughter of a Mexican father and a Mexican-American mother, and a sister to six brothers” (About the Author 169). But she has no husband, and no children like some of the characters. She can take on the voice of any of these characters, and throughout the book it is hard to tell whether she really is the person talking to you from the story, or whether it is just an imaginary character. A character who may have been shaped in some way by her own experience. In the front of the book there are several reviews about the book, two of which I couldn’t agree with more:
” “Cisneros is a fearless writer boldly plunging into complex characters and risky situations, and in Woman Hollering Creek she displays a virtuoso range. Cisneros has a poet’s ear and eye.”
“A brave author. She gives her heart to her readers like a birthday present wrapped in tears. Cisneros is the whisper that you strain to hear from the mouth of a lover.”
– Kansas City Star”
All of the stories sound like poetry, and she actually has published a book entirely of poetry, My Wicked Wicked Ways. I think it is just the descriptive words, and great detail she uses that makes it seem this way.
In short, all of the stories within this book, either relating to her directly or not, “Challenges her reader to see life as it really is – full of unrequited passions and solitary confusions, with moments of connection real but few and far between”(Detroit Free Press).