1. In the short story, “Woman Hollering Creek,” Cisneros creates a character, Cleófilas, that exposes some of the contradictions within cultural expectations and realities about being a wife, or at least being in love. What should a Mexican woman sacrifice for love? What does the story suggest about pain, grief, shame, rage, and joy? What roles and possibilities are open to women, in both Mexico and the United States? Describe different types of community in both of these countries.
As you consider some of these questions, be aware that Cleófilas is identified with the weeping woman of folklore, la Llorona (Links to an external site.). What do you think this folktale reveals about cultural attitudes and anxieties about women? How and why does Cisneros rewrite the folktale? How does Cisneros use other characters, such as Soledad and Dolores, to revise this cultural type in different ways?
2. Here is a link (Links to an external site.)where you can see an interview of Sandra Cisneros being interviewed by Dorothy Allison. (If you are interested, here is a link (Links to an external site.) to her reading selected works.) During the interview, she makes some interesting remarks about the role of a “mistress,” among other things. Here are a couple of the more relevant segments:
It is only natural that she might consider this position after a rejection of “wife.” She examines the role of mistress in two stories, “Never Marry a Mexican” and “The Eyes of Zapata.” Evaluate the conclusions that she reaches.
You might also consider what these stories, especially the first one, suggest about prejudices between Mexican Nationals and Mexican Americans. Between Mexican Americans and European Americans. Between men and women from each of these positions.
3. “Bien Pretty” presents a female character that seems to represent a woman who attempts to move beyond relationships with men. What does the story suggest about alternate possibilities? About desire? Examine how this story rounds out Cisneros’s consideration of female identities and evaluate her conclusions. It is worth noting that Lupe is an artist, like Cisneros. You might want to have a look at how she revises the story of Prince Popo and Princess Ixta.
You may write about any of these topics in part or in full. You may, of course, choose your own topic. Your essay must have a thesis, and support the thesis with evidence from the text. You may assume that your reader is familiar with the plot and the characters, so you do not need to (should not) summarize excessively. Because you are writing about how the novel works, you will not need to use the first person/singular. In other words, you do not need sentences like: “As I will show in this paper…” or “In my opinion….” Just state your opinions as fact, but support them with evidence, and explain the significance of your evidence. If you want to discuss the effects of certain aspects of the work, it’s best to refer to “the reader’s” response rather than to your own. Your essay should be 3-5 pages in length, MLA format.
If you use outside sources (which is unnecessary but allowable), follow standard citation rules. Do not plagiarize.
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