Woman Hollering Creek Summary
Cleofilas longs for "passion in its purest crystalline essence. The kind the books
and songs and telenovelas describe when one finds, finally, the great love of one's life,
and does whatever one can, must do, at whatever cost." Because, she believes, "to suffer
for love is good. The pain all sweet somehow." Unhappily, the passive acceptance of
suffering for love that Cleofilas learns as she grows up makes her especially vulnerable to
her abusive husband. She had always believed that "she would strike back if a man, any
man, were to strike her." Instead, when Juan Pedro first hits her, "she had been so
stunned, it left her speechless, motionless, numb." Unbelieving and forgiving when the
abuse begins, Cleofilas wonders why her pain goes beyond the sweet pain of her soap
opera heroines. Where is the love that is supposed to go along with the pain?
Cleofilas learns that the only love that endures in her life is the love of a parent for a
child. When she leaves her father's house in Mexico, he tells her, "I am your father, I will
never abandon you." Although he gives her in marriage to a man whose violence is
unknown to them, he welcomes her home after she escapes her life of domestic abuse.
Women, in Cleofilas' culture, are assigned to carefully circumscribed roles, as they
are in most cultures. For example, she is given to Juan Pedro by her father, moves from
her father's house into her husband's house, does not drive or have access to a car, and is
isolated with her child to the small house where she must cook, clean, and care for her
family without even the companionship of a television. She is shocked to meet Felice, a
woman who drives a pickup truck that is her own, not her husband's, since she does not
even have a husband. It is a truck she chose and that she pays for herself. Felice's life is
full of freedom that...
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