Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories

Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories

Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Sandra Cisneros's Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros grew up as the only daughter in a family of six boys, and her family moved frequently between Chicago and Mexico City as her father took different jobs. Cisneros’s mother was her strongest positive female influence, as she encouraged Sandra to read and continue her education. Cisneros began writing poems at the age of ten, and she later attended Loyola College and then the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. At Iowa she began writing about her own unique experiences instead of trying to imitate the primarily white male voices of the traditional literary canon. Cisneros is best known for The House on Mango Street and Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. She has become a leading figure of the Chicano literary movement, and has taught at several high schools and colleges. She currently lives and writes in San Antonio, Texas.
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Historical Context of Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories

Woman Hollering Creek often concerns itself with the process of immigration and integration into a new country, a process that began in America when the US won the Mexican-American War in 1848, thereby seizing large amounts of land from Mexico and allowing the Latino people who lived in these areas to become official US citizens. When the Mexican Revolution flared up in the 1910s, many Mexicans fled their violent country and sought safety north of the border. Cisneros’s story “Eyes of Zapata” examines this time period in particular with its focus on Emiliano Zapata, a revolutionary leader who fought for peasants’ rights. The other stories in Woman Hollering Creek deal not with the history of immigration, but rather the various personal consequences of assuming a multicultural, multinational identity. In addition, Cisneros’s work has become a landmark for American minority women writers, and she is one of the most famous Chicana and Latina writers. Her work criticizes both the sexism of the Mexican-American community and the racism and classism of English-American culture, and has become an important part of the increasing dialogue surrounding these issues.

Other Books Related to Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories

Woman Hollering Creek & Other Stories belongs to the Chicana Literary canon, a genre of literature by or about Mexican or Mexican-American women. This genre includes Cisneros’s well-known The House on Mango Street, which—like Woman Hollering Creek—examines the cultural positioning of Latinas in contemporary times. Another important work of Chicana Literature is Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s semi-autobiographical book, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestizas, a text that scrutinizes the role borders play in Latin-American life, both in terms of identity and sexuality. It’s also worth mentioning that famous Latino novels like Robert Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives have notoriously presented Latina sexuality in a male-centric manner that books like The House on Mango Street and Woman Hollering Creek ultimately challenge by providing nuanced perspectives of female subjectivity and power.
Key Facts about Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories
  • Full Title: Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories
  • When Published: April 13, 1991
  • Literary Period: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Chicana Literature
  • Genre: Short Fiction, Vignette
  • Setting: The majority of the stories in Woman Hollering Creek take place near the Mexican-American border, either in Texas or in Mexico.
  • Climax: Since Woman Hollering Creek is a collection of short stories, there is no single climax. However, certain stories—like “Never Marry a Mexican,” “Eyes of Zapata,” “Bien Pretty,” and the titular “Woman Hollering Creek”—serve as focal points in the text, since they are longer pieces that grapple most significantly with the collection’s themes regarding love, interconnection, cultural identity, female objectification, and power. 
  • Antagonist: In most of the stories, infidelity and misogyny act as the two most prominent antagonistic forces that threaten to drive lovers apart and oppress the book’s otherwise strong and independent female characters. In some cases, cultural barriers also contribute to this dynamic, ultimately making it hard for characters to relate to one another because they come from different backgrounds. 
  • Point of View: The vast majority of the stories in Woman Hollering Creek are written in first-person narration by unidentified speakers. However, these speakers often tell stories about other people, meaning that the text sometimes reads as if it’s written in the third-person. 

Extra Credit for Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories

Total Immersion. While writing the story “Eyes of Zapata,” Cisneros was so immersed in her work that Inés—the piece’s protagonist—entered her dreams. She even awoke one night thinking that she was Inés and that she was having a conversation with Zapata. This conversation later made its way into the story itself.

Reinvention. Like many of her characters in Woman Hollering Creek who often seek new lives and new identities, Cisneros moved to Texas (from Illinois) so that she could “disappear into” herself and “reinvent” herself.