Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories

Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories

by

Sandra Cisneros

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The narrator of “Eleven.” Rachel outlines her theory about growing older, insisting that a younger age can sometimes creep up and take over a person’s behavior. This happens to her on her eleventh birthday, when her teacher Mrs. Price maintains that a raggedy old sweater is Rachel’s, insisting that she wear it. By the intensity of Rachel’s reaction, it’s obvious she’s embarrassed to be seen in an unflattering piece of clothing, a fact that suggests she’s self-conscious about her looks and perhaps also about her socioeconomic standing, since the sweater is old and cheap. When her classmate Sylvia Saldívar corroborates Mrs. Price’s theory that the sweater belongs to her, Rachel is incensed and calls Sylvia “stupid.” Finally, she puts on the sweater, crying like a three-year-old even though she’s eleven. Afterward, Phyllis Lopez—another classmate—admits the sweater actually belongs to her, but at this point Rachel has already embarrassed herself by weeping.

Rachel Quotes in Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories

The Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories quotes below are all either spoken by Rachel or refer to Rachel. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love, The Joy of Life, & Interconnection Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage Books edition of Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories published in 1991.
Eleven Quotes

This is when I wish I wasn’t eleven, because all the years inside of me—ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one—are pushing at the back of my eyes when I put one arm through one sleeve of the sweater that smells like cottage cheese, and then the other arm through the other and stand there with my arms apart like if the sweater hurts me and it does, all itchy and full of germs that aren’t even mine.

That’s when everything I’ve been holding in since this morning, since when Mrs. Price put the sweater on my desk, finally lets go, and all of a sudden I’m crying in front of everybody. I wish I was invisible but I’m not. I’m eleven and it’s my birthday today and I’m crying like I’m three in front of everybody. I put my head down on the desk and bury my face in my stupid clown-sweater arms. My face all hot and spit coming out of my mouth because I can’t stop the little animal noises from coming out of me, until there aren’t any more tears left in my eyes, and it’s just my body shaking like when you have the hiccups, and my whole head hurts like when you drink milk too fast.

Related Characters: Rachel (speaker), Mrs. Price, Sylvia Saldívar
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
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Rachel Character Timeline in Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories

The timeline below shows where the character Rachel appears in Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Eleven
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Rachel, the narrator of “Eleven,” explains that “when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and... (full context)
Cultural & National Identity Theme Icon
Today, though, on her eleventh birthday, Rachel wishes she didn’t have a collection of younger ages “rattling inside.” Rather, she wishes she... (full context)
Love, The Joy of Life, & Interconnection Theme Icon
Cultural & National Identity Theme Icon
Rachel tries to explain that the sweater doesn’t belong to her, but Mrs. Price merely says,... (full context)
Loss, Longing, & Grief Theme Icon
Upon opening her eyes, Rachel uses a ruler to move the sweater to the edge of her desk until it... (full context)