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In the story, Cleofila the protagonist has an attraction to the legend of the Arroyo. The legend of the Arroyo is similar to the life of Cleofila, in that both the women in the legend and Cleofila expressed their despair of their life through similar examples.
Both the woman in the Arroyo creek legend and Cleofila has experienced the same pain and anger. For example when Cleofila was first married she did not experience the pain from her life and thought that the Arroyo's was silly, "such a funny name for a creek so pretty and full of happily ever after" (282 para 3). Cleofila has not experienced the suffering, making it impossible for her to realize the Arroyo's meaning. It was until Cleofila gets beaten by her husband and left in emotional turmoil does she understand the legend of the Arroyo creek. Cleofila has always been drawn to this creek. Cleofila is portrayed as a woman who is submissive to her husband, and follow his machoism which is also Cleofila's biggest obstacles along with breaking away from that and having her own voice. Having the opportunity to voice herself is proving to be a bigger obstacle for Cleofila, being that she never fought back or yelling at her husband. The very first time when Cleofila's husband, Juan Pablo hit her, "it left her speechless, motionless, and numb. She had done nothing but reach up to the heat on her mouth and stare at the blood on her hand as if she did not understand" (282 para 7). The pure shock of the incident evoked her voice within.
The Arroyo became a possible voice for Cleofila, since she has not yet had the courage to voice herself. Throughout the story there are phrases that would indicate the water of the Arroyo as a much-needed force in her life. These phrases are: it rolls across the surface of the tongue, it gurgles in the throat, the hollow roar of the interstate; it bubbles and rises, all can be seen as the voice Cleofila wishes to have.
Cleofila in the story has an attraction to the love and passion portrayed in the telenovas she admired of so much. The author Cisneros uses the impractical portraits of the telenovas as a life Cleofila wishes to have. The telenovas are an escape for Cleofila from the reality of her own life in which 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 the cost" (280 para 1). It is apparent that Cleofila does not have this "passion" but Cleofila is blinded by her own pain and thinks that this is love. She has this preordained image of love and passion as being no-matter-what you must always love because that it is the most important thing. Cleofila describe this when she says, "This is the man I have waited my whole life forâ€¦she has to remind herself why she loves him" (283 para 3). How awful it must be to always evaluate your love for your husband to that of a soap opera.
Cisneros makes a startling effort to bring this element of despair out. Cisneros uses the other characters in the story as a comparison to Cleofila's despair. Soledad, who calls herself a widow, represents Cleofila's physical embarrassment and emotional pain. Soledad's husband has either left her for another woman, or just simply left. Like Cleofila, Soledad never mentions the pain she is in, or how she came into the state of misery, "It is hard to say which since Soledad, as a rule, didn't mention him." (281 para 5). Cleofila can't let anyone know what is happening to her, as she stated, "What a disgrace. What would the neighbors say?"(284 para 4). The second neighbor, Dolores represents Cleofila's grief and sadness for not living in the passion she so longed for. La Senora Dolores's two boys died in war and a husband who died shortly after from grief. As a result she now spends most of time on her garden (282). Like Senora Dolores, Cleofila has spent most of her time at her "sewing machine. A little rrr, rrr, rrr of the sewing machine and! zas! Miracles" (280 para 6).
Cleofila's opinions of the women have all been unpleasant, with the exception of Felice, who helps Cleofila escape. Instead of being looked as a negative aspect she is represented as being the positive. With Felice there is no thought of any negativity. She is a free spirit, no chains held her down. She has cut away from the submissiveness of being a Hispanic woman, to being in total control. If Felice had any pain in her life she has overcome it. This is apparent when she, "opened her mouth and let out a yell as loud as any mariachi" (287 para 9). The fact the Felice who owns her own pick-up truck, and doesn't have a husband astonishes Cleofila. Felice is the woman that Cleofila has been searching for, the expression of freedom, power, exertion all put into one person. No despair, no anguish, no pain, just being a woman and voicing it. Voicing it like a man, Felice says, "I used to own a Pontiac Sunbird. But those cars are for viejas. Pussy cars. What kind of talk was that coming from a women?" (288 para 4).
"Women Hollering Creek" by Sandra Cisneros is an encouraging piece of a woman chained by her culture's view of a women and having the strength of overcoming it. Although the environment and the people around Cleofila do not bring much hope of change to her she goes and escapes through the joy of watching telenovas. It was the reality of her own situation and the ones around her that gives her hope for a change in herself.