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20100413-1230 Alexie and Harjo (Group 3)

Page history last edited by Brian Croxall 10 years, 6 months ago



     Starting with "Woman Hollering Creek," we discussed Cisneros's use of Spanish in her writing. She does not write for as exclusive of an audience as Anzaldua, but she does include some Spanish elements that only certain populations would be familiar with. For example, she mentions the legend of La Llorona. She does make it possible for the reader to understand the basic elements of the legend, but without being culturally familiar with it, some significance gets lost in translation.

     Cisneros also uses her characters to move between and beyond Mexican feminine prototypes, namely La Virgen, La Chingada, and La Llorana. Cleofilas begins the story as the virgen, and later reflects the haunting story of La Llorona, before finally breaking free of both of these characters with the help of Felice, who defies Mexican female stereotypes with her independence. In addition to highlighting contention working among Mexican feminine prototypes, Cisneros (much like Anzaldua) indicates Mexican men being at odds with themselves over the masculinity they are supposed to emulate. Cleofilas' husband drinks with his friends and all of them refuse to say what they want and need to say to each other, refuse to admit their feelings or frustrations. 

     Our short but thought-provoking discussion of Sherman Alexie centered on his invoking of Whitman, particularly in "The Exaggeration of Despair," through the use of free verse, long lines, and cataloging. Alexie's varying style, from the somber and deep to the humorous and quirky, highlights his celebrated ability as a writer.


Word Count: 232




"Because to suffer for love is good. The pain all sweet somehow. In the end."

-Sandra Cisneros,"Woman Hollering Creek" (1991)


From watching telenovelos, Cleofilas is taught to adopt the dominant ideology, how to live and behave. As she sees on television, suffering for love is alright because that is what the perfect, loving woman does. She puts up with her husbands beatings until after she is pregnant, then finally realizes suffering is not necessarily love.


"...But when the moment came, and he slapped her once, and then again, and again; until the lip split and bled an orchid of blood, she didn't fight back, she didn't break into tears, she didn't run away as she imagined she might when she saw such things in telenovelas."(3167)


In this passage we discussed how Cisneros shows the reality of spousal abuse, and the nature of women to be shocked by the fact that their spouse would hit them, but not shocked enough to leave.  Cisneros shows a reality check for Cleofilas and foreshadows her leaving by describing the way in which she thought she would react. 



"They want to tell each other what they want to tell themselves. But what is bumping like a helium balloon at the ceiling of the brain never finds its way out" (3167).


 In this passage, Cisneros describes the frustrations of cultural stereotypes as effecting men as well as women. It is reminiscent of Anzaldua's analysis of the concept of "macho" and how this concept can lead to mistreatment of women. While neither author condones violence or degradation of women, both evoke a kind of sympathy and understanding of the constricting social stereotypes acting against males.


Key Terms

Villanelle- a poem in which the first and third lines alternate throughout

La Virgen- the virgin

La Chingada- the raped/brutalized one

La Llorona - the Crying woman


Comments (4)

Jenna Lappi said

at 9:34 am on Apr 14, 2010

Hey guys, I started on the summary and added the first quotation. Feel free to edit anything I've put up. Thanks!

Mike Resler said

at 9:07 am on Apr 15, 2010

accidentally edited the wrong class's notes... -__-

Ashley MacCheyne said

at 12:20 pm on Apr 15, 2010

I added a passage, and I will come back this afternoon and add terms if no one else has. Thank y'all!

Brian Croxall said

at 10:53 am on Apr 23, 2010

This is a good set of notes for the class discussion of Cisneros and Alexie. You touch on many of the things that I saw as being most important for the class discussion, but there were others that I thought you could have put more clearly. For example, your first paragraph of the summary could put Cisneros's use of different cultural characters into terms of code-switching, which draws a parallel to what she's doing to Anzaldua. In the second paragraph, you could have made it more clear as well that Cleofilas ends up escaping the three dominant stereotypes that Mexican women fall into. Moreover, you could put your discussion of the men into terms of their having a particular ideology that they need to escape as well. You more or less say all of these things, but stating them plainly in these terms would be useful for those who are reviewing your notes in preparation for the final.

Your passages are well chosen and since we hadn't really discussed everything about the Alexie poem at this point, it's not surprising that you don't have an excerpt from it.

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