Almost nobody can say they haven’t heard the phrases “you’re just like your mother” or “Like father, Like son”. The two people that create a foundation to the people we grow up to be is our parents. Even as little babies although unable to talk, they are watching, listening, learning everything around them and continue through all phases of life. So when we grow up as adults and developed an idea or trait it would most likely be traced to the environment in the early stages of life. It’s no wonder Clemencia, a women introduced in “Never Marry A Mexican” by Sandra Cisneros, has a great deal of issues with men. Her mother as far as she could remember would repeat to her to never marry a Mexican like she made the mistake of doing with Clemencia’s father. Her mother was so focused in her own despair she has no consideration of what this type of behavior was doing to her daughter’s young mind. Clemencia didn’t just turn into an anti-marriage, cold-hearted, mistress on her own, her mother could take responsibility for the path Clemencia decided to take.
In the very first years of our life we are developing our personality. The influences that are brought on to us help us develop into the person that we become. Our parents are the ones that are in control of what we learn like the Huffington Post article mentions ” This means that your choices – what you say (and don’t say), what you do (and don’t do) – strongly influence who your child becomes. You are a key co-author in the book of his life”(Power of Parental Influ. Dr. Gail Gross). With this being said it makes sense that Clemencia grew up not believing in marriage especially with a Mexican. Her mom would constantly bring up this conversation as Clemencia recalls “Never marry a Mexican, my ma said once and always. She said this because of my father. She said this though she was Mexican too.”(Cisneros 68) Hearing these words over and over while she was growing up had to have a profound effect on how she viewed Mexican men. She was witness to her mother being unhappy and she saying these thing about her own dad. It must have been very confusing to her, the very first example of a relationship was an unhappy one. Her mom was complaining about her choice in marriage to her own daughter, although she might have not meant any harm, this was toxic to her daughter. Clemencia mother should have kept her negative ideas to herself or a therapist but not to her daughter. Not even old enough to date she already has this idea that Mexican men make you unhappy, so it’s best to stay away.
Sometimes events happen in our lives that we can’t control and nobody is to blame, like death of a loved one. Clemencia’s father passed away when she was quite young and this had to be a hard situation to deal with. In this horrible ordeal her mother should have been there for her and her sister, well that’s what you would expect. Not Clemencia’s mother, she was cheating on her husband while he was dying. To make matters worse she took her new lover to live in the home that belonged to her daughters and former husband. This was the life changing situation, you could understand how hurt she is that her mother did this, not to her but to her father. “She would’ve sold us to the devil if she could”(Cisneros 73) she accepted that her mother wasn’t concerned about them but when she learned of the betrayal, that was what she couldn’t forgive. She even goes as far as to say when her father died it was as if her mother had died too. Although, she already had a strained relationship with her mother the fact that she cheated made it easier for her to not miss her. She was ashamed of her mother and she didn’t care to have a relationship with her. A parent dying is by itself a difficult thing to deal with, and what Clemencia’s mother did it’s understandable why she considers her dead.
Clemencia developed trust issues and she had this idea that all men cheat and nobody can ever be faithful, so she only slept with white married men. She rather be the mistress than actually be in a relationship with these men and feels like this it the right thing to do. Witness to her moms cheating has made her feel disconnected with emotions. She doesn’t trust men because her own mother cheated and than sleeping with married men confirms she’s right, she feels she’s actually being smart by staying away from relationships. The married men won’t ask her to get married because they already have a family so she feels like it’s a no lose situation. Her mother was supposed to be the role model of what a relationship is supposed to look like, so she has no example. Like an article in The New York Times says “Because the mother is still most often considered the focus of the family, a child who learns of an affair is in danger of losing confidence in the viability of marriage and family”(Affairs Profound effects). Clemencia has lost trust in men, marriage, and love.”Marriage has failed me, you could say. Not a man exist who hasn’t disappointed me”(Cisneros 69). She mentions she at one point did want to be married but she’s gotten to know men in a different level and thinks that’s no longer a realistic thought.
Clemencia’s mother betrayed her father but in a way she betrayed her too. She hurt her and damaged her view of a loving relationship. Clemencia is using this mistress role as a way of saving herself. Clemencia might look like a hypocrite while talking about the betrayal with her mother but than gloating about being the a mistress herself but here is a women who really doesn’t believe anyone could be faithful. She thinks you are either the cheater or you’re the one being cheated on, that’s it. How do you convince a woman she’s wrong who thinks those are your only options. Her future looks lonely and sad, her entire life seemed lonely and sad. Clemencia was an unfortunate victim of her mother’s selfish choices and might never feel how it is to be in a real, healthy, loving, relationship.
Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek and other stories. “Never Marry A Mexican” Random House Publications, 1991
Brooks, Andree.”HEALTH: Psychology; Experts Find Extramarital Affairs Have a Profound Impact on Children.” The New York Times, 09 March 1989, http://www.nytimes.com/1989/03/09/us/health-psychology-experts-find-extramarital-affairs-have-profound-impact.html
Dr.Gail Gross. “The Power Of Parental Influence In Child Development.” The Huffington Post, 12 August 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-power-of-parental-influence-in-child-development_us_57a6a8b5e4b0c94bd3c9a60a