Sandra Cisneros creates a new ending for the Mexican folk tale La Llorona in her story “Woman Hollering Creek”. Cisneros is a Latina woman who gave her own take on the folk tale La Llorona. She uses her Latina background to incorporate Spanish words that have subtle meanings connecting her story “Woman Hollering Creek” to La Llorona. Her version of the Mexican myth empowers women to be independent and find their happiness. She makes it okay for women to leave a man and take care of their family on their own. The character Cleofilas chooses to leave a life of abuse and sorrow behind when she crosses La Gritona with Felice rewriting her story so she doesn’t end up like La Llorona.
Legend has it that Maria was said to be the most beautiful girl in the world and due to her beauty, she believed she was better than everyone else. The young men in her town weren’t good enough until one day a young ranchero showed up to town. She played tricks to win his affection and eventually they got married and had two children. Maria’s husband got restless and missed the wild life of the prairies. He would be gone for months at a time and when he would come visit the children he wouldn’t say a word to Maria. She started to resent her children so she threw them in the lake. When she realized what she did she too threw herself in the river and died. “On many a dark night, they saw her walk the river bank and cry for her children. And so, they no longer spoke of her as Maria. They called her La Llorona, the weeping woman.” (Hayes) Many Hispanic parents tell their children the story of La Llorona to keep them in their beds at night. Cisneros took this old myth and made it into a story that will empower women to lead a happier life.
In the story Cleofilas leaves her family behind when she marries Juan Pedro and moves to San Antonio. Cleofilas story is similar to the story of La Llorona in almost every way besides the ending. When Cleofilas crosses the bridge with her husband she says, “La Gritona. Such a funny name for such a lovely arroyo.” (page 46) Cisneros connects the story to La Llorona by naming the river La Gritona which means hollering woman. Cisneros illustrates that the only friends Cleofilas has are Dolores and Soledad which translates to pain and loneliness. She imagined she would have a love full of passion like in the telenovelas she would watch. Her relationship with Juan Pedro wasn’t full of passion though, he abused her and made her feel alone. Everything she had imagined love would be changed. “Is it La Llorona, the weeping woman? La Llorona, who drowned her own children. Perhaps La Llorona is the one they named the creek after, she thinks, remembering all the stories she learned as a child. La Llorona calling to her.” (page 51) Cleofilas is alone all she has is her children and her sad neighbors. As she sits by the creek with her son she wonders if the quiet is what could drive a woman to darkness.
Cleofilas feels like she can’t leave Juan Pedro and go back home to her father because what would the town think of a woman “coming home like that with one baby on her hip and one in the oven. Where’s your husband.” (page 50) She doesn’t want to be a disgrace to her family because in her culture the women aren’t independent they don’t leave their husbands and raise the children on their own. When Cleofilas decides to leave her husband the woman who helps her leave is Felice. Cisneros specifically chose the character’s name to be Felice because it translates to happiness. Felice was like no woman Cleofilas had ever met, she was beautiful and confident in herself without a husband the same way La Llorona was before she got married. She was everything Cleofilas wanted to be. She was confident and independent, she didn’t need a man to make her happy or pay for her needs. Felice drove a truck of all cars and swore which was something new to Cleofilas since ladies aren’t supposed to use such foul language. As Felice and Cleofilas cross the bridge Felice “opened her mouth and let out a yell as loud as any mariachi.” (page 55) Felice hollering as they cross the bridge symbolizes Cleofilas changing her fate and not winding up like La Llorona. She chooses to leave a life that isn’t bringing her happiness and go back to a place that makes her feel safe and loved. Cleofilas moves back home to live with her father and brothers to raise her children. She left her abusive husband and found happiness in her life once more. She told her father and brothers about Felice yelling as they crossed the bridge and she realized she was laughing. Cleofilas had found happiness at last being away from Juan Pedro and back home with her family where she belonged.
If Maria had a friend she might not have made the decision to throw her children in the creek and would have started a new life for herself like Cleofilas did. Woman Hollering Creek gave the story of La Llorona a happy ending. Cleofilas chooses to leave a life of abuse and sorrow behind when she crosses La Gritona with Felice rewriting her own life so she doesn’t end up like La Llorona. Sandra Cisneros changed the story of La Llorona in a way that empowers women who are in abusive relationships to leave and find happiness somewhere else. Cisneros also makes it okay for women to be independent and not need a man to pay for their livelihood or bring happiness to their lives.
Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Hayes, Joe. “La Llorona- A Hispanic Legend.” LA LLORONA – A HISPANIC LEGEND. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.