“Never Marry a Mexican,” in her short story Sandra Cisneros conveys how young Clemencia was strong-armed into concealing illicit behaviors and how she was broken by the horrendous events that unraveled throughout her life. Clemencia tragically lost her beloved “Daddy.” After his death Clemencia was left to suffer at the hands of her mother’s abusive antics. Spiraling out of her control without the conscious awareness, she was condemned to a life of poor decisions. Devastation would ensue and irreparably damage susceptible Clemencia. The emotional abuse that she endured as a young girl would lead to destructive behaviors that would rob her of happiness and adversly impact her life forever. It’s important to understand the imperative role parents play in a child’s emotional wellbeing and the negative implications of emotional abuse and neglect.
Woefully, she was forced to hide her egotistical mother’s adulterous behaviors from her beloved “daddy,” that was helplessly confined to his bed in a cold bitter hospital, dying. Overwhelmed emotionally, and traumatized by the appalling events, this once beaming soul would be subjected to a never-ending cycle of abuse. A large emotional void grew and festered inside poor unfortunate Clemencia. “After her Daddy died, it was like they didn’t matter” (Cisneros 73). Wretchedly, she was powerless to overcome the destructive unconscious thoughts and behaviors that lead to an unsatisfying yet remorseless life.
Without the conscious awareness of how her past experiences were driving her to continually make bad life decisions Clemencia was doomed to a life of loneliness. Lacking insight, only compounded her problems, her vision of happiness and fulfilment was simply an illusion. Her sexual promiscuity was exacerbated by her powerless inability to deal with her implicit memories of her mother’s emotional abuse and adulterous activities. Sadly, she grew up to become what she despised most, her mother, “…that would’ve sold her to the devil if she could” (Cisneros 73).
“Never marry a Mexican, my ma said once and always” (Cisneros 109). Clemencia’s mother fostered a destructive self-image and an unconscious disinclination for marriage and a deep underlying prejudice against her cultural identity. This drove Clemencia’s desire for short sexual self-mutilation that lead to her promiscuity and fleeced her of her capacity to find contentment. “Daddy, don’t. Not yet, not yet, not yet. And how I couldn’t hold myself up, I couldn’t hold myself up” (Cisneros 74). Her father’s death further eroded any chance of emotional balance or belonging. “Specifically, women express greater acceptance of – and greater willingness to engage in – casual sexual relationships after describing their father’s absence” (Hill, Leyva and DelPriore). Her father was held above reproach, in her eyes, “he was a fanfaron” (Cisneros 70). From her own words, and inferred by her referencing her father as “daddy,” it signifies the very intimate relationship that the two shared. His death tore at her soul and crushed any hope for emotional normalcy. According to Dr. Croft, “Women become promiscuous pursuing multiple, meaningless sexual encounters, trying to replace a lost object or an unexplainable void inside” (Croft).
Clemencia’s mother’s poor choice in words and characterless decisions weighed heavily on poor Clemencia’s heart. She loudly proclaimed to never be like her mother. Her emotional distress was further impacted as her mother attacked her beloved father’s identity as a Mexican. Clemencia is the victim of the barrage of personal attacks by the person entrusted to nurture and protect her. This leaves an unimaginable and tremendous pain that leaves Clemencia feeling empty.
“Like as if I never had a mother” (Cisneros 73). Clemencia’s mother wasted no time in replacing her husband, who she deeply begrudged. Clemencia helplessly watched her mother carelessly obliterate her “Daddy’s” legacy as Clemencia’s mother shacked up with her adulterer, moving him into the family’s home. “After her Daddy died, it was like she didn’t matter” (Cisneros 73). Clemencia’s fragile identity, her sense of self already damaged by an emotionally abusive mother was shattered as she was sidelined and forgotten. She was now an orphan, emotionally unprepared and forced to face the world with out any guidance.
Devastated and unable to control the emotional decisions of her mothers bad decisions she falls into the same patterns that appalled her. “I’ve been an accomplice, committed premeditated crimes. I’m guilty of having caused deliberate pain to other women. I’m vindictive and cruel, and capable of anything” (Cisneros 68). Broken, she’s unable to find real emotional connections. Relationships never progress past light and casually sexual. Clemencia builds an emotionally addictive taste for sex to fill her void left by the death of her father and the constant emotional abuse and neglect of her mother. Clemencia utilizes her sexual escapades as a means of self mutilation, “Her sexual promiscuity is violence against herself” (Capretto). Like her mother, she grows up to be egotistical and careless.
She became entangled in a particular affair that spanned years. She became bitter and envious of her lover’s wife, disenfranchised with the uncontrollable situation. The disillusioned dreams she held continued to crumble and she became enraged and jealous. Even though she contemplated a legitimate relationship, she’s emotionally unequipped and incapable of maintaining normal relationships. She gravitates towards her self destructive behaviors, “It’s always given me a bit of crazy joy to be able to kill those women like that, without their knowing it” (Cisneros 76). It brings her short-lived satisfaction to sabotage her affairs. Clemncia attempted to cause emotional anguish to lover’s innocent wife by leaving little clues about their affair where only his wife would find them. She never found out about the affair. Yet spiteful Clemencia who, “Didn’t give a damn about that woman” (Cisneros 76), continued down a destructive path as she gloated about their affair, while his wife was in labor giving birth to their son, “I lay in his mothers bed making love to you” (Cisneros 75).
Clemencia was a once glowing adolescent that became irreparably marred at the hands of her emotionally abusive mother. This impressionable adolescent became traumatized by the appalling events forced on her, and overwhelmed by the tragic death of her “Daddy.” She became lost and unable to deal with the emotional void that festered inside. Her destructive unconscious thoughts obstructed her ability to make good decisions and lead to her sexual promiscuity.
It’s important for our culture to acknowledge the essential role parents play in a child’s emotional wellbeing. Unfortunately, Clemencia was powerless against the negative implicit memories formed from her mother’s abuse. Regardless of how her life progressed, without therapeutic intervention she was doomed. Clemencia was intentionally sabotaging her relationships for a short euphoric sexual thrill. When the feeling was gone, she’d just look for her next sexual escapade. With the right intervention, over time I’m sure that her shortcomings could have been greatly mitigated. The entire situation was preventable. Absente parenting is incredibly destructive and its effects are wide, not only for the individual but for society at large. It’s important that parents are conscious of their behaviors and actions to ensure that children are well equipped to deal with life. Dealing with unfortunate circumstances such as the death of a parent, its vital that the surviving partner overcompensates to lessen the impact of the emotion stress on the child. If her mother acted altruistically, you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
Capretto, Lisa. Dr. Steve Perry. Promiscuity Is a Form of Self Multilation for Daddyless Daughters, Huffington Post, Huffingtonpost.com, March, 10 2014
Cisneros, Sandra., Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. Random House, Inc., New York, 1992.
Crof, Harry Dr. Psychological Causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction, Helathy Place, healthyplace.com, April 2016
Hill, Sarah. Leyva, Randi. DelPriore, Danielle. Absent Fathers and Sexual Strategies, The Psychologist, thepsychologist.bps.org.uk, June 2016, Vol.29 (pp.436-439)