Does the upbringing in families affect the person you become when you’re older? Does the way you saw your parents when you were a child affect the things you do when you’re an adult? Or is it the way a marriage is held that is the common reason for affairs. In Sandra Cisneros’ short story Never Marry a Mexican, two different families are brought into view. One family composed of a mother, a father, and two daughters. The other family composed of a mother, a father, and a son. Both families show turmoil in the marriages. Is that the reason for this love rectangle or does the way all of them were raised have anything to do with the way they are now?
The story begins with Clemencia’s family. She tells her story about the time her mother told her never to marry a Mexican and why, she said it was because of her father. The mother married young to a Mexican man, Clemencia’s father. Clemencia explains how her mother would say she went through a lot putting up with a Mexican family and always hearing how her husband “married down” because she was from el otro lado, “the other side.” Clemencia goes on to tell the story of how her father became ill and hospitalized and her mother starts an affair with another man from work, Owen Lambert. Clemencia states that the one thing she can’t forget, is her mother being with Owen even while her father was in the hospital dying. Once Clemencia grows up she decides she’s never getting married. She says it’s “not because I couldn’t, but because I’m too romantic for marriage” (Cisneros 69). She says she’ll never marry because she’s known men too intimately, she’s witnessed their infidelities, and she’s helped them with it. Even though she witnessed her mother having an affair while her father was dying and she hated her mother for it she herself started having affairs with married men. She says, “I’m guilty of having caused deliberate pain to other women. I’m vindictive and cruel, and I’m capable of anything” (Cisneros 68). She knows what she’s doing, she knows she causes these women pain the same way her mother caused her pain having to sit by and watch her mother hurt her father, and it’s like she enjoys hurting these women, their marriages. Does Clemencia’s childhood of watching her mother cheat on her father have anything to do with the affairs she has with married men? Emily Hughes says yes. “You may not know it, but your day-to-day behavior, from the way you drive to the tone of your voice, is shaping the way your child will act for the rest of their life. Psychologist refer to this as the influence of parent socialization, the way children learn behavior and skills necessary to interact in their everyday lives. Parents influence their child’s social skills directly, indirectly and through management of their child’s activities.- They also influence them unintentionally through their own daily actions, such as conversing with other adults while their child is present (Hughes). Now, they don’t say anything on if seeing your parent have an affair will have any affect on you having an affair as an adult but they do say that your actions affect your child 100%. Your child looks up to you and follows your actions. So maybe Clemencia grew up watching her mother’s actions and became prone to believing not that it was the right thing to do but that it was her only other solution instead of marriage.
Drew, the man Clemencia had a long drawn out affair with. He was the man that when he called Clemencia beautiful, she truly felt it. In a way, Clemencia’s mother and Drew are similar. Clemencia’s mother had an affair while Clemencia’s father was dying in the hospital. On the night Drew’s wife Megan was in the hospital laboring their baby he was home, in bed sleeping with Clemencia. So you have to wonder, did Drew grow up with the same parental issues as Clemencia? Did he watch one of his parents cheat on the other and that’s why he’s cheating on his wife now? Or was his marriage the reason he was having an affair. There’s nothing in the story that says anything about Drew’s past but there is a lot of talk about his marriage with Megan and how it almost seems as if she knows about Clemencia or has an idea about her but doesn’t care to bring it up. While talking to Drew’s son one night Clemencia looks back on a time when she was having an affair with Drew and she had to interact with Megan. She says, “Once, drunk on margaritas, I telephoned your father at four in the morning, woke the bitch up. Hello, she chirped. I want to talk to Drew. Just a moment, she said in her most polite drawing-room English. Just a moment. I laughed about that for weeks. What a stupid ass to pass the phone over to the lug asleep beside her. Excuse me, honey, it’s for you. When Drew mumbled hello I was laughing so hard I could hardly talk. Drew? That dumb bitch of a wife of yours, I said, and that’s all I could manage. That stupid stupid stupid. No Mexican woman would react like that. Excuse me, honey. It cracked me up” (Cisneros 77). In a way, Clemencia was right. What women is woken up at four in the morning by another woman calling for her husband and isn’t curious about it? Maybe Drew cheats because it’s just too easy for him to do it. Megan never questions him or gets suspicious even after the 4am phone call so Drew continued the affair because he figured he would never get caught anyway.
Drew’s son, Clemencia’s sort of revenge on Drew for ending their affair. After Drew finally ended the affair Clemencia felt betrayed and upset. Drew was truly a man she loved but his marriage and her loath for marriage kept them from really being together. She explains how he looks like his mother and how she looks for signs in him that look like Drew. Clemencia says, “He’s got the same kind of skin, the boy. All the blue veins pale and clear just like his mama. Skin like roses in December. Pretty boy. Little clone. Little cells split into you and you and you. Tell me, baby, which part of you is your mother. I try to imagine her lips, her jaw, her long long legs that wrap themselves around this father who took me to his bed” (Cisneros 77). She was so in love with Drew that even though she is now with his son as a form of payback she still looks for Drew in his son, maybe to feel something familiar with him. Clemencia explains she can’t see even a trace of “her lover” Drew, in him and only his mother. She says, “I sleep with this boy, their son. To make the boy love me the way I love his father. To make him want me, hunger, twist in his sleep, as if he swallowed glass.- I can tell from the way he looks at me, I have him in my power”(Cisneros 82). But why is the son ok with being with such an older woman? Did the affair his father was having with another woman when he was a boy affect who he is now and the things he does? Like Clemencia, did growing up in a broken family make him see love and women differently? There’s no saying why he really did this or if he even knew about his father’s affair but Clemencia tells him all about her and his father and yet he still doesn’t run. Maybe seeing slight changes in the way Drew treated Megan affected the son, maybe once he knew about Clemencia and his father, being with Clemencia was his form of revenge too.
Sandra Cisneros’ short story Never Marry a Mexican, is a cruel tale of a long line of cheaters. Some say they hate Clemencia some say they hate Drew but was it really their fault? Was the way they were raised or the way Drew’s marriage was have anything to do with why they feel the need to cheat? Did Drew’s son grow up watching his father have an affair and is caught up in his own mixed up love life now because of it? Articles say the way a child is brought up has everything to do with the way they are the rest of their life. People say the way a marriage is affects if their is an affair or not. But the one thing people should always remember is cheating should never be ok no matter what excuse you have.
Cisneros, Sandra. Women Hollering Creek: and Other Stories. New York , Vintage Books, 1992.
Hughes, Emily. How do you Affect Your Child?, https://my.vanderbilt.edu/developmentalpsychologyblog/2014/04/how-do-you-affect-your-child/.