The story of ‘Never Marry A Mexican’ tends to stir negative emotions within its readers. Clemencia is a promiscuous miscreant of religion with irascible tendencies. At one point she inundates Megan, the wife of the man she is having an affair with, by placing gummy bears in various places around the house, in places that only the wife would look (Cisneros 81). On their own, these actions are simply heinous conductors that explain her distaste of Megan, which can be further expanded upon with Clemencia’s vitriolic ad hominems. However, if one enters into the trenches of the story, we enter the mind of the author, digging ourselves into the dirt, or roots, of the story.
The constant rankle within Clemencia shows her torment. While the stories title itself serves as a placard, for the underlying racism, its racism is wrapped within the story, like the delicious guacamole hidden inside a burrito. By saying “if he had married a white woman from el otro lado, that would’ve been different” and following it up with “that would’ve been marrying up, even if the white girl was poor”, shows a racially based division (Cisneros 69). For Clemencia, marrying a Mexican would have been beneath her, even though she was one herself; Clemencia exemplifies the situation of racial pairing by having an affair with a white man named Drew. However, she was not the only one in the story that desired a white male: her mother married a white man. Unlike her mother though, Clemencia learned, and understood, that Drew would not marry her because that would be marrying down.
Anyone can understand the meaning of the title and the main theme; the racial divide is easily explained with many examples showing how it goes both ways between Whites and Mexicans; like oxygen, the theme is easy for humans to derive. Similar to our atmosphere, other elements are more opaque; unraveling the other literary devices will be more difficult because of their ambiguity. Clemencia is by no means a demure woman, in fact, she is more of a virago than anything else. Irregardless, her vivacious personality is almost certainly a distraction to the core of ‘Never Marry A Mexican’s’ delicious Apple. What other purpose does knowing that Clemencia “had their husbands when they were anchored in blue hospital rooms” serve (Cisneros 77)? When you think about it, these statements only serve to cause confirmation bias, making the racists more visible when they comment on her story.
In retrospect, the author’s usage of crude actions can be defined as an Alienation effect, which “involves the use of techniques designed to distance the audience from emotional involvement in the play through jolting reminders of the artificiality of the theatrical performance” (“Alienation Effect”). It is an adequate assumption of the author’s intention; the author wanted to have the readers infer simple solutions to detract from the actions themselves and make the racial divide more pertinent and prominent. For the most part this works but its effect becomes limited by her sophisticated writing; most readers are left remembering the gummy bear portion.
Recognizing the issue, the author remedied the situation by planting other literary seeds. By tipping a watering can over the seeds, they begin to flourish and show themselves. Letting go of one’s obdurate tendency to disregard compassion for Clemencia allows one to look for the potential of other literary techniques. Analyzing the names Clemencia and Drew would be an avenue to another boulevard of literary techniques. In this naming scheme technique, Clemencia and Drew have a touch of allegory to them.
In literacy, the appellations Clemencia and Drew would be called charactonym’s. In the book “Satire: Spirit and Art”, written by George Austin Test, it is explained that “the most widely used kind of charactonym involves personality names” (Test 139). Applying that theory to this short story, shows that the roots of Clemencia are in the word clemency, which is synonymous with mercy. While the allegory of the name Drew is more widely apparent, serving to placard him directly with art. Drew is just a “smudge of paint” she “chose to birth on canvas” (Cisneros 75). While the mercy she shows is that she could blow him to kingdom come but chooses not to.
There are many techniques littered throughout the short story that it’s like a modern freeway, littered with themes on the outskirts of the main highway. Step out of one’s vehicle, inspect the shoulder, and the literary techniques become transparent; if one can read the story without querulous cries of racism, one can also dive into the themes of love. While Clemencia isn’t the ideal mother or partner, her tolerance during her stages of atrophy is admirable; watching the person you love is not painless and taking care of their child, while not being their mother, is punishingly difficult. However, her love for her partner and his child are scarcely found in society.
It takes a unique personality to cope with such complexities and an even more complex author to create them in the first place. Yet, the question still lingers: why would someone write such a dastardly, but compassionate, character like Clemencia? The perceivable reasons behind writing such a personality are, mainly, emotional appeal. In literacy, this would be associated with the pathos. With “the ability to tap into audience’s emotions”, an author can more easily connect with the readers, creating a better nexus between the two (“Persuasive power”). Quite possibly, pathos is the easiest method for a writer and reader to arrive at the same literary airport of understanding, despite being on separate airliners.
The story of ‘Never Marry A Mexican’ is not facile by any means, in fact, it can be elusive at times. In order to understand the many literary techniques, one must ponder heavily on each portion of the story, like looking for leakage in a roof during a hurricane. Everything from paradigms to names can be a literary technique. Author’s will even add red herrings or a non-sequitur to deter the readers from inferring the true meaning of their story. This is the case of ‘Never Marry A Mexican’ and it is quite unfortunate that multitudes of readers have glossed over its literary potency.
There needs to be a more positive outlook on the story of ‘Never Marry A Mexican’; it’s too commonly blanketed by assumptions or overlooked because of the atrocities committed by Clemencia. If readers would just dismiss their judgments, they would find that all the coal in the story can be compacted into a diamond. Each word dangles, waiting to be transformed into beautiful allegory. You just have to focus your efforts, harness the untamed Clemencia, and realize that ‘Never Marry A Mexican’ is an intricate and well-written story, filled with spectacular literary techniques.
“Alienation effect.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 20 July 1998, http://www.britannica.com/art/alienation-effect .
Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek and other stories. 1st ed., New York, NY, Vintage Contemporaries, 1992.
“Persuasive power: The Importance of Ethos, Pathos and Logos.” Communication & Assessment Learning Lab, 8 Oct. 2013, comm.lab.asu.edu/persuasive-power-the- importance-of-ethos-pathos-and-logos/.
Test, George A. Satire: Spirit and Art. University Press of Florida, 1991.