Would you ever fall in love with a married person? Would you carry on that relationship for years and years with this married person? And would you ever go to measured lengths to leave hints of your adultery for the victim of your transgressions to find? This is exactly what Clemencia, a character in Sandra Cisneros’s short story Never Marry A Mexican , does. And she does all of these things seemingly without remorse. Even more so she does it with pride.
But are these the actions of a healthy person? Are these the choices a rational adult would make? And what would cause a person to commit such acts of aggression? The fact that Clemencia is so able to do shows that she is not living a moral life when it comes to mental wellness.
To be fair Clemencia, a full grown adult, is free to determine her own actions. Nothing she does is outright illegal by the laws of government. However it is also fair to say that having relations with married men is an unethical practice to say the least. Still this by itself is not a definite case of mental illness. What makes the case for Clemencia is the full circumstance of her decades long affair.
In the story Clemencia starts off with some sombre advice she received from her mother, “Never marry a Mexican”(Cisneros, 68). This is said by her mother, a Mexican, and it has effects Clemencia’s image of herself. She sees herself as someone who is not worthy of marriage. At least not by an American or someone higher in the social hierarchy. Viciously though it also imprints the idea that she should also never marry a Mexican. This puts her right in the lonely middle, too proud to lower herself and be with a Mexican, and too Mexican to be married to herself. Possibly this makes her feel fated to live her life outside of a marriage.
She goes on to describe how she knows she is guilty. She knows what she is doing is wrong. She even admits it to herself, ” I am guilty of causing pain to other women. I’m vindictive and Cruel” (Cisneros, 89). Even if her victims do not know has transpired she takes pride in her ability to ” kill” a part of them. She claims to take especial joy in sleeping with married men in their homes the night of their children’s birth while their wives push and scream in agony.
It is possible this is a familiar scene to Clemencia, as it parallels the scene in which her father died in a hospital while her mother was out dating a man who would later remarry with her mother.
According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network children’s close relationship with caregivers are crucial to a child’s development, and ” When those relationships are unstable or unpredictable, children learn that they cannot rely on others to help them.” This may be what gives Clemencia a need to be independent or closed off.
The main focus of the story though is not of the main character yearning for married men, but more so the yearning of one. Drew. Clemencia thinks of her long relationship with Drew, who was married the entire time. She recalls what claims is a vital role in the birth of Drew’s son. How Drew did not want to have the child, supposedly she had convinced him, and maybe she did. She wonders if the boy knows this. She claims her role was so important that the boy is hers. To think so much of yourself in the role of creating of child, more so than the child’s mother, is disturbing.
She thinks of the last time she spent with Drew. Sometime after the boy was born, Drew had decided it was for the best that their affair ends. She agrees reluctantly inside, but she doesn’t show this to him. And on the last day she is in his, as he is busy, she goes about the house leaving little candy bears hidden all over where only his wife could find. This is not her way of doing right by the women whom she has been sharing a lover with all these years. No this is another aggression, a despicable way of shoving it in the womans face. Yet another sign of her ill mental health. But deep down she must know she is also a victim, or at least a loser, for she wanted the love of this man but in the end she will not have it. She laments that she knew all along, ” He could never marry me…. never marry a Mexican”(Cisneros,80). Here we see once again the words her mother was always saying, and we can see that in this situation this supposed fact of life is causing her sadness.
But this is not the end of Clemencia’s obsession with Drew and his son. She reveals that years after her and Drew put an end to their fling she initiates one with his boy. Similar to the way she would think of Drew in her mind, as a boy, she is similarly enticed with her new love interest. She is obsessed with him. She wants him to love her so much like she did his father. It makes her feel powerful.
By the end of the story though she is restless. She asks “What is it inside me that makes me crazy at 2 a.m.?”(Cisneros, 82). Where she once took pride in her ability to “kill” others she now questions if she had killed herself in the process. In her restlessness she phones her old lover Drew but hangs up after hearing him answer. She wants comfort but she doesn’t say that, instead she says “I just want to reach out and stroke someone, and say There there, it’s all right, honey. There, there, there.”(Cisneros,83). She is the one need to be told this.
So from all of this we can see that even after all of her victories of stealing ” the best part” from these married men she is still not fulfilled. The feeling of love that she got from these men is not permanent. The tragedy of her fate that came from her mothers mouth, “Never marry a Mexican”. Clemencia has shown she is not interested in making others happy. She admits to causing pain and wanting love. And she does not even herself think she is sane. Indeed in this story she is very good at convincing us that she is in fact “crazy as a tulip”.
Finally we ask, is it healthy? To sleep with married men? Well it may not be the most ethical thing to do but we are all free to do as we please. But in the case of Clemencia it was not healthy at all.
Woman Hollering Creek, Sandra Cisneros
“Effects of Complex Trauma.” | National Child Traumatic Stress Network – Child Trauma Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.