If someone were to ask you, what in American society can pack ten modern football stadiums, what would your response be? Would you be surprised to know that that figure entails the estimated victims of child maltreatment in 2014 alone? Child maltreatment is defined as “all forms of physical and emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, and exploitation that result in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, development or dignity” (World Health Organization). Although statistically, one in every four children you encounter will be victims of maltreatment in the United States, it is often forgone in our society because of the impending culture of silence and denial that comes laced with the trauma. Sandra Cisneros manages to break even more cultural taboos and create a stark contrast between perspective realities of childhood with several of her juvenile characters throughout Woman Hollering Creek”. She specifically challenges controversy and our negated culture of child maltreatment in multifaceted levels with her short story “Salvador Late or Early”.
The excerpt entails the story of a juvenescent boy named Salvador’s daily life. He has lived and experience life and its pain more significantly than his counterparts. His living conditions are modest so he is obligated to assist his mother with the care of his younger brothers and is disputably held responsible for them because of their lack of recourses. The young boy is emotionally neglected and yearns to be cared for. At such a fledging age, he is accountable and reliable; even so he is not memorable. He is often overlooked and embodies loneliness. Salvador is exceedingly timid and has faced several tribulations in his short life. His body entails the “geography of scars” he has succumbed and “his history of hurt” (Cisneros, 10). His wrinkled shirt tells the story of his neglect and forsakenness. He is not emboldened as he very apologetic and easily subordinated. Even so, the character is astute as it is described how he shielded his body from bludgeoning with feathers and rags. He, like many other kids in his situation, is faced with the arduous task of grappling responsibilities that are too complex for him during a very traumatic upbringing that are enlaced with various institutional obstacles.
Salvador’s narrative draws attention to the often overlooked culture of poverty and some of the turbulences that are tied within it. Salvador lives “in the direction where homes are the color of bad weather” (Cisneros 10). We can interpret that text to mean that the young character lives in a region riddled with concentrated poverty because maintenance associations such as HOA’s are enclaves for the wealthy. These programs are normally in place to keep areas prominent and desirable. The lack of similar regulations in low income neighborhoods result in aggregate low-value zones, house poor and inadequate communal resources and become poverty concentration centers. Furthermore, schools and other public community related programs suffer advertently because of the lack of resources that are not readily available or that are not invested into the communities most in need.
A meta-analysis conducted by Robert H. Bradley and Robert F. Corwyn concluded that socio-economic standing affects a child’s development directly. The lack of resources and time from a parental or guardian unit affect a child’s achievements in multiple fields, such as: social, educational, behavioral, and cognitive skills. Although there is not much indication on Salvador’s academic standing, we can presume he is contingent with the study because he is the student “whose name the teacher cannot remember” (Cisneros 10), he is not an outstanding scholar nor is he a proactive member of his school because he “is a boy who is no one’s friend” (Cisneros 11). Since institutions are directly affected by communal economic standing, we are also made aware that he is perhaps not in the most favorable of school districts where he is easily slip through our educational cracks. Institutions with more funding are significantly more preemptive in the disenfranchisement of their troubled peers than their low funded counterparts. The lack of funding surrounding his education, as well as his daily life serve as a barrier impeding the character’s success rate.
Although young, Salvador is entrusted for responsibilities that are far too overwhelming for a child. He is responsible for caring for his younger brothers since is “mama is busy with the business of the baby” (Cisneros 10). He has to wake, dress and feed his siblings every morning and ensure to take them to and from school every day. Additionally, Salvador faces a more tumultuous and challenging childhood because he lies in statistics that devastated destitute communities. Centers for Disease Control and prevention have found that poor families are 14 times more likely to engage in child abuse and 44 times more inclined to neglect their children. Salvador validates these findings as he has had to withstand physical abuse, malnutrition and the responsibility of parenting his younger siblings. His body marks the familiarity of maltreatment with the described scars it holds. The attacks have become so patronizing that he knows how to cushion the physical abuse he faces. He is overcast in his family because he is made to care for his brothers whilst negating the attention a young child needs. The author alludes to the severe impact that these factors have in a Salvador’s life and illustrates the agony it bears on him. He symbolizes a “single guitar of grief” (Cisneros 11) and is too forsaken to know what happiness entails.
Salvador’s current pain is felt through his heart and weights heavy on his chest. Emotions ravel his young body and entrench his being. His’s tiny body is too small to hold or know happiness instead he harbors a single note of sorrow that he is forced to carry with him. Through his abdicated sorrow and pain, he still musters enough commitment to nurture his siblings every day and lives up to his name as a savior for them. Cisneros poetically stated that the pain he personifies is seen through his eyes but they also foretell the tiny glimpse of hope found in Pandora’s box. They palpitate the inevitable metamorphosis that will come and allude to the “rainbow that comes after the storm” that he represents (Cisneros 11).
Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek. London, Bloomsbury, 2004.
“Violence Prevention.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 May 2016, http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childmaltreatment/. Accessed 15 Apr. 2017.
“Child Maltreatment.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs150/en/. Accessed 15 Apr. 2017.