10 July 2019
The Irony of Clemencia’s Story
In the short story, “Never Marry a Mexican”, by Sandra Cisneros, we are introduced to Clemencia, a woman who tells us her love and life story through past and present experiences. She isn’t living the life she’s always dreamed of, with a husband who loves and cares for her. This makes her feel helpless and that she will never marry a man and it shapes her mentality and her life aspirations. Clemencia starts off by expressing her anger and resentment for her mother, who was an adulterer. She retells many details from her life that she uses to victimize herself and gain some type of sympathy from others and more importantly, from herself. Although, it is revealed that she is indeed doing things just as bad or the same as what she said she hated her mother for. Clemencia isn’t able to step back and notice she is what she hates and is doing many things that others have done to her that she did not like. As she retells her story, many key pieces that she makes important, show irony and reveal her true colors.
Clemencia had lived with her mother, father, and siblings during her childhood. Until, her father became ill and was soon dying quickly and in the hospital. During these heartbreaking weeks, Clemencia’s mother was off having an affair with a white man named Owen and was nowhere to be found while her husband was dying. Clemencia was so angry and shocked by her mother’s actions that she even refused to stand next to her, while her father passed away. After Clemencia’s father died, her mother quickly married Owen and moved him and his kids into her family’s house. This made Clemencia despise of her mother and think of her as nothing but an adulterer, who didn’t care one bit about her father’s death; and now her own children. Her mother seemed to disconnect herself from her previous life, and didn’t pay very much attention to or care for her real family. Clemencia never forgives her mother for what she has done or for how much she’s ruined her and her sibling’s life.
When Clemencia was a little older, she fell in love with a married man, Drew, who was her teacher at the time. She ends up living her life as this man’s mistress for many years, while his wife, Megan, lives like she has no clue that it’s happening. It is ironic that she hates her mother for sleeping with a man while she’s married, but in the future sleeps with a man who has a wife and family of his own. Research has shown that people turn into what they focus on, “Your mind is a very powerful thing… and you become what you think about” (Peterson). She expressed her hatred for her mother because she has ruined her family, but later on in life she ruins another family for her own pleasure. The tables have turned and Clemencia takes no responsibility for her actions. She thinks she has done nothing wrong, and wants to put the blame on her mother who did the same thing; ruined a family for her own satisfaction. She may think she is doing nothing wrong, because she isn’t married herself and isn’t being an adulterer. But, she is the one helping the man be one and is tearing a family apart to fulfil her wants and needs. Clemencia is oblivious to the wrong she’s doing and thinks she’s taking care of this married man. She says, “I just want to reach out and stroke someone, and say There, there, it’s all right, honey” (Cisneros 83). Clemencia has no thought or care for Megan as she sleeps with her husband for years and years. She only thinks about herself and what she wants from Drew, which shows as she says, “I haven’t stopped dreaming you. Did you know that? Do you think it’s strange? I never tell, though. I keep it to myself like I do all the thoughts I think of you” (Cisneros 78). You can tell by the way she speaks about him, like there’s not a care in the world about anyone else, especially his wife. But, she can hate her mother for doing exactly as she’s doing.
As I mentioned before, Clemencia met Drew when she was his student, at around the age of 18. He was obviously intrigued by her and wanted her for his own. At the same time, Clemencia was interested as well and at a young age, began sleeping with him. In my opinion, she was in a way taken advantage of because of her age. At 18, she could have been easily manipulated into thinking this older man, who was her teacher, could be trusted and that he would take care of her. She “fell in love” with Drew and had a sexual relationship with him for several years. Until Megan, Drew’s wife, had a baby boy and the story becomes ironic. Clemencia continued to live with Drew and now his son, sporadically, when Megan was not there. She watches the boy grow up, explaining how she took care of him sometimes and how she thought of him, “These mornings, I fix coffee for me, milk for the boy. I think of that woman, and I can’t see a trace of my lover in this boy, as if she conceived him by immaculate conception” (Cisneros 82). She still had absolutely no respect for Megan, the child’s mother and Drew’s wife, and especially not for herself. Clemencia then explains how she sleeps with the son as well, in order to, “make the boy love [her] the way [she] love[s] his father” (Cisneros 82). The irony of this situation ties back to how she brings up her mother for being a hussy and a terrible person, but turns out to be one herself and not care for one second how wrong it is. It is also ironic how she was taken advantage of in her past by Drew, and now she took advantage of his son. Research has proved that it is very common for someone who has been abused, to abuse someone else, “[The abused] have difficulty with intimacy, security, trust, and commitment in [their] relationships. Lacking clearly defined personal limits and boundaries, [they] become enmeshed in [their] needs and emotions” (Characteristics of Emotionally Abused People).
In the beginning of the short story, Clemencia’s mother tells her that she should never marry a mexican because they’ll never be able to give her the type of family support and love that she wants. “She said this because of my father”(Cisneros 68), says Clemencia. She says this because her father was born in Mexico, which made him different than her and her mother, who were mexican too, but born in America. Her mother made it seem as though it was a bad thing to be full Mexican and meant that you couldn’t be faithful or provide true love and support for a family. In the future, when Clemencia is having an affair with Drew, she ends up viewing herself the same way her mother saw her father; a mexican. She tells herself that she’ll never be good enough for a man who could provide her with everything she wanted. Which she expresses by saying, “Besides, he could never marry me. You didn’t think…? Never marry a Mexican. Never marry a Mexican… No, of course not”(Cisneros 80). It’s ironic how she is told from childhood to never marry a Mexican and tells herself that she never will, and in the end, she becomes the “mexican” that no one should marry.
Clemencia’s story of love and life starts off sweet and ends ironically. She carried so much hatred for her mother her whole life for one reason, and ends up doing what the reason was herself. She let someone take advantage of her, but in the future does the same action to an innocent boy. And she even ends up being what she never wanted to be apart of, a “Mexican”, who couldn’t provide love and support for a real family. She doesn’t think for a second that she’s the bad guy, and wants to blame everyone else in her story. But ironically, she becomes exactly what she hated; a lying, adulterer “Mexican”.
Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. New York, Vintage, 1991.
Peterson, Deb. “The Secret Power of Your Mind to Determine Your Future.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 3 July 2019, http://www.thoughtco.com/you-are-what-you-think-31688.
Characteristics of Emotionally Abused People, http://www.eqi.org/signs_of_emotionally_abused_people.htm.