The Arrogance of Ignorance
Never Marry a Mexican by Sandra Cisneros is a short story about a woman named Clemencia who undergoes the burden of living in traumatic environments throughout the course of her life. According to the article “Negative Childhood Experiences and Mental Health”, explains that the neurological development of children who’ve experienced trauma in their formative years of life are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, disassociation, revictimization, personality disorders, obsession and sexual abuse (read et al). With this understanding of trauma, an analysis of Clemencia’s life will allow the audience to view the moments in which her mind reached its breaking point, thus causing her to become the unique individual she is.
The first instance of real trauma in Clemencia’s life was the instant she found herself in the hospital with her father, he was sick and dying with only his daughters by his side while his wife was out with her lover creating a new life in the wake of her old one. Unintentionally the mother had created malice between her and her youngest daughter. Resulting in Clemencia’s aversion to marriage and all the affections given in the name of love, she would never allow herself to be made a fool. As her father died the mother did not hesitate to move her new lover and his family into their father’s home and began her new life. Unable to conform to her new family, the toll of emotional abandonment by her mother allowed Clemencia to disassociate from her family and regress into her mind as it was her safe place. To maintain such hate towards her mother and her Caucasian lover Owen lambert, Clemencia began building her resentment towards the white race as they destroyed her family and all she held dear. Interestingly, the book “Psychological Trauma” states that, “Psychological development in secure surroundings allows a person to build up a repertoire of coping behaviors and references to conquered stressful situations that serves as guides to subsequent coping.” (Bessel et al, 11). Logically thinking, the occurrence of Owen being Caucasian was a random opportunity for her to reflect her hate towards his ethnicity as an entirety verses a personal vendetta towards Owen and her mother’s life choices.
To justify all malicious acts, Clemencia persuades herself into believing the excuse “My mother did this to me” (Cisneros,68) was an adequate answer as to why she is the way she is. Clemencia enjoys her promiscuous life she has taught herself to live, she knowingly inflicts pain upon women, all to embrace the impowering emotion she is seeking to mask the pain once caused as a child. Interestingly, Clemencia is demonstrating a trait of personality disorder, causing her to become a narcissistic menace. According to Sam Vaknin, the author of “Malignant Selflove: Narcissism revisited” states that, “narcissism is a pattern of traits that signifies infatuation and obsession for one’s self, followed by the egotistical dominance and ambition derived by a lack of self-esteem.” With her need to be in complete control, Clemencia will stop at nothing to satisfy her need to destroy those around her, she needs to see someone hurt more than herself to remain sane and functioning. To the sane minded person such tactics seem bewildering, to those of like mind would understand that the power in which you lack you must forcefully show others to be seen as the dominant, even though they are far more feeble than those around them.
At the age of seventeen, Clemencia meets her lover Drew. Drew is an older man who took advantage of Clemencia’s vulnerability, she names him her teacher (Cisneros, 76). Not only does drew teacher her life experiences, he teaches her sexually as well. As Clemencia is impressionable, she is coaxed into believing this man loves her and she him. Resulting in her creating an unhealthy obsession in their relationship, unknowing to her she was being sexually abused by a master manipulator. Completely blinded and ingulfed in her lover she stops at nothing to believe she held complete power and he would bend for her, disassociated with reality, unwilling to accept she had no control over this man, she deluded herself into believing she gave permission for Drew and his wife to give birth to their son. As her mental estate would come and go Clemencia would allow the audience to experience her deep seeded self-hatred she restlessly tried to hide. “Your eyes are beautiful, you said. You said they were the darkest eyes you’d ever seen and kissed each one as if they were capable of miracles. After you left, I wanted to scoop them out with a spoon, place them on a plate under the blue blue skies, for food for the blackbirds.” (Cisneros, 75). Knowing her relationship was one based on deceit, allowing herself to never receive the love she so desperately sought, fearing any form of affection. Because she could not control her heart if she were to fall for a man, she demonstrates how she does not deserve such love. All the manipulation and power she held, she was no opponent for her own fears and thoughts. Through the years, Clemencia aged and Drew grew less interested, aiming her vindictive personality at her former lover Drew, she was now going to use revictimization on Drew’s son.
Because Clemencia had an established obsession with her former lover drew, she allowed herself access to his family. Beginning her process of grooming his son into the student she once was. “I was your father’s student, yes just like you are mine now. Your father painted and painted me […] he took me under his wing and in his bed. This man, this teacher, your father. I was honored he had done me the favor. I was that young.” (Cisneros, 76). The acknowledgment that she was in fact taken advantage of did not faulter her to end the behavioral pattern where it began, instead she forcefully used it to gain control of another young formidable child. Clemencia is now demonstrating multiple symptoms of schizophrenia, her mental breaking point. She demonstrates her method of grooming the boy, she uses the same ways his father used on her. Unadulterated and raw, Clemencia feels the need to unfold to her new lover all the unjust acts she has placed upon his family, not to clear her conscience but rather to understand the boy’s loyalty to her as she once was to his father. In success, she had won the sons loyalty and he drew himself unknowingly deeper into her web of deceit.
As Clemencia expresses her hate towards her mother, she unknowingly held the same behavioral pattern her mother did, groomed at the age of seventeen, her mother met her husband (Clemencia’s father). At the age of seventeen, Clemencia met her groomer, Drew and now she consciously follows said pattern placing the son of drew at the traumatic next in line slot. All forms of trauma and behavioral traits displayed by the character Clemencia placed her as the perfect candidate for schizophrenia, she was delusional, disassociated with reality, obsessed, held personality disorders, and used revictimization and sexual abuse to rationalize unjust actions inflicted upon herself and the innocent bystanders. Clemencia, viewed as a ruthless, cruel, vindictive adulterer would be written off as such in the time the story was written. In the current day in age, Clemencia could have sought a mental health facility and corrected such damage avoiding the chain of trauma inflicted upon all involved with her and or around her. The severity of mental health is often disregarded, summed up to poor behavior based on a lack of judgment rather than taken at face value and evaluated. The story never marry a Mexican was never intended for people to never marry Mexicans; it was about her. Do not marry her because she was unworthy; a plea for help.
- “Psychological Trauma.” Google Books, Google, https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Dp2gi8t8zLEC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=long+term+effects+of+psychological+trauma&ots=l0Lj_uRWfe&sig=l62hSRVo02NBj9e8f3Be9tju2Yw#v=onepage&q=long term effects of psychological trauma&f=false.
- “Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited – Sam Vaknin – Google Books.” Google Books. Web. <http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Rau68YbcoDEC&oi=fnd&pg=PA8&dq=obsessive+narcissism+sexual+relationships&ots=MmPkuctEH7&sig=qrIwqV9eBChwTKpHzboGeaHGdNI#v=onepage&q=obsessive%20narcissism%20sexual%20relationships&f=fals
- Cisneros, Sandra. Women Hollering Creek: and Other Stories. Vintage Books, 1992.
- Read, John, and Richard P. Bentall. “Negative Childhood Experiences and Mental Health: Theoretical, Clinical and Primary Prevention Implications.” British Journal of Psychiatry 200.2 (2012): 89-91. Print.
- Chamaa, Rebecca. “This Is What It’s Like to Live With Paranoid Schizophrenia.” Glamour, Glamour, 16 Sept. 2019, https://www.glamour.com/story/this-is-what-its-like-to-live-with-paranoid-schizophrenia.