Woman Hollering Creek

Cisneros, Sandra

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Brown, Kate
  • Date of entry: Feb-17-1997
  • Last revised: Dec-11-2006


There are many crossings in this bittersweet short story about Cleofilas. First, as a young woman, she leaves her dusty little town in Mexico with a new husband she hardly knows to cross north to Texas, "en el otro lado--on the other side." Filled with images of fictional passions from telenovas--soap operas--Cleofilas can hardly admit it to herself, let alone to anyone else, when her dreams of romance and domestic happiness sour in the face of poverty, alcoholism, and abuse. She remains trapped by shame, disbelief, and the limitations of women's traditional roles in a hovel on the banks of La Gritona--Woman Hollering Creek.

Finally, a health care worker notices Cleofilas's bruises during a prenatal visit and offers to help her escape. The clinician arranges for her friend to drive Cleofilas to the bus home to Mexico. Crossing the bridge over the Woman Hollering Creek, which has swollen with Spring rains, Cleofilas is introduced to and amazed by new, stronger and more positive possibilities for womanhood.


This story is useful for developing empathy with victims of domestic violence. In the unfolding of Cleofilas's life, the reader learns about the isolation, desperate hope, and denial of someone caught in the cycles of abuse. The cultural factors of immigration to a border town add depth to the reader's appreciation of the complexity of this destructive pattern.

The segment of the story in the prenatal clinic provides explicit material for discussion about how health care professionals can and should respond to their patients when they observe signs of abuse. The question, "If we don't help her, who will?"--asked by the prenatal clinician of her friend--resonates long after Cisneros's story ends.

Primary Source

Woman Hollering Creek


Random House

Place Published

New York



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