Monday, October 27, 2008


After class on friday, I kept thinking of how form was important to the telling of these particular stories and what it meant to use differing perspectives, one-sided dialogue, slang, and all the other literary techniques employed by Cisneros. It is the question I kept at the front of my mind while reading the second half of the book but still not an easy one to answer. 
The conclusion I have come to without anyone to banter back and forth with is that Cisneros uses these varying stories and perspectives to break down the stereotype that the world (mainly north americans) has regarding Chicanos. That there are infinite variations on the chicano story; girls born with mexican mothers and mexican-american fathers, chicanos that can't speak spanish, girls born north of the border only to be sent south of the border. Back and forth, mixing this with that, Cisneros shows us how different one chicano's life might be from the next. I think that she reinforces this idea with the reoccurence of popular culture.
Her various mentions of telenovelas, barbie dolls, latin pop music and fast-food mexican restaurants juxtapose the "authentic" life Cisneros wishes (and succeeds) to portray. In the story "woman hollering creek", telenovelas provide a stereotypical view from both sides of the border. While Cleofilas dreams in anticipation of her life in the US, she compares what she thinks it will be like to the cheesy, mexican telenovelas; at least she will have the passion and the pretty dresses they wear. Meanwhile, the woman who saves her from a life of abuse, Felice, breaks the stereotype that Cleofilas has of women. That they must depend on men (not just her husband but her father and brothers as well) to survive and be happy. The use of the soap opera  is then used in reverse when Felice hears Cleofilas' story. "a real soap opera sometimes" she says. Felice has obviously heard this drama story before.
In "Bien Pretty", Lupe falls in love with a stereotype. a short, poor mexican that comes to exterminate the cucarachas from her house. she wants to use him as a model for a painting of a mayan because he has that face that is perfect for it, that stereotypical face. she loves things about him like his uneducated bluntness and the language he uses when they make love but i don't think she really loved him. it was more the idea or the concept of being with a mexican that she had grown to love. even after seeing the tattoos on his body of the names of past lovers, she is still surprised to hear that he has children to feed and ex-wives south of the border? common lupe.
I think that popular culture and the stereotypes that pop culture create are very important themes throughout this collection of stories. i think that in every single story there is some reference, no matter how small, to pop culture. now we can either identify with these cultural references and slangy italicized words or not (depending on what you know). but i think in most cases we understand that there is much more depth to these stories than barbies and one-sided conversations. i don't know, i think i don't quite get it yet.


beth said...

I really like your observations here. I can't quite figure out why it didn't occur to me that Cisneros is attempting to break down the stereotypes about Chicano culture. I didn't really see the connection, but you are so right. It really makes me want to stop making generalizations with the use of terms like "Chicano."

saucey boy said...

I agree in that I don't really know what Cisneros is attempting to do with these stories with regard to some sort of overall theme of culture...I feel that it's almost too subtle to fully understand. I think the book is more just individual narratives and sentiments rather than a general social commentary