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Assignment Questions

Fiction Literature

1. In the short story, “Woman Hollering Creek,” Cisneros creates a character, Cleófilas, that exposes some of the contradictions within cultural expectations and realities about being a wife, or at least being in love. What should a Mexican womansacrifice for love? What does the story suggest about pain, grief, shame, rage, and joy? What roles and possibilities are open to women, in both Mexico and the United States? Describe different types of community in both of these countries.
As you consider some of these questions, be aware that Cleófilas is identified with the weeping woman of folklore, la Llorona. What do you think this folktale reveals about cultural attitudes and anxieties about women? How and why does Cisneros rewrite the folktale? How does Cisneros use other characters, such as Soledad and Dolores, to revise this cultural type in different ways?
You may have noticed that “Comfort Me with Apples,” by Tracy Daugherty, also uses the folktale of la Llorona. You may compare the differing ways in which the two stories use the folktale to different ends.
Your essay must have a thesis, and support the thesis with evidence from the text. You may assume that your reader is familiar with the plot and the characters, so you do not need to (should not) summarize excessively. Because you are writing about how the novel works, you will not need to use the first person/singular. In other words, you do not need sentences like: “As I will show in this paper…” or “In my opinion….” Just state your opinions as fact, but support them with evidence, and explain the significance of your evidence. If you want to discuss the effects of certain aspects of the work, it’s best to refer to “the reader’s” response rather than to your own. Your essay should be 3-5 pages in length, MLA format.

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