Revealing New Identities


April 29th, 2015

Revealing New Identities: Cisneros And Her Country

    It has been the duty for American writers, both past and present, to evolve and “[establish] and [discover] our national identity” through their own vernacular process (140). Sandra Cisneros is a writer whose stories have crossed many territories of American Literature. Rooting from her childhood in a Mexican-American household, and epitomized by her 1991 story titled “Woman Hollering Creek”, her readers get a viewpoint of their nation that is foreign to their own. Not only does her work represent her cultural background, but she also focuses on the gender inequality that many women here in America are forced to live with. Cisneros uses her unique experiences to unearth this new 20th century version of the American writer. The identity of this mystical being has changed over time as our country has expanded and become more diverse. Her stories and characters are infused with cultural meaning, representing the hardships many women must face each day, her stories allow the reader to become more aware and mindful of how times have changed here in America. She uses different languages unique to her culture, she discusses different themes like gender and family and how they have played in her vision of America. Cisneros uses her vernacular process to form an identity not only within her culture, but within the nation as a whole.

    Cisneros comes from a background seldom represented in American Literature. From Whitman back in the 1800s, to Hughes in the 20th century, and now with Cisneros, American Literature has seen many different faces. As America has grown and diversified, its authors and poets have been representative of that change. As America continues to struggle on the issue of gender equality, Cisneros uses her experiences as a female to develop her vision of the role gender plays in society. Cisneros writes, “Sometimes she thinks of her father’s house. But how could she go back there? What a disgrace. What would the neighbors say?”; The perspective we get has no control over her life, and the way Cisneros develops that struggle to the reader is very relatable and impactful and new (1135). In many of her stories she illustrates the hardships many young women deal with, pushing the Feminism movement into the future, making the public more aware of the struggles of their fellow Americans. Cisneros epitomizes the evolution of the American writer because she represents a common American citizen, much like Whitman did, but in a fresh 21st century rendition.

Having her stories impact audiences from all over the country is important because it expands the consciousness to a national-scale, leaving it up to the public on how they wish to interpret her lines. Like no other genre, American Literature has a subconscious effect on the reader giving them the ability to read a passage and then be able to understand and become aware of that writer’s vision. Cisneros’ work does a good job of highlighting the social barriers that many Americans must deal with everyday. She writes, “ the hubbub of parting; I am your father, I will never abandon you. He had said that, hadn’t he, when he hugged and then let her go”(1131). These lines provoke emotions of sympathy and helplessness for the Cleofilas, but in a way that even someone from a completely different background would be able to understand.  This awakens those readers out there who have a tough time relating to the culture she depicts. Not only do the readers become more aware, but they form thoughts and opinions and visions for themselves, further expanding the territories of American Literature. Every time someone reads one of her stories, her vision and vernacular helps the reader’s subconscious mature and grow and form an identity.

American Literature is heralded for embodying so many different forms and languages and themes and messages. Cisneros does just that, by using both english and spanish to help illustrate her vision, the readers get a very authentic perspective of the culture and lifestyle she is depicting. It adds another dimension left for the reader to interpret and derive meaning from. She uses themes relevant to her experiences like gender inequality and familial presence and isolation to identify and connect with her fellow Americans. In Ellison’s essay he writes about the unknown history of America, and how not knowing our past can be dangerous moving into the future. Bringing to light the struggles and hardships of her society, Cisneros writes about those tough controversial subjects, in an attempt fill the in the cracks of her cultures history. She has made her mark on the landscape of American Literature, expanding on the work of her predecessors, and converting her unique culture and unique lifestyles onto the page for people to connect with.

Sandra Cisneros has pushed the limits of American Literature, seeing how her stories have affected this country represented America, there is no doubt in how she has contributed to the evolution and discovery of something new for this genre. The territories she has covered in her work have helped her form her identity, helped her extend the boundaries of what is considered American Literature. She has transformed the image we all get in our heads when we hear the words “American Literature”, and surely her works will be of inspiration for the next generations of writers. Readers now have an expanded, more-accurate view of what America means to some people, elevating their conscious to levels not before reached. She uses specific literary devices to help compliment her vision, intensifying the author/reader relationship. As America moves into the future, more and more frontiers will emerge and thrive, leaving it up to us to form new visions and new voices that represents the passion and spirit we have.