Use of Water in Chopin's Awakening and Cisneros' Woman Hollering Creek Essays

Use of Water in Chopin's Awakening and Cisneros' Woman Hollering Creek Essays

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There is much use of water in Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Sandra Cisneros' Woman Hollering Creek. In The Awakening, the ocean tends to be a place where Edna Pontellier, the main character, goes to be awakened. In the short story "Woman Hollering Creek," Cisneros uses the creek as a springboard for comments and topics of discussion. This use of water is important because it is.

 

The differences between Cleofilas and the Woman Hollering Creek, or La Gritona in Spanish, run throughout the story. Though the reasons that the creek is named this are never discovered, Cleofilas wonders if it was named because the woman was hollering in pain or anger. She comments, "Such a funny name for a creek so pretty and full of happily ever after." This is ironic, because though the stream's name carries negative connotations, it flows on, and is even considered beautiful. Cleofilas, whose name is derived from the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, admired for her beauty and charisma, faces her own obstacles in life, yet throughout the majority of the story, she is silent. Cleofilas is physically abused by her husband; the first time he hits her, "she had been so surprised she didn't cry out or defend herself...instead...it left her speechless, motionless, numb." (47, 48) The narrator tells us that Cleofilas could think of nothing to say: quite the opposite of the woman the creek was named after. Cleofilas is also silent when she goes to the ice house with her husband during their first year of marriage. She "sits mute beside their conversation...nods her head, smiles, yawns, politely grins, laughs at the appropriate moments" (48) However, Cleofilas does have moments of doubt and inward questioning. While listening to...


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...filas laugh, and it seems only appropriate that the laughter should be likened to water, which is again used as a symbol of rebirth and renewal.

 

In a more practical way, Chopin uses water to immediately and tangibly revive Edna. During a church service that Edna attends with Robert, she is overcome with "oppression and drowsiness" (60). She leaves the service and is comforted that the only sound is the "voice of the sea" (60). However, it is a water drawn by an Acadian youth that "greatly revived and refreshed her" (61). Additionally, when Edna is home by herself, she ends the evening with "a refreshing bath...and as she snuggled comfortably beneath the eiderdown a sense of restfulness invaded her, such as she had not known before" (122) These two small instances provides legitimacy and support to Chopin's affair with water in the novel.

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