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2017-02-18 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Paper范文



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 the sounds of the creek she "Wonders if something as quiet as this drives a woman to the darkness under the trees." (51)

We find Edna Pontellier in a similar, but perhaps more advanced stage of reasoning: "At a very early period she had apprehended instinctively the dual life--that outward existence which conforms, the inward life that questions." (26) Edna's personal journey is also mirrored in the way she interacts with the water that makes up her story. During both Edna's evening of her first swim on her own, as well as the end of the novel, which alludes to her death, she goes through various emotions, all of which are microcosms for the range of emotion seen in the entire novel. Once Edna learns to swim, she is overcome with feelings of pride and invincibility. In fact, "she grew daring and reckless, overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before." (47) And she does swim far out, where no woman had ever swum before. At the close of the novel, Edna swims out to sea and "exhaustion was pressing upon and overpowering her." (190) Similar to her experience when she first swims, when she turns to see how far she has actually come, Edna panics and "a quick vision of death smote her soul, and a for a second of time appalled and enfeebled her senses." (48) In the instant before she dies, "She looked into the distance, and the old terror flamed up for an instant, then sand again." (190) This terrifying emotion could parallel her thoughts before she swims out into the ocean as well. Edna may have seen how far she had come in terms of loving Robert, yet not being able to love him openly, and recognized how this would destroy her. This ties back to her comment made to Madame Ratingnolle that she would give up "the unessential, but she would never sacrifice herself for her children" (188). Though Madame Ratingnolle says to Edna, "Think of the children, Edna! Oh think of the children! Remember them!" (182) It seems as though Edna's suicide is an expression of her love for her children, as though she is not willing to give up her true identity and feign marital bliss.

Cleofilas is in the same boat. In "Woman Hollering Creek," the first sentence begins with strong familial ties, and a parental-child love. Cleofilas' father, Don Serafin, makes a bold statement, "I am your father, I will never abandon you" (44) and the story comes full circle as Cleofilas takes a bus home to the father that gave her permission to be married to Juan Pedro Martinez Sanchez. Cleofilas believes that "a parent's love for a child, a child's for its parents" never sours (43). As Edna attempts to do what is right for her children, Cleofilas leaves Juan Pedro for the same reasons. Though in the beginning she thinks, "to suffer for love is good. The pain all sweet somehow. In the end" (45), she is not able to be true to herself while she is with Juan Pedro, nor is she able to be an effective mother if she is constantly bruised and battered, thus we see her understanding that to suffer for love can still be good, but her definition of love need not include abuse. During her physical journey away from her old house, she experiences freedom, without actually labeling it as such. Felice, her transportation to the bus station, lets out a liberating yell as they pass over the creek. Felice begins laughing and Cleofilas finds herself laughing as well, a "gurgling out of her own throat, a long ribbon of laughter, like water." The connection between this one and only instance of Cleofilas' laughter and water symbolize a rebirth and renewal in both her mind-set and physical circumstances.

Edna experiences this same renewal in her experience in the water. Twice, the narrator uses the sentence, "The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace." (25, 189) However, the context for the first time the sentence is placed within the story is before Edna has learned to swim. Edna is experiencing something new as she enters the sea a virgin swimmer, and the sentence reads as a new, sexual awakening. It is a foreshadowing to her affairs with Robert Lebrun and Alcee Arobin, as she embarks on sexual adventures with them. It also foreshadows her final swim, where the sentence is again placed to describe Edna's wade into the ocean. Though we read the same sentence, it takes on an entirely new meaning in light of its context. It follows the line, "The foamy wavelets curled up to her white feet, and coiled like serpents about her ankles." (189) This line is first introduced during Edna's virgin swim, as a description of the water the party was walking into, "The sea was quiet now...and did not break except upon the beach in little foamy crests that coiled back like slow, white serpents." (47) The use of the description "white" is interesting, as it modifies the serpents in the first mention, and Edna's feet in the second mention. I believe Chopin is making the statement that perception changes with experience.

Likewise, in "Woman Hollering Creek" we have the same creek, named Woman Hollering, yet at the beginning of the story Cleofilas wonders if the woman hollers out of pain or anger, and she ruminates on this several times throughout the story, "Pain or rage, Cleofilas wondered when she drove over the bridge for the first time as a newlywed" (47) However, as Felice drives over the bridge in her pick-up truck, Cleofilas is able to see creek in a new light, and she thinks,

Pain or rage, perhaps, but not a hoot like the one Felice had just like that...Then Felice began laughing again, but it wasn't Felice laughing. It was gurgling out of her own throat, a long ribbon of laughter, like water. (56) This is the first time we see Cleofilas 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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