Hannah M. Frantz '13, Gettysburg College
Student Research Paper
Date of Creation
Latin American Studies
This paper explores the various ways in which Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s La Respuesta, Sandra Cisneros’s “Woman Hollering Creek,” and María Luisa Bombal’s “The Tree” address the theme of silence. It interrogates how the female characters in each of these works are silenced as well as their responses to that oppression. Meaning is subjective, so writing is a safe outlet for the oppressed. These works each identify an oppressor, either a husband or the male dominated church, as well as an oppressed individual, who is the female lead. In La Respuesta, the Catholic church, and specifically “Sor Filotea” tries to silence Sor Juana. She regards silence as a tool because “what it signifies may be understood” in its absence (43). Brígida, from Bombal’s “The Tree” suffers under the oppression of her aged husband, Luis. She uses silence as a weapon and chooses it to rebel against her inability to communicate. Cisneros focuses very specifically on language and the ability to produce sound in “Woman Hollering Creek.” Her female character, Cleófilas, is silenced by her husband’s physical and emotional abuse. She must literally break her silence with a holler in order to overcome his oppression. Each of these women regards silence differently, but in one form or another, each of their female characters manages to break through that silence and out of their oppression.
This is the author's version of the work. This publication appears in Gettysburg College's institutional repository by permission of the copyright owner for personal use, not for redistribution
Frantz, Hannah M., "“To Say Nothing”: Variations on the Theme of Silence in Selected Works by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Sandra Cisneros, and María Luisa Bombal" (2012). Student Publications. 68.