Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation


Department 1

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.


Final paper for Prof. Valiela's WGS221/LAS222 “Bridging the Borders: U.S. Latina and Latin American Women Writers,” spring 2012