Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican American writer, poet, and artist, born on December 20, 1954 in Chicago, Illinois. Her book, Women Hollering Creek and Other Stories, published in 1991, reflects her upbringing of being surrounded by American influences while still being bound to her Mexican heritage. The collection of tales focuses on the role of women in society, their struggles, and their relationship with men and others in their lives. For instance, in her short story, One Holy Night, it focuses on the feminine cliché of the passive virgin. One Holy Night is a short story of a young naïve girl who falls in love with a mysterious boy named Chaq, who is supposedly descended from Mayan kings. She becomes so infatuated with him and the thought of having sex, loses her virginity to “Boy Baby” only to find out that he’s nothing who he seemed to be. He’s no one where to be found as he fled from his lies and she later finds out she’s pregnant with his baby. After being sent to live in Mexico, the narrator receives a news article that reveals Chaq turns out to be a 37-year-old man who was arrested for the murders of eleven women over the past seven years. In Cisneros’, One Holy Night, we see the narrator’s ignorance towards the complexity of adolescence through her childish infatuations and emotions which develop the themes of love and deception.
Throughout the story, Cisneros depicts love in a rather negative light. Within the opening lines of the story, love becomes the main focus. Boy Baby, who the narrator falls in love with, professes that he will love her hard, “like a revolution, like a religion” (Cisneros, 27). The authors use of similes propose to the teenage narrator that Chaq’s love for her would be deep, it will be life-changing, and the love shared between the two sacred. With the boys claims and confessions she so falls deeply in love with his promise of love that she begins imaging herself losing her virginity to the mysterious boy. She envisions that her virginity will “come undone like a gold thread, like a tent full of birds” (Cisneros, 28). Cisneros’s word choice of “gold thread” truly depict that narrators’ raw emotion of losing her virginity. It’s something meaningful to her, it represents how delicate and precious it is. The “like a tent full of birds”, imply the feeling of newfound freedom she expects to experience after losing her virginity to the boy she’s madly in love with. For the narrator, losing her virginity is visualized to be a euphoric pinnacle and understanding of her love for Chaq.
However, as we come to know, the teenage narrator’s love for Boy Baby leads up to disappointment, hopelessness, and the loss of her childhood innocence. Cisneros most noteworthy symbol for this anticlimactic peak of the narrator’s love is, the baby she is left with. The baby is constant reminder of her tragic time with Boy Baby, one that won’t let her rest in her now hard life. The narrator describes the baby as no ordinary mother would, rather she describes the unborn child as one might describe a monster or wild animal. It “circles and circles” (Cisneros, 34), inside of her like a predator ready to kill and she can “feel the animal inside me stirring in his own uneven sleep” (Cisneros, 34). She longs for this monster to be out of her but fears that one day, “it will tear from me with its own teeth” (Cisneros, 34). Cisneros uses the baby as the literal and figurative symbol of her love for Chaq because no matter how she feels about him, she’ll always be remembered of him and her love for him even through his dark predator ways.
The theme of deception is also implied very early in the short story. Within the opening lines of the story, the readers get a sense of this. Cisneros starts off her story with, “He said his name was Chaq. Chaq Uxmal Paloquin. That’s what he told me” (Cisneros, 27). The connotation of these lines the narrator speaks promote the feeling that this boy she knows as Chaq, has told her lies and that there is a denial to his true identity. Further on into Cisneros’ story, the narrator describes Chaq’s voice as “sometimes like broken clay, and at other times like hollow sticks, or like the swish of old feathers crumbling into dust” (Cisneros, 29). The images Cisneros paint here, “broken” and “hollow”, represents the lies and fairytales Chaq deceives the narrator with. It foreshadows the narrator’s awareness of the boy’s confessions of love are, like the clay and sticks, “broken” and “hollow”.
Throughout the short story, the themes of love and deception go hand-in-hand. The narrators love for Boy Baby is no more than a child infatuation, this lustful fairytale creates in her head that’s only manipulated and exploited by Chaq, who is truly an older, deceitful criminal. He abuses the young girls’ naïve feelings of love to exploit them to get what he truly wants from her. When left alone and pregnant to only think, she realizes the deception and much of the pain brought to her is embedded in the fact that her first special moment with love, something she thought so precious and pure, is neglected, betrayed, and exploited.