“Only Daughter” by Sandra Cisneros
In “Only Daughter” by Sandra Cisneros, Cisneros describes what it was like to grow up as the only girl in a family of seven children, born to a Mexican-American mother and a Mexican father. In “Only Daughter,” she discusses the difficulties of growing up the only daughter in an American-Mexican family, and how her traditional father was more concerned with her finding a husband than becoming a writer.
Describe this conflict. How do Cisneros’ expectations compare to her father’s expectations? How does her experience of family expectations compare with your own? Use examples from the text and from your own knowledge, observations, and experience to support your ideas. Please refer to the outline below to help you develop your essay.
Conflict in Sandra Cisneros’ ‘Only Daughter’
Sandra Cisneros’ Only Daughter is an interesting short piece of literature that discusses the challenges she faced growing up as an only female child in a Mexican American family of nine. One of the key themes that she highlights in her story is the conflicting relationship she had with her father following their differing interests and expectations. As a typical Mexican man, Cisneros’ father held on to the traditional dogmas which emphasized the social submission of women in the family setting. This reality is evidenced in his peculiar expectation with regards to her academic life: noteworthy is the fact that he considered college “… good for finding a husband (Cisneros, 1995).” Another instance in which this patriarchal worldview is enforced is in her unacknowledged presence in the family. Her father often boasted, or probably, complained about having “seven sons”, thus affirming the subtlety of Cisneros’ presence as the only daughter. The patriarchal attitude held by the author’s father conflicted her feministic worldview, which saw her pursue a life of socio-economic independence devoid of the presence of a husband in the picture.
When reflecting on Cisneros’ phenomenal work, I cannot help but notice various instances in which her case applies to my life. Inasmuch as the conflict between me and my family are not based on gender roles, they are somehow influenced by the societal principles. The society has rightly elevated the duties of first-born children in their families, and communities at large. It is not uncommon to see families depending on such members to be in charge of rescuing them socioeconomically once they complete their education. A similar instance is seen in how Cisneros’ father expectation was met by his eldest son who became a doctor. In my case, my family expresses concerns over my progress rate with respect to most if not all socio-economic aspects of life including career growth and dating/marriage. Even though I acknowledge my responsibility to set an example for my siblings, I understand that such matters need to be approached patiently. Given my current situation, I can confidently assert that I understand the social pressure experienced by Cisneros in ‘Only Daughter’.
Sandra Cisneros’ article offers a unique lens through which the social pressures of the world can affect an individual’s life. The most interesting part of this reality is the fact that the conflicts tend to arise from dogmatic worldviews that have been imposed upon us by the society (Archer & Ware, 2018). As seen in her case, Cisneros father has an underlying perspective of the role women ought to hold in the society. This worldview is challenged by his only daughter when she finds passion and freedom in writing. Her decision to go against all the odds makes it seem like tertiary education was fruitless since it was stereotypically intended to allow her to encounter a suitable suitor in the process. After looking into the author’s situation through the lens of my life, I am convinced that such pressures and conflict are not constrained within the boundaries of gender roles. The conflict I experience in my family offers a strong affirmation of the preceding sentiment, thus, authorizing me to conclude that Cisneros’ Only Daughter is a unique piece of literature that allows its readership to understand how interpersonal conflicts are inspired by preexisting social norms.
Archer, A., & Ware, L. (2018). Beyond the call of beauty: Everyday aesthetic demands under patriarchy. The Monist, 101(1), 114-127. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/monist/article-abstract/101/1/114/4782700
Cisneros, S. (1995). Only Daughter. New York, USA: Women’s Voices from the Borderlands. Retrieved from http://chawkinsteaching.weebly.com/uploads/1/2/9/7/12977279/only_daughter.pdf