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Sandra Cisneros The House On Mango Street Essay

Essay about The House on Mango Street

471 Words2 Pages

In life many people set goals for themselves. For some people it maybe a goal such as obtaining a high test grade and for others it maybe to one day own a race car. Everybody has a different outlook on life and everyone has different goals in which they one day hope to achieve. The people who achieve their goals are those who are motivated and determined to do so. When these goals are achieved it is then when you are a hero to yourself.

Growing up as a child in a poor family, Esperanza Cordero was very ambitious. She was ashamed of her family and her house, and she always had dreams of one day having a beautiful house on a hill, with flowers all around. A house she wouldn't be ashamed to point to and say it was hers. She knew…show more content…

With all of the bad things going on around Esperanza, she was very optimistic and made the best of everything she could. For example, in chapter one, Esperanza explain how she and her family had always grown up poor and that they always had dreams of one day owning a big beautiful house like the ones that they saw on television. One with a back yard and a basement. When Esperanza's family was forced to move her parents had purchased the first house that they could afford so they wouldn't have to continue paying rent. The house was nothing like what they had spoke of or dreamt about. But Esperanza states, "I then knew I had to have a house. One I could point to. But this isn't it. The house on Mango Street isn't it. For the time being, Mama said. Temporary, says Papa. But I know how those things go.." Within this paragraph it shows that Esperanza isn't exactly happy about where she is living but she is going to make the best of it and do what she has to do to get out of there and have a house of her own. One that she can point to.

Another example of optimism portrayed by Esperanza was that despite her horrible first experiences with the opposite sex, (as in chapter 21, The First Job and chapter 39, The Red Clowns) she still has dreams of sitting outside at night with her

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The House on Mango Street, published in 1984, is Sandra Cisneros’s first work of fiction. With its appearance she became recognized as the most powerful writer of a group of emerging Chicana writers that included Ana Castillo, Denise Chávez, and Gloria Anzaldua. This group was the second big wave of Latin American writers to emerge in late twentieth century American fiction, following the successes of a number of Latin American male writers in the 1970’s.

Cisneros’s training as a poet is evident in her fiction. The author has described the forty-six short vignettes that make up the novel as combining aspects of poetry and short stories. The tiny chapters are intensely lyrical, written in a prose highly charged with metaphor. Each section has a title, and each can stand alone as an autonomous piece, like a prose poem. Esperanza’s voice unifies the pieces, however, and creates a continuing narrative. Her quest for identity shapes the otherwise loose plot. The nonlinear narrative moves from one event to another, often revisiting settings and characters in much the same way a young girl’s conversation or inner thoughts might skip from one story to another.

Based on Cisneros’s experiences growing up in a Latino neighborhood in Chicago, The House on Mango Street is the story of a girl’s search for identity as she comes of age. The narrative covers one crucial year in the life of Esperanza, a Chicana, who is ethnically Mexican and culturally Mexican American. Cisneros has suggested that her book, though written in English, employs Latina syntax and sensibility. For effect and mood she sometimes uses Spanish phrases that an English-only reader must comprehend from context.

Esperanza describes her world with a child’s innocence that is beginning to fade. Despite approaching puberty, with its longings and confusion, she is an astute observer of the world around her, especially of the adults and their actions. She seems to understand intuitively the emotions of her friends, family, and neighbors.

She begins to reject traditional roles and to seek out those who can give her support as a fledgling writer. “Bums in the Attic,” “The Three Sisters,” and “A House of My Own” are significant pieces in the narrative, marking stages in the development of Esperanza’s sense of identity, which she knows is linked to her need to write.

The world of Mango Street is filtered through Esperanza’s sensibility. Each event or person she describes has affected her in an essential way. Her youth makes her a reliable narrator; her observations are honest and unexaggerated, without guile. She narrates a story with a dual plot: One is the story of her own search for identity, about creativity and becoming an artist; the other is the story of her Latino neighborhood and the individuals the reader comes to know in her neighborhood. She alludes to racism and classism, although her child’s voice suggests that her awareness of these social problems has only just begun. The humor, joys, frustrations, and desperation she describes in the women’s stories create a mosaic of Latina life.

Esperanza’s descriptions focus on the women she knows, and her portraits reveal how women’s lives are made difficult by the men who dominate them. Her perspective often points to the ways society at large oppresses Latin Americans, which impose a double yoke on Latina women. Living in a strongly patriarchal society, often in fear of violence, they find their choices for survival and self-expression limited. It is their fate the narrator wants to escape.

Esperanza insists that she must have a house of her own to support her intent to be a writer. The need for a house and the need to be a writer are actually inseparable. The house she imagines and describes becomes her symbol for freedom and artistic expression. It also ties her to her community and is the source of her identity and of her stories. How artistic creation strengthens identity and provides dignity is an important theme of the novel.

In subsequent works—including the collection of stories Woman Hollering Creek, and Other Stories (1991) and the volumes of poetry My Wicked, Wicked Ways (1987) and Loose Woman (1994)—Cisneros continues to explore feminism, biculturalism, family violence, artistic creativity, and personal identity. Her work offers insights into what it means to be a Mexican American living in the United States.