The novel The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros was written in 1984. Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican American writer, she was born in 1954 in Chicago, Illinois. She is the daughter of a Mexican father and a Mexican-American mother. She grew up surrounded by boys. she was the only girl in a family of six brothers. She would trouble to Mexico and the United States constantly that she thought that she didn’t belong to either one. She encounters many life experiences that made her become a writer. Cisneros wrote many novels that can make any reader feel like they are part of the story. She was known for her first book The House on Mango Street.
The novel has many short stories told by a teenage girl named Esperanza. The story takes place on Mango Street. Esperanza and her family moved to a Latino neighborhood in Chicago. Esperanza doesn’t like where they live the house is small and in a poor neighborhood. The story tracks Esperanza’s experiences over a year while living on Mango Street. Just by the way Esperanza describes Louie’s cousin car, “big yellow Cadillac with white walls and a yellow scarf tied around the mirror” makes me think the story takes place around the 1900s.
The main and most important character is Esperanza. She narrates short stories of her life, her family, neighbors and her secret imagination. Her imaginations show how she discovers several things and how she changed while living on Mango Street. Esperanza starts the story by explaining and describing where her family; parents, three siblings and herself, moved to. She also states they own the house on Mango Street, but she doesn’t like it. She hopes of living in a better house because she is not pleased with the house. She compares the house they live in with the ones she sees on TV. In the novel, she states, “It’s small and red with tight steps in front and windows so small you’d think they were holding their breath. Bricks are crumbling in places, and the front door is so swollen you have to push hard to get in. Everybody has to share a bedroom—Mama and Papa, Carlos and Kiki, me and Nenny.” The house doesn’t fit the type of house her parents want or the house that she has been thinking about. She feels humiliated of how the house looks. She also doesn’t like her name. She feels very self-conscious, and when people say it, it sounds bad to her ears. In the book, she states, “ In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing.” She was named after her great-grandmother, and she hopes she doesn’t end up like the first Esperanza; watching life pass by through the window. To not end up being like her she baptizes herself as “Zeze the X.”
As Esperanza meets her Mango Street neighbors, she observes their life. Her first friend Cathy lives upstairs. But unfortunately, Cathy is going to move away because Cathy’s father says the neighborhood is getting really bad, and more people like Esperanza’s family are moving there. But luckily for Esperanza two other girls, Lucy and Rachel, adopt Esperanza into their circle. As time goes by, Esperanza matures, she becomes friends with Sally. Sally is the same age as Esperanza but her makeup and the way she dresses is beyond her years. Sally makes Esperanza a little uncomfortable, just by the way she acts around guys. Esperanza was assault while hanging out with her one night, and was also tricked into kissing a man. In her book, she explains that she finds her sexual awareness becoming a destructive force in her life. She gets excited when guys look at her, but the last two bad experiences destroy her dreams of having her first kiss or a true love. Despite all that, she still holds on into her dreams of having a boyfriend, and not look for a man to escape from her world. She has been seeing many unhappy marriages in her neighborhood. The way men treated women was wrong and she didn’t like that. Living on Mango Street gives her bad life experiences. She decides to leave Mango Street to become a better person and to build her dream house.
At some point in her story, she mentions that she will return to Mango Street one day and help those who are not lucky enough to move out. During her last chapters Esperanza admits that she cannot forget about Mango Street, she states, “What I remember most is Mango Street, sad red house, the house I belong but do not belong to.” She can’t forget about Mango Street because it shaped her life in a way.
I believe this story is a great way to show readers, how some Latino neighborhoods are. It demonstrates the problems poor people face and the struggle they have to go in order to discover themselves in a new country. It also shows how a child evolves to an adult that can care for themselves and think before acting. The main purpose of her novel is about; growing up, finding out where you come from, where you belong, and who you want to be.
This story can define almost every teenager who has gone through the very difficult transformation into becoming an adult. That transformation can bring excitement, but it could also be challenging. Many high schools require students to read this book, and it is a good idea because some students can relate to it. I know when I was in high school I read it. It really helped me open my eyes. I was dealing with changes in my body, but I was also trying to figure out how to be myself in a new and different country. It was hard to get used to a new country, culture, and a neighborhood.
I would recommend reading the novel The House on Mango Street. Many people would be able to relate to the concept of the story or the problems that Esperanza goes through. So many teenagers who may be living in poverty or trying to get their path straight will be able to relate to it.
Esperanza is the main character. She is trying to figure out her life in a Latino neighborhood that she does not like. She lives with her parents and three siblings. I would describe her family as rich in spirit and culture, but materially poor. The House on Mango Street is defined as one big community. We get an understanding of Esperanza’s identity, her family and neighborhood. At beginning of the book, Cathy tells Esperanza that the neighborhood is scary and depreciating because people like Esperanza’s family are moving in. This makes her feel scared because her family moved from a bad neighborhood to a similar one. Many Mexican American people suffer the negative stereotyping that prevents them from getting a stable and well-paid job. Therefore, many of these families remain in low-income neighborhoods like The House on Mango Street. One of the major cultural values presented in this story is Esperanza can’t put together her own unique identity. She is trapped in many cultures. Her family comes from Mexico. She is Chicana, but she is also American. But she experiences the American culture in a different way. Living in a poor Latino neighborhood made her learned about other cultures. The book also describes how some Mexican women are treated by men. Esperanza refuses to be like the women in her neighborhood. She states, “I am the one who leaves the table like a man, without putting back the chair or picking up the plate.” she clearly doesn’t like the traditional roles she sees at home and with her other friends. So she refuses to follow the traditional female gender roles and prefers to be a housewife and get a good husband. She also states she will get a job to support herself.