Does the Community Play Any Role in Shaping Esperanza's Identity? Essay Sample

Published: 2022-05-13
Does the Community Play Any Role in Shaping Esperanza's Identity? Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Literature
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 1931 words
17 min read

The House on Mango Street by Cisneros spotlights challenges facing women in a male-dominated society through observational writing and most importantly through the life of Esperanza whom Cisneros chooses as her protagonist. As a young female, Esperanza continually struggles to gain identity in the patriarchal community in which she is brought up. Since experience can shape children's character, Cisneros chose to base her story from the perspective of an adolescent. In the first chapter, Esperanza introduces the six members of her family- her papa, mama, Nenny her younger sister and Carlos and Kiki her younger brothers but doesn't present herself as she is still struggling to come up with a name and an identity for herself (Cisneros 3). At this point, the story she tells is more about her memories and observations. It is crucial to note that, Esperanza's community plays a vital role in shaping her identity and strengthening her resolve towards fighting against injustices and atrocities conducted against for women in a male-controlled society.

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The main problems that Esperanza notices and keeps a record of throughout her life include abuse, oppression, and victimization which result from the male-controlled values that are characteristic of her society. This experiences fuels up her writing consequently enabling her to identify herself uniquely. Bloom, through his scholarly article that evaluates The House on the Mango Street, approves this idea when he states that "It is from these encounters with the Chicana's lives that Esperanza is able to evade this fate as she matures" (96). As a teenager, Esperanza was unable to detach herself from this culture entirely. However, she was able to resist the patriarchy standards and eventually gained the ability to withstand unjust treatment. The experiences from her fellow Chicana's enabled her to acknowledge that, for her to be free from the patriarchal limitations as an adult, as a woman she had to resist this culture. When Esperanza says that she would tell us a story of a young woman who did not want to belong (Cisneros 109), she vows to narrate her life's story, her encounters, her quest for identity as well as her maturation. As a girl, Esperanza knew something was not right, and for that, she did not want to be part of her community.

Esperanza's unwillingness to conform to the culture of her community resulted in her quest for identity. Her battles in the novel are as a result of her reluctance and inability to take in the problems that come with living in the male-controlled community. Her failure to marry with the customs of her community's culture denied her the opportunity to self-identity. Esperanza ended up being alienated. Esperanza's idea of isolation was exacerbated by the fact that she was a Mexican racially, though intellectually a Mexican American; as a juvenile adolescent, Esperanza was encircled by ill-treated, worn-out and helpless females, but she had to be a free woman (Olivares 77). The numerous examples of abused and overpowered women sparked Esperanza's desperate feeling for the desire for freedom. In her feelings of loneliness, Esperanza pondered on the fact that there was no one around her that she could associate with, and she yearned for the day that she would come across someone to whom she could connect. Esperanza says that, until she meets that person she can relate to she will be a balloon, a red balloon tangled to an anchor (Cisneros 9). Esperanza as well contemplates of adopting a unique name, a unique name that feels like the single her, the her that not one person could see (Cisneros 10). This quote not only suggests her loneliness but also her desire for the chance to be the real her, that person in her seen by no one as she was atypical of her community's culture. Esperanza acknowledges the fact that she is unlike other women in her town, she feels that this is the reason as to why no one recognizes her desires. It is also clear that Esperanza's lack of companions doesn't result from her inability to make some but because it is hard for her to be part of them. She declines to turn into a dupe of victimization, oppression, and abuse like the rest of the women depicted in her community.

Majority of the males in the text are depicted as cruel, repressive or manipulative. While females are contrastingly represented as dupes; they are abused not only mentally but also physically. The abuse doesn't not only affect the women physically but emotionally as well, with results that are similarly shattering. A good example of emotional maltreatment in the novel is the instance when Esperanza recounts a woman by the name Minerva. She has many problems the biggest one being her man who has already left and kept leaving (Cisneros 84). Minerva's mother also experienced the same difficulties that Minerva is currently experiencing. As indicated in the text, Minerva's mother brought up the children by herself, and it's very likely that her daughter will have to go the same way as well (Cisneros 84). While trying to end the psychological mistreatment, Minerva tries to free herself from her man. However, she comes up short. Nevertheless, she one day manages to let her husband know that she can't tolerate him anymore, as per the novel, but after her husband apologizes, once again Minerva lets him in (Cisneros 85). This exemplifies the theme of the abuse cycle. The following week Minerva comes over black and blue and wonders if there is anything that she could do (Cisneros 85). No matter how hard Minerva longs to set herself free, it becomes hard for her. Out of hopelessness that Minerva feels, she gives up and makes no more effort.

Minerva is a victim of abuse in the male-controlled Hispanic culture. As suggested by the text, women abuse is not only limited to married women but also daughters and little girls. An example of this idea in the novel is Esperanza's observation of the life a girl named Sally. Because Sally is afraid of telling the truth about her cruel father, she ends up making excuses regarding him. As Esperanza recounts, Sally says his father never hits her hard (Cisneros 92). Although Sally confesses being beaten by her abusive father, she still supports him. The action of the mums in the script is inappropriate. Sally's mother rubs lard all over the hurting places (Cisneros 92). The mothers make an effort to reduce the pain and whitewash the evidence instead of taking the right course of action and stop the abuse. Women are scared of standing up against men's cruelty for the sake of their children and theirs' as well. As the text proposes, ill-treat of ladies is a disturbing issue within the confines of the Hispanic community. As a result of not being valued nor respected, women in the text feel like demoralized sufferers. After Sally gets married, her husband who works as a salesman, wouldn't let her use the telephone, peep outside through the window nor even let her friends visit. He claims not to like them. However, Sally is happy as she can buy things with the money given to her by her husband.

The first move to Esperanza's declaration for her freedom is marked by Cisneros letting her write about her experiences. Esperanza responds positively to various challenges as she records her experiences. She uses the lessons, from the challenges she encounters, to fuel up her maturation. To Esperanza, subjecting herself to those abusive experiences was not an option at any given moment. Upon reflecting on the human brutality and hostility of wife-beating, Olivares agrees with the fact that for the women to break themselves out of the ill-treated circle, it will undoubtedly take them strong willpower to speak against it and evade it but not hatred or violence. It is a result of how ladies in the script are handled that Esperanza behaves as she does especially when responding to the attention given to her by boys.

Esperanza gives little interest to boys. This is contrary to what she observes from the rest of the lassies in the text. Majority of them long dearly for attention from boys and are very concerned about their looks. In the script, one of the girls says that the boys seeing the girls and the girls seeing the boys is all that matters (Cisneros 27). As it appears in the text, women's aspirations are narrowed to marriage since marriage, to them, likens to stability and security; in other words, through marriage women are well attended. Again, the girl referred to above is once again described by Esperanza as seen capering beneath the streetlamp, waiting for a falling star or a car drop by or even someone to turn around her life (Cisneros 27). Hopping a man show up and take her with him, this young girl waits around. The behavior of this girl can be attributed to the perception she has grown to have about males as presented to her by the patriarchal culture. As Esperanza recounts of an old lady named Ruthie, she states that Ruthie had the chance to be anything she would have wanted to (Cisneros 68). But for marriage, Ruthie gave up her dreams and instead got married and left for a lovely home away from the city (Cisneros 69). According to the text, this comprises part of the significant problems experienced by the Hispanic culture and its one which Esperanza potently resists. Esperanza conducts herself in a manner that is typically in contrast with that of the woman living around her. Esperanza's behavior that focuses her in the direction entailing independence enables her to resist the patriarchal culture efficiently.

Raising children and taking care of the home is what was believed to be the primary responsibilities of a woman in the patriarchal society consequently making women depend on men financially. Esperanza appropriately responds to this custom by realizing the need for her to secure a job at an early age. At her youthful age, Esperanza took the initiative to get herself a job, and thus she would be able to take care of herself without depending on men. All the same, the text submits that it was hard for Esperanza to get a job. She expresses that, it is not that she never wanted to work, she did. A month earlier, she had even visited the security agency to get her social security number (Cisneros 53). This illustrates Esperanza's great eagerness and desire to get employment. Majority of the ladies that Esperanza had observed were almost entirely reliant on men. Unlike many women who are financially at the mercies of men, Esperanza makes a big leap towards independence.

Her experiences in this community primarily influence the steps of Esperanza towards independence. She finds her identity through writing about the various observations she had made in her city. Out of these experiences, Esperanza was able to grow. The idea is supported by McCracken (65) when he states that the text is like a chronicle of several years of the life of Esperanza in her Chicano community as she transforms from the innocence associated with girlhood to the stunning understanding of unfairness resulting from sexual based inequality, socioeconomic disparities, and violence. The naive and lost girl that Esperanza used to be is no more. Instead, Esperanza is growing up and understanding the importance of the problems surrounding her. Esperanza was lucky enough to grow and realize herself in her teenage. Through her writing, she knew that she could get an escape. All these experiences that were coming to her as a teen gave her the ability to unshackle herself and give shape to her individuality.

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