The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is a novel that revolves around Esperanzas, the main character, conscience and life struggles. By using vignettes, the novel is a reflection of the authors life who like the main character, is a Latina woman living in the neighbourhoods of Chicago, IL. The story narrates about the adolescence of Esperanza and the struggles she endures in identifying herself with of her family and finding her place in the society as a woman. The novel introduces the protagonist by describing the neighbourhood, and social environment that she finds herself living in. As the story progresses, the author switches to address more serious issues such as puberty, the idea of being a woman, and machismo. Cisneros uses symbolism, vignettes and characterization to share her ideologies.
The narrative has a lot of symbolism that alludes to independence and gender identity, which is also a reflection on Cisneros's life story that was also influenced by her quest for independence and gender identity. Esperanza strives to become independent and is afraid that her lack of beauty will impede her ambitions. However, her mother comforts her and advises her not to rely on men for empowerment but instead rely on her abilities and not to take the same path she took when she abandoned education. In so doing, she could now not even figure out how to use the trains. Additionally, Esperanza strives to define her femininity in a society that emphasizes on machismo. Just like Esperanza, Sandra struggled with her femininity as she was born into a household full of brothers. Furthermore, Sandra Cisneros also admits that her mother is the same mother that is described in the story of A Smart Cookie. She is depicted as a woman who can speak two languages and fix the TV and draw, but doesnt know how to get downtown because she doesnt know which train to take (Cisneros & Martha, chapter 36).
Contrary to the norm in her society, Esperanza wants to be a different by having her house. The image of a house is used as a symbol of women containment. The houses owned by men are like prisons for women as is depicted by Rafaela and Mamacitas story where they look out the window wishing that they could leave. Esperanza doesnt she wants to have her house hence liberating herself. Cisneros also identifies herself with Esperanzas aspirations.
The house on Mango Street is about Esperanza, a little girl who wants to be different from all the people that live around her. Esperanza struggles to have an identity for herself (individuality). She narrates in first person her experiences, addressing serious issues like female identity and male chauvinism. Additionally, Cisneros uses the idea of power as portrayed by Esperanzas character to communicate her personal ideas throughout the narrative. The author continually points out the injustices of classism, sexism and other stereotypes that are commonplace in the society around her. Describing her situation growing up as the only girl child in her family, Sandra Cisneros uses the character of Esperanza to point out the injustices where men behave differently and do not want their women to be empowered.
Cisneros, Sandra, and Martha Satz. "Returning to One's House: An Interview with Sandra Cisneros." Southwest Review 82.2 (Spring 1997). Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Anna J. Sheets. Vol. 32. Detroit: Gale, 1999. Literature Resource Center. Web. 3 Apr. 2016.
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