The House on Mango Street

The House on Mango Street

Publisher
Arte P├║blico Press

Date Published
1984

Genre
Realistic Fiction

Pages
110

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros highlights the life of a poor twelve year old girl by the name of Esperanza. This book is a realistic fiction novel that models the life of American minorities in an ethnic neighborhood. This book is relevant because of the point of view given. The book is written through the perspective of Esperanza who undergoes puberty through the story. In the process, expressions such as the need to escape and self definition are present which is commonly found among girls her age. The story is studied for the analyzation of the emotions Esperanza goes through since most people can probably relate to her in some way. The story also brings to life the reality of gender conflict and association.

Plot Summary

This book is about a Mexican-American girl named Esperanza (about 12 years of age) who moves in with her family into a Latino on Mango Street. Her family is apparently poor for this is the first real house she ever sees. The book's plot represents Esperanza's point of view as she lives one year in the neighborhood and experiences pubertal changes. She befriends two other girls of similar status named Lucy and Rachel after letting them borrow money to buy a bike. Together, they have many childish adventures such as walking around in high heel shoes, playing other games, etc. However, the way that the other boys and older men see them reflect their age.

That summer, their age catches up with their actions and thoughts as they mature in a sexual sense. Esperanza obtains a crush, she observes the older women, and two of her relatives die. She grows closer to the adult world. Then she befriends a friend named Sally. Sally, however, uses her sex to escape her abusive father and the world. When Sally abandons Esperanza, Esperanza is sexually assaulted and vows to leave Mango street. Esperanza writes to help her escape her emotions. She finds out that Mango Street has become a permanent part of her past.

Characters

There aren't too many significant characters in the book other than Esperanza's friends. Since the book is written in the point of view of the main character, and Esperanza herself is not entirely gregarious, the characters are either portrayed as static or highly significant.

Esperanza

Esperanza is the main character and the narrator of the book. Everything that occurs in the story is written in her point of view. Esperanza is a twelve year old Mexican-American girl whose family is very poor but able to afford a small house on Mango Street. Esperanza throughout the book matures both emotionally and physically. Her depictions of the various events reflect Esperanza's desire to leave the street as fast as possible. In order to escape her troubles, Esperanza results to writing.

Friends

Cathy: Esperanza's very first friend in the new neighborhood. She moves away after a week, so she has little influence over the story.

Lucy and Rachel: Rachel and Lucy are Esperanza's first long term friends and they represent Esperanza's childhood life. They are Esperanza's age. These two have helped her get through the first half of the book and have helped Esperanza mature emotionally.

Sally: Sally is Esperanza's later more sexually mature friend. She is the same age, but she goes out with boys too often. Esperanza adores Sally, however Sally abandons Esperanza and Esperanza is sexually assaulted. She runs of with a man and ends up marrying him, and Esperanza deems her a bad friend and a poor choice on her part.

Other Characters

Marin: Marin is a young woman who lives with her cousin's family. Marin is responsible for telling Esperanza and her friends about the opposite gender.

Meme Ortiz: Meme's real name is Juan, and he moves into Cathy's house.

Louie: Louie is one of Marin's cousins who is friends with Esperanza's brothers. He is arrested for stealing a car with one of his other cousins.

Uncle Nacho: Esperanza's uncle who convinces Esperanza to dance at her cousin's baptism.

Aunt Lupe: She is Esperanza's aunt who is blind and bed-ridden. Aunt Lupe encourages Esperanza to write more poems.

Ruthie: She is a neighbor to Esperanza and although she is an adult, she enjoys playing with Esperanza and her friends.

Rafaela: Another neighbor whose husband locks her up in the house so she doesn't run away. Esperanza and her friends buy her juices from the convenient store with money that Rafaela sends down from the apartment.

Minerva: A matron two years older than Esperanza. She and Esperanza share poems with one another, and Minerva is the character most like Esperanza in the novel.

Tito: Tito is a sexually abusive boy who flirts with Esperanza by pushing her into a fire hydrant. Later, he steals Sally's keys so she would kiss him and his friends. For this, Esperanza feels betrayed.

Sire: Sire is the first person Esperanza feels sexually inclined towards. He already has a girlfriend by the name of Lois. Esperanza's parents warn her not to become affiliated with Sire because he is a punk and is sexually abusive.

Setting

This novel takes place in the neighborhood of Mango Street, a poor sector in the suburbs of Chicago. Many of the people there are of minority decent. Esperanza moves into her first actual house on this street, yet she finds the whole living conditions repulsive. Esperanza feels almost ashamed of way she lives because she knows her family is poor, and she lacks material items. The house does not reflect Esperanza's dream, and she wishes to leave Mango Street as quick as possible. The setting adds pressure and desire to escape to Esperanza making the point of view seem urgent.

Themes

The primary themes for The House on Mango Street are self identity and trying to find peace of mind.

The theme of self identity is the most prominent theme of the book. As Esperanza struggles through her pubertal changes, she attempts to find out who she is in the world as well as define her purpose and dreams. Such thoughts are not atypical for a girl of her age. Esperanza must express herself through her poems in order to define herself. Just as well, Esperanza must also define herself as a woman. Her negative experiences with men force her to look upon herself, and when she finds Sally marrying early, Esperanza finds no desire for such things.

Finding peace of mind has to deal with Esperanza having to deal with all of the things happening around her. Esperanza's maturity causes all sorts of problems for her when men are present. Also, her desire to leave Mango Street further presses her anxieties. In order to cope with all the emotional stresses, Esperanza writes poems.

Work Cited

Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. New York: Vintage, 1991.

"SparkNotes: The House on Mango Street." SparkNotes: Today&#039;s Most Popular Study Guides. 07 Jan. 2009 <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/mangostreet/>.

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