Free Study Guide for The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros|
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THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET BY SANDRA CISNEROS
Cisneros has said that she began writing "The House on Mango Street"
after reading about "the poetics of space" at the Iowa Writer’s
Workshop. There, she learned that everyone in the class but her understood
their consciousness in terms of "house" metaphors--the "house"
of memory, with its different rooms, for example. Cisneros, who moved
repeatedly as a child and never really felt that she belonged to the dingy
houses she lived in, rejected these ideas. However, "Mango"
is very much about the search for identity, as symbolized by Esperanza’s
search for a house. When she is ashamed of her house, she is ashamed of
herself. Even toward the end of the book, she says her "real"
house exists only in a dream--much like her "real" identity,
which consists of her fantasies and images from movies. However, by the
book’s conclusion, she has found her own, real strength, and has also
come to accept that the house is part of her. At first, she wants a new
house just so that she will not be ashamed to point it out to people.
Later, she wants a house where she can write---something she has come
to identify as a source of power. She also appears to understand the cause
of the condition of Mango Street: city neglect. She is therefore less
inclined to identify it with failure, and with herself.
Although Esperanza does not discuss love directly, the many different
kinds of love portrayed in the book help to characterize each member of
the Mango Street neighborhood. Esperanza demonstrates her love for her
father when she comforts him after his own father dies. She herself is
comforted by the love of her mother, as she sleeps beside her or listens
to her advice. She loves her sister Nenny, even though she finds her annoying
sometimes. Her romantic ideas about what love is are challenged by the
relationships between Minerva and her undependable husband, or Sally’s
wedding at the eighth grade, or the element of danger that surrounds Sire
and Lois. Esperanza must confront her feelings about her aunt, who offers
her love and supports her writing, after she ridicules her aunt on the
day she dies.
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. 09 May 2017