The House on Mango Street

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The House on Mango Street

Question 1

The author, Sandra Cisneros, is able to provide an interesting narration on the experiences of the protagonist, Esperanza Cordero, as she grows in the city of Chicago amongst Puerto Ricans and the Chicanos. Esperanza Cordero is highly determined and enthusiastic to leave the impoverished Latina community living in her neighborhood. The author was effective and accurate in providing the audience with a collection of the issues that have plagued the minority communities living in the United States. It is evident of the presence of extensive social segregation and discrimination as illustrated by the divisions of the neighborhoods based on race, nationality, and more so cultural background.

Esperanza Cordero has hopes, dreams and desires, all of which are embodied by the house and more so the community living on “Mango Street.” She simply terms it as a house that she shares with other family members (Cisneros 29). He dislike for the house is due to its dilapidated nature and inadequacy to house a large family, which contradicts her initial expectations of an ideal house or home. In addition, the author has also been effective in the articulation of the gender roles assumed in Latina communities. The author was effective in her articulation of the role of culturally imposed constructs of gender in the creation of identities for both men and women.

Esperanza creates her identity from the abuse she experiences and socially accepted constructs of gender role for women and men in the Latina community. This infers that sexual violence against women is a common occurrence, with a large number of occurrences, which remain unreported and unresolved. Thus, the audience is able to understand the struggles faced by women in minority communities as they struggle to conform to new cultures while being subjected to traditional cultural constructs of gender identity.

Question 2

Esperanza experiences a struggle for creation of an identity of self, which emerges as one of the major themes in the novel. She struggles to create her identity, which underscores all decisions she makes. It is apparent that she must define herself as an artist and as a Mexican American woman living in a controversial setting. It is also evident that she is struggling with her transition from being a young girl into as woman, which must resonate with social expectations and constructs of gender.

At the start of the novel, Esperanza is contemplating changing her name such that she can choose a name that defines her character in terms that fit her desires, ambitions, and dreams rather than one that denotes her family lineage and heritage as a Mexican living in the United States. In addition, she has a desire to separate herself from the rest of the family namely her younger sister and parents, such that she is able to start a new life, with a name change being one of the starting points for such a change. As the novel moves into other chapters, Esperanza becomes aware of her sexual identity as a woman. She desires to be both “beautiful and cruel” such that the men may like her but not hurt her, which is pursued through a friendship she develops with Sally (Cisneros 51). After she is abused, she loses her identity and understanding of self due to the pain and confusion that emanates from the assault.

Ultimately, Esperanza opts to remain in the neighborhood with the name given to her by her family and in line with her cultural heritage. In addition, she stops forcing herself to develop sexually and accepts the socially constructed gender roles, which drives her to explore a career in writing. As a writer, she is able to interact with the world and make observations of the world. The racially fragmented society affirms her identity as a Latina woman, who drives her to accept issues such as abuse, discrimination, poverty, gender inequalities and crime that have plagued all the neighborhoods that are home to minority communities.

Question 3

The concept of family is manifested through the implicit gender roles that resonate with Latina heritage. The family setting is marked by stark contrasts in the identities for both men and women. The women are isolated and confined to domestic settings, with little hope to explore employment opportunities or education. On the other hand, the men or husbands are depicted as violent, exploitative, and absent. The men are portrayed as providers as well as propagators of violence against their wives and other family members, despite being tasked with providing protection to the family. Addition, the concept of family resonates with Latina culture, whereby it is common for an extended family to live together, given that majorities of them were Mexican immigrants who had moved to the country to explore new opportunities or the “American Dream” (Cisneros 36).

Question 4

Naming is an important theme in novel. The novel starts with Esperanza taking interest in her name as she contemplates escaping from her home and changing her name, which denotes her lineage and cultural heritage. It is also evident that some of the characters mentioned in the novel have both English and Spanish names. This is illustrative of that the community living on Mango Street is multicultural as they seek to become assimilated into American society. It is apparent that names play a critical role in the transformation and empowerment of individuals such as Esperanza who struggles with an identity crisis because of conflicting messages from the American and Latina cultures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

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

 

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