Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street (1984)

 

Sandra Cisneros (born 1954)

      Born in Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago to Spanish-speaking Mexican father and English-speaking mother of Mexican descent.

      Part of a prominent group of Chicana (Americans of Mexican descent) and Latina (Americans of Latin descent) writers such as Gloria Anzaldua, Laura Esquivel and Julia Alvarez.

      Criticized for betraying the barrio (Mexican-speaking neighborhood), assimilating, and perpetuating negative stereo-types of Mexican men. 

 

The House on Mango Street (1984)

In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting.

She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldnít be all the things she wanted to be. Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I donít want to inherit her place by the window.

 

      Esperanza, a 12 years old Chicana, moves with her family into a house on Mango Street. Though it is the first house the family owns, itís a run-down house and it doesnít provide the protagonist with the privacy she needs. She therefore decides to leave the barrio.

      Esperanza makes friends among her classmates and they are all on the verge of puberty as they explore the world around them.

      Over the summer, maturing sexually and losing two members of her family, Esperanza moves into the world of adults.

      After the summer vacation, Esperanza befriends a girl who is more sexually mature that her previous friends and this results in Esperanza being sexually abused by a few boys as her new friend is not there to rescue her.

      Her exposure to the world of adults combined with her experience of being abandoned to assaulting boys by her friend lead her to want to leave the barrio.

      Soon, however, she finds that it is only through writing that she can actually leave the barrio.

      In one year, the duration of the plot, Esperanza grows up into a woman who decides to write as a way of escaping her neighborhood.

 

More

      Novel is made of what Cisneros calls Ďlazy poems,í neither poems nor short stories, short, to reflect the young protagonistís short attention span.

      Conflict is not resolved as the fates of those in the barrio arenít resolved. The stories are also unresolved as they lack an omniscient male narrative voice to tell them, in the same way that womenís lives in the barrio are unresolved without a man to depend on.