The House On Mango Street Literary Analysis Essay

An Analysis of The House on Mango Street

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An Analysis of The House on Mango Street


In the novel, The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros describes the problems that Latino women face in a society that treats them as second class citizens. A society that is dominated by men, and a society that values women for what they look like, and not for what is on inside. In her Novel Cisneros wants us to envision the obstacles that Latino women must face everyday in order to be treated equally.


    In the Book women are looked upon as objects by men whether they are boyfriends, friends fathers or husbands. The girls in the novel grow up with the mentality that looks and appearance are the most important things to a woman. Cisneros also shows how Latino women are expected to be loyal to their husbands, and that a husband should have complete control of the relationship. Yet on the other hand, Cisneros describes the character Esperanza as being different. Even though she is born and raised in the same culture as the women around her, she is not happy with it, and knows that someday she will break free from its ties, because she is mentally strong and has a talent for telling stories. She comes back through her stories by showing the women that they can be independent and live their own lives. In a way this is Cinceros' way of coming back and giving back to the women in her community.


    The Latino women and girls in the novel are extremely concerned about their appearances, because they feel that if they aren't attractive then they won't be noticed by men, and they are raised to believe that they need a man to fulfil their life, and that they need a husband to support them, and if they don't look attractive then they are not going to be noticed, and if they are not noticed, then they think they won't end up getting married. A good example of this is Marin. When Marin talks about a real job Marin says that the best place to work is downtown, not because of the work that is there, but because "you always get to look beautiful and were nice clothes." She also tells the girls that the only thing that matters is if your skirts are short, and your eyes are pretty, so that you are noticed by guys.

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"An Analysis of The House on Mango Street." 11 Mar 2018

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Cisneros is showing us again that the only values that these Latino woman have are the values placed upon them by men, and these values are observed by little girls w!

ho think this is the right way of doing things, and therefore the idea of women being independent is never heard of, until girls like Esperanza have hopes of leaving her male controlled society, and becoming independent, only to one day hope of coming back to teach others that they don't have to be dependent on men.


    The symbolic importance of the clothes to they girls is shown one day when the girls are given a bag of high heeled shoes that Esperanza calls "magic high-heels." When the girls put on the shoes they felt like Cinderella. They spend time learning how to cross and uncross their legs and how to walk down to the corner "so that the shoes talk back to you with every step." Esperanza says that "the men can't take their eyes off us," The girls don't seem to mind this treatment either. They enjoy it, because they are too young to understand that they are being treated as objects, not people.   


    In the chapter, "Sally", Cisneros describes a girl that she admires but doesn't explain anything about her besides her looks. Esperanza describes her as having "eyes like Egypt, and nylons the color of smoke." You can tell that Esperanza is very envious of Sally, and would like to have smoky nylons , and have black suede shoes. Even though Esperanza knows that Sally will probably be headed for a life of difficulties because of her grown-up looks, Esperanza sees herself as the "the ugly daughter" and sometimes settles for being the "one nobody comes for."


    Throughout the novel we see that Latino women think that their purpose in life is to find a male companion and to get married . In a way this is the Cisneros version of the "Pretty trap ,"because the girls have been taught by society that being pretty is a talent that can get them somewhere in life. In describing Marin, for example, Cisneros explains that Marin is standing on the street "waiting for a car to stop, a star to fall, someone to change her life." In other words, if you are a woman you need a man to make your life worthwhile. Esperanza has determined not to grow up like the other girls, and she refuses to be dominated by men.


    However, Cisneros shows many examples of women getting married and end up being owned by their husbands. She describes women who are prisoners in their own homes, who look out the window their whole lives. Sally is a good example. Sally, who is been kept inside her whole life, gets married before eighth grade. She gets married to get away from all the troubles she has with her father. "She says, she's in love but I think she did it to escape," says Esperanza. Sally also has a home and things of her own now. Her husband, however, does not let her talk on the phone, visit with friends or look out the window. Her days are spent alone looking at all the things that they own. " The Towels and toaster, and alarm clock and drapes." Esperanza realizes that although Sally now has all the material things a husband can provide, her life is not worth very much because she is trapped in a room with nothing to do, except look at the things that she owns.


    Cisneros tells us about Rafaela, whose husband locks her indoors because he is afraid that she will run away. She is young, and dreams that she has hair like Rapunzel's. With this comparison, Cisneros tells us that Rafaela is waiting to be rescued. Instead Rafaela sits in her home listening to music from the bar down the street, hoping to go there someday to dance. She too has traded her freedom for a husband. Now that she is not able to buy herself a drink from the store. She is "getting old from leaning out her window."


    Cisneros indicates that some of the Hispanic man abuse their wives. Minerva is a woman Cisneros says is being abused. She says that Minerva cries "because her luck is unlucky." She has many problems in life, the biggest one being her husband. Even though she throws him out, she takes him back in , and the cycle starts all over again only to end up the same way it started. She is all black and blue, and asks "What can I do."


    Even though Cisneros portrays most of the Latino women in these male dominated ways, she wants her readers to know that Esperanza is different. In the chapter "My name," she tells us that her grandmother had the same name, and that she admires her grandmother because she was " a wild horse of a woman," like her Grandmother Esperanza was born in the year of the horse, and that signifies strength. Esperanza feels that she will grow up to be a strong woman, and she is determined to leave Mango Street and lead her own life. Cisneros lets us know that as much as Esperanza admires her grandmother she is determined not to "inherit her place by the window."


    In the chapter "Beautiful Cruel," Esperanza makes this clear by saying "but I have decided not to grow up tame like the others who lay their necks on the thresh-hold waiting for the ball and chain." She has started her own was. She says "I am the one who leaves the table like a man, without putting back the chair or picking up the plate the." In the last chapter she lets us know how she plans to become her own woman, because she has the ability to tell stories. She is different and can part with life on Mango Street. She is strong enough to go away, but she knows she will return through her writing to help weaker woman who "cannot get out."


    Cisneros uses the book The House on Mango Street to show that you acquire the beliefs of others around you , and when you never have a chance to get to know all the aspects of life you can't imagine a better life for yourself, when you don't know what to imagine. She creates the character Esperanza to show us that that every once in a while one person can be different, and try to make their life better, and the lives of others better.


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Sites about The House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros

Critical sites about The House on Mango Street

The "Dual"-ing Images of la Malinche and la Virgen de Guadalupe in Cisneros's The House on Mango Street
This essay discusses how Cisneros handles the dualing archetypes present in the Mexican psyche: that of the woman who has kept her virginity and that of the one who has lost it
Contains: Content Analysis
Author: Leslie Petty
From:MELUS Summer, 2000
Reading the Neighborhood: Community as Text in The House on Mango Street
"To read Patrocinio Schweickart's "Toward a Feminist Theory of Reading" along with Sandra Cisnero's The House on Mango Street is to extend "text" to community. For example, Esperanza, the narrator, can "read" the neighborhood in a manner similar to Schweickart's reader reading a literary text. Esperanza and some other women in the book took control of their experience, while others were manipulated by traditional neighborhood values. This paper is an exploration of extending the notion of text to community, specifically the Mango Street neighborhood that Esperanza "reads" and interprets."
Author: Nancy Zuercher
From:Women in Literature and Life Assembly Vol. 6 Fall 1997

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