The House on Mango Street: Literary Analysis

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  2033 Words
Date:  2021-03-05

The House on Mango Street: Cultural Barriers and the American Dream

The House on Mango Street expresses the cultural barriers to that many encounter in their quest to sustain the American Dream. Immigrant communities which keep their Chicana root continue to preserve unique traditions. Cisneros demonstrates how many of the traditions and struggles alight from them. Particularly, Cisneros's main concern is to chart the struggles of a girl for selfhood. She does this by analysing and exploring how an individual makes a choice of accepting or not accepting his/her community, circumstances, and family. In the entire novel, Esperanza, who is the main character, desperately and whimsically insists that she has to own her own house. She also wants to become a writer, and thus, she has to struggle, given the poor nature of her family to achieve what she really wants. As the novel portrays, these two needs are purely inseparable. From the narrative, it can be deduced that the house that she craves for is a symbolization of writing, or a place that plays an enormous role in accomplishing it. As ones reads through the book, it is vivid that being a writer, and in turn owning a house are Esperanza's prerequisites to self-identity and freedom. Ideally, she seeks self-empowerment through writing, while recognizing her commitment to a community of Chicanas (Yarboro-Bejarano 141). However, before achieving these two goals in her life, she goes through a lot of problems and struggles. In addition, in her pursuit for these two objectives in her life. Esperanza has a diversity of female role models in her life. Similarly, many are trapped in abusive relationships, waiting for others to change their lives. Owing to these women and Esperanza's reactions to them, Cisneros not only shows the troubles that women face but also explores their power to overcome them. As such, it is evident that before achieving their dreams, women experience a lot of challenges, but as Cisneros portrays, all what is required is persistence and working on the goals.

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The Symbolism of the House: Writing, Self-Identity, and Freedom

At the beginning of the novel, Cisneros portrays Esperanza as pitiable. She does not own a good house, and lives a poor life. For instance, the nun who approaches here is baffled and scoffs at the very instant that she learns where Esperanza resides. The nun makes comments, you live there. A nun does not have any wealth nor possessions, and thus, for a woman of that status to pity someone, then it ought to be serious. As such, this proves that she lived in really poor conditions. In their dialogue, we also learn that Esperanza has a negative memory in relation to the house of Mango Street as shameful and embarrassing locale. In addition, the personification and feminization of the Mango Street is a symbolization of the entire women group that holds them back from conquering their goals and objectives in life. For instance, the narrator is seen to reveal her incapacity to relate to others within the community she lives in. It is evident as she wishes that someday I will have a best friend all my own. One I can tell my secrets to.... Until then I am a red balloon, a balloon tied to an anchor (Cisneros 9). This proves that the house in Mango Street adversely affects the ambitions her ambitions, and only after moving out will she achieve them.

Therefore, her mission of taking a flight can be compared to the metaphor of a balloon that has been tied to an anchor, it cannot move unless the balloon is released from the anchor. The anchor is representative to the heavy weight exerted on her by the community, as well as the familial duties, the racial and gender challenges that she faces. However, Esperanza does not let this come between her hunt to achieve her ambitions. Her ancestors had previously followed that path but ended up not succeeding in life. Also, she is aware of all what is happening in her community. For instance, she sees Cathy leave the Mango Street neighbourhood, and also makes her realize how it was changing, and therefore strengthens her believe that there is a possibility that she and her family could leave, and therefore, Cathys move out of the neighbourhood makes her yearn more of the thought of leaving. She is Esperanza's friend, and further reveals the struggle that women pass through when she utter, Don't talk to them, `says Cathy. Can't you see they smell like a broom? (Cisneros 14) ''

She decides not to follow that path because from her viewpoint they all failed. For this reason, she decides to follow the American dream, outside her community and the house in Mango Street. She is for the assertion that living outside the impoverished house will be safer and will instil a sense of belonging. As such, in order to pursue the dream, she has to let go of the Mango Street and her Chicano community. One way of doing so is learning English because she believes that learning the language will be important is eliminating the language barrier that exists between her and the outsiders. Hence, Esperanza finds her literary voice through her own cultural experience and that of other Chicanas (Yarboro-Bejarano 141).

Esperanza's Dual Identity and the Search for Belonging

Essentially, Esperanza thinks aloud pertaining to her identity, particularly in her naive and subconscious ways. Primarily, she is Chicana or American by birth, however, she is Mexican when it comes to parentage. As such, she considers herself to have dual identity, which paves way to her perception of two possibilities of anything that she come upon. For example, her name was originally an English word that meant hope; in Spanish, however, it had a negative connotation. It meant too many letters waiting and sadness. It can be deduced that she realizes that Culture and society provide cradles for the seedling narratives of the many, as well as unconditional unendorsements of the idea of the narratives (Moldoveanu 55). Also, she is alienated from her mother culture, alien in the dominant culture, the woman of color does not feel safe within the inner life of her Self. Petrified, she cant respond, her face caught between los intersticios, the spaces between the different worlds she inhabits (Anzaldua 20). -1790700762000For this reason, she liked a new name, and thereby changed it to Esperanza in order to recreate herself from scratch, and in turn build a house that would define her. In essence, the book acts as a path that guides her through her hardships and symbolizes the book of stories that she really wants to write, as well as the freedom to successfully express herself.

The Impact of Mango Street and the Desire for Escape

According to Moldoveanu Culture defends us from the realization of our own freedom because it creates environment of ontological security. (p. 43). These are revealed by Esperanzas mentors, who demonstrated the many reasons as to why Esperanza wanted to leave Mango Street. For example, Ruthie had not left Mango Street. She asserts, Only thing I can't understand is why Ruthie is living on Mango Street if she doesn't have to. As such, this makes her think that if she had been given the chance to leave she would have taken it. Other examples include the four skinny trees who were four women just like Esperanza, were forced to become adults. These women included Minerva, Mamacita, Rafaela, and Sally. For instance, Sally reveals to Esperanza of the scary things that adults go through, which scares her and makes her want to stay young, and thus, makes her want to leave the Mango Street more. It influences Esperanza to a great extent because she is closest to her.

Struggles, Challenges, and the Persistence Required to Achieve Dreams

Also, Sally represents the struggles women go through in the path to adulthood. For example, Sally is so beautiful that her father says it is trouble. Actually, for his father, it his more than trouble, it is life-threatening. In instances when he catches her looking sideways, he beats her, but this forces her to turn to sex (Kuribayashi, 174). In addition, since Mamacita came but does not leave the house, she always says Ay! Mamacita, who does not belong, every once in a while lets out a cry, hysterical, high, as if he had torn the old skinny thread that had kept her alive, the only road out to that country (Cisneros 78). This Mamacitas statement makes Esperanza realize how she really want to leave Mango Street, and thereby making her to yearn leaving the place even more. Rafael, who also plays a significant role in the book teaches Esperanza a lot, and still showcases the struggles that women go through the society in the quest to better their lives. In essence, she was married at a young age. Esperanza is being pushed to do so, and therefore, she works hard to leave the Mango Street so that she does not fall prey to the same scenario. In essence, a Woman is insecure whenever her own culture, and white culture, are critical of her; when the males of all races hunt her as prey (Anzaldua, 20). Also, Rafaela is mistreated by her husband, and also does not let her leave. They even talk to her via the window, which makes Esperanza scared, and also how she is potentially getting trapped. This enlightens her to take steps to redeem herself. In Minerva's case, she is married and has kids. Minerva's husband always traps her in the house whenever he leaves, making her hate her life, and therefore, this makes Esperanza think about how trapped she will be if she decides staying in Mango Street.

However, the house on Mango Street is of better quality compared to the third floor of Loomis, which is where she lived before. Therefore, that improvement reveals that she and her family are trying to make their lives better, and thus, serves as an indication that they will soon own a better house. For instance, she describes the third floor house as, The house on Mango Street is ours and we don't have to pay rent to anybody or share the yard with people downstairs or be careful not to make too much noise and there isn't a landlord banging on the ceiling with a broom (Cisneros 3). The family, as Esperanza narrates about her dream house, she states, the house Papa talked about when he held a lottery ticket, (Cisneros 4) and it is the house Mama dreamed up in the stories she told them before bedtime (Cisneros 4).

Many people saw the Mango Street as a dangerous place that had many corrupted individuals and would harm anyone, especially women. For instance, Esperanza says, those who don't know any better come into our neighbourhood scared. They think we're dangerous. They think we will attack them with shiny knives. They are stupid people who are lost and got here by mistake (Cisneros 29).'' As such, even though other people considered the place dangerous, Esperanza and her family continued staying there, meaning that they had to struggle a lot as anyone considered the place unsafe. In addition, everyone at Mango Street strived to better their lives without any help from anyone. For instance, Esperanza mentions, people who live on hills sleep so close to the stars they forget those of us who live too much on earth. They don't look down at all except to be content to live on hills. They have nothing to do with last week's garbage or fear of rats. (Cisneros 77)'' As such, it provides evidence that the rich and the poor had a huge gap socially, and indeed, they hardly mixed, thus no help would be granted by the rich to the poor people residing in Mango Street. Also, the rich lived on the hills, meaning that they were separated from the poor, who likened them as rats. Therefore, this further provides evidence as to why those living in Mango Street struggled, no one would help them better themselves. In turn, Esperanza could not take it anymore, and had to work hard in order to better her life and that of her family. Ideally, those who have money do not care or bother with those who are poor, primarily because they have a happy life in their big houses without worrying about paying bills. In addition, the rich were so cruel to Chicanas because they moved away whenever the...

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