The House On Mango Street by Cisneros highlights the challenges facing women in a male-dominated society through the observational writing and most importantly the life of Esperanza whom Cisneros chooses as her protagonist. As a young female, Esperanza continually struggles to gain identity in the patriarchal community in which she lives. Since their experience can shape children's character, Cisneros chose to base her story from the perspective of an adolescent. In the first chapter, Esperanza introduces the six members of her family- her papa, her mama, Nenny her younger sister and Carlos and Kiki her younger brothers but doesn't present herself as she is still struggling to come up with a name and an identity for herself (Cisneros 3). At this point, the story she tells us is more about her memories and observations.
The major problems that Esperanza observes and writes about throughout her life include abuse, oppression, and victimization which result from the male-controlled values that are present in her community. This experiences fuels up her writing consequently enabling her to find her own identity. Bloom, through his scholarly article that evaluates The House On The Mango Street approves this idea when he states that "It is from these encounters with the lives of her fellow Chicanas that Esperanza was able to evade this fate as she matures" (96). As an adolescent, Esperanza is unable to detach herself from the culture entirely. However, she was able to resist the patriarchal values and eventually gains the ability to withstand unjust treatment. To her, the experiences from her fellow Chicana's enabled her to understand that, for her to be free from the patriarchal limitations as an adult, this woman had to resist this culture. When Esperanza says that she would tell us a story of a lassie who wanted not to fit (Cisneros 109), she vows to narrate her life's story, her experiences, her quest for identity as well as her maturation. As a girl, Esperanza knows something is wrong, and for that, she does not want to belong.
Esperanza's unwillingness to conform to the culture of the community she lives in results to her struggles in finding her identity. Her battles in the text are as a result of her unwillingness and inability to accept the challenges that come with living in the male-controlled community. Her failure to resonate with the customs of her culture denied her the opportunity to self-identity. Esperanza ended up being alienated. Esperanza's idea of isolation is exacerbated by the fact that she is a Mexican racially, though intellectually a Mexican American; as a juvenile adolescent, Esperanza is encircled by ill-treated, worn-out and helpless females, but she ought to be a free woman (Valdes 57). The numerous examples of abused and overpowered women sparked Esperanza's desperate feeling for the need to be free. In her feelings of loneliness, Esperanza ponders about the fact that there is no one around her that she can associate with, and she yearns for the day that she shall come across someone to whom she can connect. Esperanza says that, until she meets that person she can relate to she will be a balloon, a red balloon tangled to an anchor (Cisneros 9). Esperanza as well contemplates of adopting a unique name that feels like the unique her, the her that not one person sees (Cisneros 10). This quote not only suggests her loneliness but also her desire for the opportunity to be more like herself, that person in her seen by no one as it is atypical of her community's culture. Esperanza acknowledges the fact that she is different from other women in her town, she feels that this is the reason as to why no one understands her. It is also clear that Esperanza's lack of friends is not because she can't make any but because it is hard for her to be part of them. She declines to become a dupe of victimization, oppression, and abuse like the rest of the women depicted in her community.
Majority of the males in the text are depicted as cruel, repressive or manipulative. While females are contrastingly represented as dupes; they are abused not only mentally but also physically. The abuse doesn't not only affect the women physically but emotionally as well, and its effects are equally devastating. An example of emotional maltreat in the novel is the instance when Esperanza recounts a woman by the name Minerva who has many problems the biggest one being her husband who has already left and kept leaving (Cisneros 84). Minerva's mother also experienced the same difficulties that Minerva is currently experiencing. As indicated in the text, Minerva's mother brought up the kids alone, and it's very likely that her daughter will have to go the same way as well (Cisneros 84). In an attempt to end the emotional abuse, Minerva tries to rid herself of her man, but she fails. However, she one day manages to let her husband know that enough is enough, as per the text, but after husbands apologize, and once again Minerva opens the door (Cisneros 85). This exemplifies the idea of the abuse cycle. The following week Minerva comes over black and blue and wonders if there is anything that she could do (Cisneros 85). No matter how hard Minerva wants to free herself, it becomes hard for her. Out of hopelessness that Minerva feels, she declares that there is nothing left for her to do.
Minerva is a victim of abuse in the male-controlled Hispanic culture. As suggested by the text, women abuse is not only limited to wives but also daughters and little girls. An example of this idea in the novel is Esperanza's observation of the life a girl named Sally. Because Sally is afraid of telling the truth about her abusive father, she ends up making excuses regarding him. As Esperanza notes, Sally says his father never hits her hard (Cisneros 92). Although Sally confesses being beaten by her abusive father, she still supports him. The action of the mums in the text is inappropriate. The mothers make an effort to ease the pain and whitewash the evidence instead of taking the right course of action and stop the abuse. An excellent example from the text is when Sally's mother rubs lard all over the hurting places (Cisneros 92). Women are afraid of standing up to men for their children and their sake as well. As the text proposes, ill-treat of women is a disturbing issue within the confines of the Hispanic community. As a result of not being valued nor respected, women in the text feel like hopeless victims.
The first step to Esperanza's declaration for her freedom is marked by Cisneros letting her write about her experiences. However, Esperanza responds positively to these challenges as she writes about her experiences. She instead uses the lessons to fuel up her maturation. To Esperanza, allowing herself to be a subject of those abusive experiences was not an option for her at any given moment. Upon reflecting on the human brutality and hostility of wife-beating, Valdes agrees with the fact that for the women to break themselves out of the ill-treated circle, it will undoubtedly take them strong willpower to speak against it and evade it but not hatred or violence. It is a result of how ladies in the script are handled that Esperanza behaves as she does especially when responding to the attention given to her by boys.
Esperanza gives very little interest to boys. This is contrary to her observations from other girls in the text. Many of them long dearly for attention from boys and are very concerned about how they look. In the script, one of the girls says that the boys seeing the girls and the girls seeing the boys is all that matters (Cisneros 27). As it appears in the text, women's aspirations are narrowed to marriage, since to them marriage likens to stability and security; in other words, through marriage women are well attended. The same girl referred to above is again described by Esperanza as seen dancing under the streetlamp, waiting for a star to fall or a car drop by or even someone to turn around her life (Cisneros 27). Hopping a man will come and take her with him, this young girl waits around. The behavior of this girl can be attributed to what she has grown to think of males through her observation of the patriarchal culture. As Esperanza recounts an old lady named Ruthie, she states that Ruthie could have been anything she would have wanted to (Cisneros 68). It is for the sake of her marriage the Ruthie gave up her dreams as Esperanza explains and instead got married to and moved away to a lovely home away from the city (Cisneros 69). According to the text, this comprises part the major problems experienced by the Hispanic culture and its one which Esperanza potently resists. Esperanza conducts herself in a way that is typically in contrast with that of the woman living around her. Esperanza's behavior that focuses her in the direction entailing independence enables her to resist the patriarchal culture efficiently.
Raising children and taking care of the home is what is believed as the primary responsibilities of a woman in the patriarchal society consequently making women depend on men financially. Esperanza appropriately responds to this by realizing the need for her to get a job at an early age. At her young age, she takes the initiative to get herself a job, and thus she would be able to care for herself without depending on men. The text, all the same, suggests that it hard for her to find a job. She expresses that, it is not that she never wanted to work. She did. A month earlier, she had even gone to the security agency to get her social security number (Cisneros 53). This illustrates Esperanza's great eagerness, desire and willingness to get employment. Majority of the women that Esperanza had observed were almost entirely reliant on men. Unlike many women who are financially at the mercies of men, Esperanza takes a big leap towards independence.
The steps of Esperanza towards independence are primarily influenced by her experiences in the community in which she lived. She finds her identity as she writes about the various observations she had in her city. Out of these experiences, Esperanza was able to grow. The idea is supported by Christina Rose Dubb (220) when she states that the text is like a chronicle of a few years of the life of Esperanza in her Chicano community. This is as she transforms from the innocence associated with girlhood to the stunning understanding of unfairness resulting from sexual based inequality, socioeconomic disparities, and violence. Esperanza is no more of a naive and lost girl. Instead, Esperanza is growing up and understanding the importance the problems surrounding her. She was able to grow into her realization as a young teenager. Through her writing, she could get an escape. All these experiences that were coming to her as a teen gave her the ability to free herself and give shape to her individuality.
There are much promise and power that comes from being young, and that's why Cisneros chooses her protagonist as an adolescent female while writing her novel. Esperanza's interactions with and observations of the Hispanic community which she lived in enable her to grow through her childhood to maturity. Through her connections with other people, Esperanza's was able to learn herself as well as her culture (Karafilis 66). Through freeing herself from the victimization typical to her community through her writing, she can be able to release other women. Her experiences through writing and observations eventually enable her to grow into adulthood well-armed with knowledge and experience that would ultimately let her bring in a change.
After an in-depth observation of the Hispanic culture that she is brought up in, Esperanza concludes that she won't for any reason be like the rest of the women in her community. She declines to fit...
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