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The House on Mango Street
Transcript of The House on Mango Street
Themes - Gender Roles & Expectations
The themes that were assigned to our group are gender roles and expectations. These two themes were relevant in all our several vignettes that were assigned for our group. Gender roles are the social and behavioral norms that are genreally considered more appropriate for either a man or a woman in a social or interpersonal relationship, while expectations are strong beliefs that something will happen in the future.
The assigned vignettes for our group included "Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark", "Born Bad", "Elenita, Cards, Palm, Water", "Geraldo No Last Name", "Edna's Ruthie", "The Earl of Tennessee", and "Sire". All of these vignettes have the theme of gender roles and/or expectations in each. The narrator throughout all of these vignettes is Esperanza, a young girl who lives on Mango Street.
"Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark"
In this vignette, Esperanza witnesses her father's first breakdown when he tells her that his father (her abuleito) has died. Being the oldest child, Esperanza is expected to tell her younger brothers the news and to explain to them why they should keep quiet and cannot play that day. He explains to Esperanza that he will have to fly back to Mexico for the funeral. Her father cries in front of her for the very first time, and lays down on her bed to rest. Esperanza watches her father, and wonders what she would do if she lost her hardworking father. She says that she would have held her papa in her arms if he had died, and holds him in an effort to comfort him. The themes shown her would be expectations because Esperanza is expected to tell the children, and Esperanza did not expect her father to cry.
Esperanza as well as Rachel and Lucy pray for each other and themselves for playing a game that involved mimicking Esperanza's ill Aunt Guadalupe right before she died. Before Esperanza was born, her aunt was a strong and beautiful swimmer, as well as a wife and mother of two. The "evil day" her mother refers to is Esperanza's birth and the day her aunt had suddenly gotten sick. Her aunt became blind, and her limbs useless. Being bed ridden, Esperanza would come over to read to her aunt. One day she reads Aunt Lupe a poem of her own, and her aunt responds with "That's very good... You just remember to keep writing, Esperanza... It will keep you free". Her aunt soon dies, and she and the other children are filled with incurable guilt for the game. The themes present here would be gender roles when Aunt Lupe tells Esperanza that her writing will set her free, most likely from being expected to be a traditional woman who stays home, cleans, cooks, and takes care of/has children. Her poem also describes her "jumping out of her own skin", maybe showing her wish to not be just another girl and to stand out from the rest.
"Elenita, Cards, Palm, Water"
Esperanza goes to Elenita, the "witch woman" in the neighborhood and mother of two children who can tell fortunes for a couple of dollars. Esperanza wants to find out if she will ever have a home of her own, and Elenita responds with the dissapointing answer "a home in the heart", a metaphor for Esperanza's self identity and independence, which is very important to her since she is the only girl in the family. This goes with the theme of gender roles. Expectations is another theme shown here when Esperanza expects a better, more specific answer than the one she got from Elenita.
"Geraldo No Last Name"
This vignette is about the death of a rather unknown man named Geraldo that Marin met one night at a dnace. He did not say much about himself, and described himself as "Green pants and Saturday shirt Geraldo" to her. He dies after the dancedue to a hit-and-run accident, and Marin takes him to the hospital. Her efforts with the doctors and the police to help, save, and fully identify Geraldo are in vain when he dies and is left unknown. No one other than Marin seems to care about him just because he is another "wetback" from another foreign country. This bothers Marin immesnly since she constantly thinks "if only the surgeon had come sooner". Esperanza thinks of his family back in Mexico who financialy supported them, and imagines how the family will react when the checks don't arrive. The theme shown in this vignette is that of having expecations. Marin expects the police and the doctors to care about who he is like any normal person would, but considering the fact that Geraldo is an immigrant makes everything unimportant to them, causing them to care less about the man.
In this vignette, Esperanza describes Ruthie, a child-like lady who lives with her mother (the owner of three apartments, Edna) in Mango Street. Ruthie is Esperanza's (as well as the other children's) friend since she is the only grown up who likes to play. But Esperanza is puzzled on why Ruthie stays on Mango Street with her mother since she has a husband and most importantly, a house of her own, which Esperanza envies. Ruthie always claims that she is going back home the next weekend, but always ends up staying at Mango Street. The theme here would be that of gender roles. Normally, a husband and wife are suppose to live together, although Ruthie does not live with her husband. It is possible that Ruthie's marriage was a marriage gone bad.
"The Earl of Tennessee"
In this vignette, Esperanza talks about another neighbor, Earl. Earl is a southerner who lives in Edna's dusty basement who works nights as a jukebox repairman. During the day, he only emerges occasionally to yell at the children to be quiet, or to give them some of the old, musty 45 records that fill his apartment. Earl is the topic of neighborhood gossip because of a rumor he is married. Every once in a while, a woman is seen quickly and furtively entering the apartment with Earl. Although reports of who she is and what she looks like vary, the one universal piece of gossip is that she never stays long. The theme shown in this piece is similar to Ruthie's situatuon where she doesn't live with her spouse. Another theme that is present would be expectations, where the neighbors would expect Earl's wife live with his wife, or to at least have her stay a little bit longer.
Throughout this final vignette, Esperanza describes her own experience with a boy named Sire who lives in the neighborhood. Both of her parents believe that he is no good, although she cannot help but feel fascinated by him. Anytime she passes by his house and he is there, Sire stares at her. Like most girls would do, she ignores him and keeps on walking by. One day, she decides to stare right back at him as hard as glass, causing him to bump his bicycle into a parked car. She talks about Sire and his rather feminine and very pretty girlfriend Lois, and talks about Lois and Sire talking and laughing together. Esperanza wonders how it would be to one day sit outisde with a boy. The theme here is gender. This is evident throughout the description of Lois. Esperanza is practically the exact opposite of Lois and her feminity which probably makes her a bit envious, but even she mentions that Lois cannot tie her own shoes, but at least Esperanza herself can, giving her a bit of dignity and something that the seemingly perfect Lois can't do.
1.) METAPHOR : "A new house, a house made of heart." (Pg.64)
2.) REPITITION : "And maybe if the surgeon would have come, maybe if he hadn't lost so much blood, if the surgeon had only come." (Pg.66)
3.) IMAGERY : "Ruthie, tall skinny lady with red lipstick and blue babushka, one blue sock and one green." (Pg.67)
In conclusion, all of our vignettes have connected to either one or both of the themes. "Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark" talks about Esperanza's father grieving over the death of his father,. "Born Bad" discusses Esperanza's late Aunt Guadalupe as well as thethought of Esperanza herself going to hell for playing the game mimicking her Aunt Lupe. "Elenita, Cards, Palm, Water" talks about Esperanza's wonder on wheter she will have of house of her own or not with answers given to her in a fortune reading by a witch,."Geraldo No Last Name" was about Marin's brief encounter with an unknown man at a dance who dies with no identity nor a person to care for his loss. "Edna's Ruthie" is about Edna's daughter Ruthie, a child-like grown up who is friends with the children and has a house and a husband who, she never visits. "The Earl of Tennessee" discusses Earl's life on Mango Street and his mysterious wife who comes and goes."Sire" is about Esperanza's fascination with Sire, a punk in the neighborhood.
Personal Thoughts & Connections
Our group thought that these vignettes all had connections on everyday life in today's society. One of the connections with today that was present in both the vignettes was the theme of expectations. Many of us have high expectations, especially when we are young and are unaware of how the world really works. For example, we take a ton of classes with high credits and expect ourselves to manage those classes, but most of us barely can in all actuality. Many of us walk into the classroom with a burst of confidence with the expectation that we will miraculously pass a test that we haven't even studied for and expect to ace the test, which in all actuality turns out to have disastrous results. Personally, we thought that the vignettes were very interesting since they all discussed different people and events in the neighborhood in such a descriptive way, although it was difficult to find which themes related to which vignette. Overall, our assigned vignettes from Sandra Cisneros'
House on Mango Street
do relate to our current era and its adolescence.