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Transcript of Sandra Cisneros
Analysis of Museum Artifacts
House on Mango Street
About a young Mexican girl, Esperanza-very similar to Cisneros
Both have similar experiences
Poverty, moving around a lot, not having many friends, retreating into the world of words and books.
Both want to be writers, were ashamed of house, and lack of money and wanted more than standard life of a Mexican woman
White picket fence represents hope for better futures for women of Mexican culture.
Cisneros was expected to be completely reliant on men in her life.
Mother, Elvira, encouraged Cisneros to not get held back by normal life of Mexican woman.
Elvira was too dependent on husband-but she made sure Cisneros had a chance.
Cisneros uncovers hidden struggles of women in her culture.
House on Mango Street
, female characters are held back by men.
Sally is abused by her father because of her beauty
To escape, she marries a traveling salesman but the abuse continues.
Esperanza herself is sexually abused by neighborhood boys, and this destroys her hope for happily ever after, with white fences and perfect lawns.
Sally and Esperanza's situations are common among Latin American women
But Cisneros and Esperanza want more for themselves.
Butter knife represents blunt language.
Never leaves anything out, doesn't sugarcoat words, makes sure she gets point across.
Says contradictory things
She says people call her a "boogey-woman lesbian."
She says she enjoys the compliment.
Cisneros doesn't mince her words.
Wants her opinion heard-uses strong diction to achieve this.
Blunt knife symbolizes blunt way of phrasing things.
Analysis of "Mexican in France"
Poem is about the narrator-Cisneros-visits France, and a Frenchman.
Frenchman wants to talk about Mexico, and "US racism."
Asks "Is it true/all Mexicans/carry knives?"
Very blunt-uses humor and understands Mexicans are not the bad guys like they are portrayed in movies.
She answers his question: "Lucky for you/I'm not carrying my knife/today."
Frenchman tells her, "I think/the knife you carry/is abstract."
Cisneros' "knife" is her voice.
Things she writes protect her like the proverbial, stereotypical "knife" that all Mexicans carry.
She has different ideas about world.
Frenchman picked up this and knew she was not like other Latin Americans.
She wanted more for herself-and others like her.
Cisneros didn't want to be stuck in the endless circle of dependency, like so many other women had been.
Disproving cliched ideas of Mexicans.
Wants people to understand Latin Americans are diverse.
Uses stereotypes:"Mexicans are always the bad guys," and the question about knives-to invalidate common ideas.
Ironic-using thoughts that people have about all Mexicans, falsifies beliefs about her heritage.
The thing about
is that you don't have a
You get what you get
And you can't change it.
You are stuck with
Annoying like a fly in you ear
Loud like a shrill siren
That warns you when it's near
A shoulder that rams
And gets in the way
Of where you wanna go
Precocious like a two year old
Who needs attention
And won't stop screaming
Until you give in
A face that sneers
Like you need the reminder
Of why you ran away
Embarrassing like the mother
Who holds your hand as you cross the street
Who threatens to smother
A mouth that insults
I hate you.
But you are rewarded with
Supportive like a sports bra
That will always be there
Entertaining like morning cartoons
And lazy days
Spent laughing and giggling
A shoulder to lean on
And cry on
But definitions vary
A face to kiss
And a face that kisses
Though sometimes it's reluctantly given
Gentle like doves wings
And soft blankets
And a voice like angels sing
A mouth that smiles
I love you.
You can't change
But maybe you don't have to
Maybe you don't want to.
Mexican in France
He says he likes Mexico.
Especially all that history.
That's what I understand
although my French
is not that good.
And wants to talk
about U.S. racism.
It's not often he meets
Mexicans in the south of France.
a Mexican Marlon Brando once
on French tv.
How, in westerns,
the Mexicans are always
the bad guys. And--
Is it true
--Lucky for you
I'm not carrying my knife
He laughs too.
the knife you carry
Analysis of personal poem
Family is important-common theme in Cisneros' poems.
Cisneros grew up poor-family constantly moving around, and couldn't make many friends.
Only companions were her brothers.
Poem explains the bond that families have-sometimes they're unbearable, but will always be there for you.
The poem lists negative attributes of family
"annoying", "embarrassing", and "loud."
This makes it hard to love family
But, in the second stanza-list of positive aspects of family
"supportive", "helpful", and "gentle."
Order of bad, then good, shows in order to appreciate the good, you have to deal with the bad as well.
Another line: "You are stuck with...a shoulder that rams."
Family always in the way: literally and figuratively.
A literal shoulder: purposefully gets in the way for petty payback
Also their figurative shoulder stops you when you want to make your own way in the world.
In the second stanza, the word "shoulder" is followed by a different phrase.
"A shoulder to lean on" is positive part of having a family
Always be there when you need them with a shoulder to cry on.
The repetition of "shoulder," both negative and positive, is used with other phrases.
Used with "face," and "mouth."
Juxtaposition of the negative and positive aspects of shoulder, face and mouth also describe family.
May seem overbearing and restricting, but same part will be there when you need it.
Family will be annoying, and supportive
Last stanza of the poem: "You can't change familia/But maybe you don't have to/Maybe you don't want to."
Means although family can be rude, obnoxious and annoying, you love them anyway, and for all their faults, wouldn't have them any other way.
They say I’m a beast.
And feast on it. When all along
I thought that’s what a woman was.
They say I’m a bitch.
Or witch. I’ve claimed
the same and never winced.
They say I’m a macha, hell on wheels,
viva-la-vulva, fire and brimstone,
but I like the compliment.
The mob arrives with stones and sticks
to maim and lame and do me in.
All the same, when I open my mouth,
they wobble like gin.
Diamonds and pearls
tumble from my tongue.
Or toads and serpents.
Depending on the mood I’m in.
I like the itch I provoke.
The rustle of rumor
I am the woman of myth and bullshit.
(True. I authored some of it.)
I built my little house of ill repute.
Brick by brick. Labored,
loved and masoned it.
I live like so.
Heart as sail, ballast, rudder, bow.
Rowdy. Indulgent to excess.
My sin and success–
I think of me to gluttony.
By all accounts I am
a danger to society.
I’m Pancha Villa.
I break laws,
upset the natural order,
anguish the Pope and make fathers cry.
I am beyond the jaw of law.
I’m la desperada, most-wanted public enemy.
My happy picture grinning from the wall.
I strike terror among the men.
I can’t be bothered what they think.
¡Que se vayan a la ching chang chong!
For this, the cross, the calvary.
In other words, I’m anarchy.
I’m an aim-well,
I’m Bitch. Beast. Macha.
Ping! Ping! Ping!
I break things.
Analysis of "Loose Woman"
Poem about Cisneros:how she is looked down upon by other writers, because she is both a woman, and Latin American.
People call her "...macha, hell on wheels...fire and brimstone..."
In the beginning: "They say I'm a beast...When all along/I thought that's what a woman was."
Sarcastic: names are their definition, not hers.
Lists insults and says "but I like the compliment."
Those words don't define her-what she says defines her.
"...when I open my mouth/they wobble like gin."
Her words are strong and powerful and affect people
"Diamonds and pearls tumble from my tongue..."
When she voices opinions, people listen.
She wants women to be respected, and not called names that degrade them.
Cisneros calls herself "most-wanted public enemy" because of changes she wants in the treatment of women writers.
Blatantly stating how she is treated-because she is a woman and she is Latin American.
People call her a "beast."
Has different ideas about women writers-and she's Mexican-seen as barbaric
Maybe not attacked as heavily if she was Caucasion and writing about these things-because she is Mexican-viewed as uncivilized for this.
Poem also about acceptance.
"but I like the compliment" when people insult her
Knows the effect she is having on men-likes the message she is sending.
She wants women to be viewed the same as men.
Not insulted, but respected.
Through this poem, she is hopefully changing people's points of view on women and Latin Americans.
Analysis of Writing style
She grew up in poverty with six brothers
Her family constantly moved around, uprooting her and her brothers-led her to retreat to the world of books and stories to escape her lonely life.
Found her voice when she started writing about what she knew.
House on Mango Street-
Esperanza, a poor Mexican girl-very similar to Cisneros
Both poor, living in poverty-wished for a different life like the white picket fences, perfect lawns seen on TV.
Cisneros' poems also reflect her background-weaves Spanish words in them, to give more meaning, and to emphasize a point.
Poem "You call me Corazon" about a man who gives his heart to a woman-calls her "corazon,"-Spanish for "heart."
The woman/narrator, says "that was enough for me to forgive you," when the man calls her "corazon," because it is special, and meaningful.
To make point special and meaningful for the reader, Cisneros says "corazon" instead of "heart,"-understand power of the word.
In these ways, Cisneros combines both her childhood of poverty, and her Mexican heritage, into her works to create a style that is uniquely hers.
Loose Woman: Poems
. New York: Knopf, 1994. Print.
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Sandra Cisneros Biography
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By Julia Webster