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The House on Mango Street

Sandra Cisneros's quest for a better life and the importance of her promise to come back for "the ones she left behind."
by

Nicole Samanez

on 20 September 2012

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Transcript of The House on Mango Street

Major Themes: Quest for a better life and the importance of her promise to come back for the ones she left behind. Sandria Cisneros: The House on Mango Street Sandra Cisneros, born December 20, 1954 in Chicago, is a Mexican-American novelist, poet, and short story writer. She is best known for her acclaimed first novel The House on Mango Street. Author: Sandra Cisneros Sandra Cisneros: Sandra Cisneros claims she was brought up around cultural hybridity and economic inequality. Cisneros's early life provided her with many experiences that she would later draw upon as a writer. The constant migration of her family between Mexico and the U.S. made her feel as if she was "straddling two countries... but not belonging to either culture." Cisneros's work deals with exploring the challenges of being brought up and caught between Mexican and Anglo-American cultures,facing the anti-feminist attitudes present in both these cultures, and experiencing poverty. "She thinks stories are beauty. Beauty that is there to be admired by anyone, like a herd of clouds grazing over head. She thinks people who are too busy working for a living deserve beautiful little stories, because they don't have much time and are often tired." Her Purpose: Cisneros had a variety of professional positions. She became a teacher, a counselor, a college recruiter, a poet-in-the-schools, and an arts administrator. Work Experience: She always maintained a strong commitment to community and literary causes. In 1998 she established the Macondo Foundation, which provides socially conscious workshops for writers, and in 2000 she founded the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation, which awards talented writers connected to Texas. The House on Mango Street Sandra Cisneros is most recognized for this novel. The novel was first published in 1984, won the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award in 1985, and is now required reading for middle schools, high schools, and universities across the country. the search of a better life
self-identity
dreams & plans
society & class
gender Major Themes: In her introduction to the 25th anniversary edition of The House on Mango Street, Cisneros explains that "she wants the writers she admires to respect her work, but she also wants people who don't usually read books to enjoy these stories too" Many of the stories she tells are sad, some even painful, but she never writes them with a sense of depression. Instead her characters portray a determination to reach and dream of a better life creating a sense of optimism. Search for a Better Life: Self-Identity: Esperanza struggles to find her identity in terms of race, gender, sexuality, and economic status. Esperanza learns that what defines her is her ability to tell stories. Her writing allows her to express her childhood and other aspects of her life that made her feel different. Now, she has become confident writer with with own hopes and dreams. The hopes and dreams of the characters in The House on Mango Street are characterized by a house. For Esperanza’s parents, happiness and security is having a white house that was big enough for their whole family, but Esperanza had a different dream. Her dream was to have a house all to herself, in which she could be free to write just like she states in her introduction for the 25th Anniversary Edition of The House on Mango Street. Hopes & Dreams: Society & Class We figure throughout the story that poverty and class distinctions are an issue. The residents of Mango Street live in old, run-down apartments and houses. They only dream of residing in the big, beautiful, well-kept houses in the nice neighborhoods of the city. Many of the women in the community are oppressed. This becomes an issue of freedom when the men don’t let the women leave their homes and the women are frequently abused and mistreated. We witness these actions when Esperanza is sexually assaulted. Also, she mentions in the novel “The Chinese, like the Mexicans, don't like their women strong.” Not conforming to society’s gender roles and expectations, and remaining independent creates a source of power for Esperanza that otherwise is stripped away by the men in society. Gender: Sandra writes about many of her own experiences through her characters. "Some fibers of those stories are mine." "And then Rafaela, who is still young but getting old from leaning out the window so much, gets locked indoors because her husband is afraid Rafaela will run away since she is too beautiful to look at. " "She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow […] Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don't want to inherit her place by the window." The House on Mango Street It is the story of the young Latina girl, Esperanza Cordero, who invents who and what she will become throughout the story using poems and vignettes to express her emotions about her oppressive environment. She wishes to break free from this oppression through her work. Do you think Esperanza's attitude is pessimistic or hopeful throughout the story?
How does Sandra express her thoughts and experiences through her characters in The House on Mango Street?
Why do you think Esperanza vows to go back to Mango Street? Is this something that the author wants to do for her own life? Why? Discussion Questions: "I knew then I had to have a house. A real house. One I could point to. But this isn't it. The house on Mango Street isn't it. For the time being, Mama says. Temporary, says Papa. But I know how those things go."
"About Sandra Cisneros." Sandra Cisneros. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2012. <http://www.sandracisneros.com/bio.php>.

Cisneros, Sandra. "House on Mango Street Intro.pdf." Blackboard. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2012. <https://campus.fsu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset>.

Cisneros, Sandra. House on Mango Street. San Diego, CA: Jane Schaffer Publications, 1997. Print.

"The House on Mango Street - The Story." YouTube. YouTube, 01 Apr. 2009. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Pyf89VsNmg>.

"The House on Mango Street." Barnes & Noble. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2012. <http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/house-on-mango-street-sandra-cisneros/1100476125>.

"National Poetry Month: 10 of Our Favorite Latino Poets." LATINA. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <http://www.latina.com/entertainment/buzz/national-poetry-month-10-our-favorite-latino-poets>. Works Cited
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