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The House on Mango Street
Transcript of The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros
Meet the Author
Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in 1954
The 3rd child and only daughter in a family of 7 children
Studied at Loyola University of Chicago (B.A. English 1976) and the University of Iowa (M.F.A. Creative Writing 1978)
Worked as a teacher and counselor to high school dropouts
Recipient of numerous awards, including the Lannan Literary Award and the American Book Award
Founded both the Macondo Foundation, an association of socially engaged writers; and the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation, a grant-giving institution serving Texas writers
Was a writer in residence at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio
Currently lives with many creatures, little and large, in central Mexico
Tuesday, April 8th 2014 Sandra will be at Northwest Vista College to read from her work, answer questions from the audience, and sign copies of her books.
Background of the Book & Story
First published in 1984
Won the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award in 1985
Required reading in middle schools, high schools, and universities across the country
Sold over 2 million copies since its initial publication and is still selling strong
• 12 year old Mexican-American girl
• The protagonist and narrator
• The one who develops the most throughout the book
• She struggles with her feelings (loneliness and shame of being poor)
• Wants to have her own home and become a writer someday
The most sexually bold character
• She is the same age as Esperanza
• Esperanza considers her “glamorous”
• She is not a very good friend to Esperanza, always leaving her for boys
• Has an abusive father
• Ends up marrying a man who won’t let her see her friends or leave the house (before 8th grade)
• Esperanza’s little sister
• Her real name is Magdalena
Throughout the story Esperanza talks about the house on Mango Street in a Latino community in Chicago. Reading through the book it was as if Esperanza was ashamed of where she came from.
She always talked about one day hoping to leave Mango Street.
One references to race in the story is how Esperanza talks about her name how it means hope in English, but she says it means too many letters in Spanish. She continues to say it means a “muddy color” or “it means sadness, it means waiting” and how she wants to change her name.
In the chapter “Those Who Don’t” in this short chapter Esperanza talks about people being afraid to come into her neighborhood because they are afraid they might be stabbed with shiny knives. Also, people think her neighborhood is dangerous. I think it’s here that Esperanza starts realizing what people think of her appearance and where she comes from.
Chapter 1- The House on Mango Street
-Esperanza's explains her aspirations to live in a "real house"
-The house on Loomis Street wasn't a home, but neither is the house on Mango Street
-"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." pg. 5
Chapter 5- Cathy Queen of Cats
-Cathy, the neighborhood "Cat Lady", befriends Esperanza, but only until Tuesday
-She has to move because "the neighborhood is getting bad"
-"... they'll just have to move a little farther north from Mango Street, a little farther away every time people like us keep moving in." pg. 13
Chapter 6- Our Good Day
-Rachel and Lucy convince Esperanza to pitch in $5 for a bicycle that they will share
-Cathy disapproves of their friendship strictly because of Rachel and Lucy's appearance
-"Their clothes are crooked and old. They are wearing shiny Sunday shoes without socks. It makes their ankles all red, but I like them." pg. 14-15
Chapter 12- Those Who Don't
-Esperanza explains that people who would be afraid in her neighborhood must be lost
-Members of the neighborhood have no reason to be scared
-"They think we're dangerous. They think we will attack them with shiny knives" pg. 28
Chapter 34- Bums in the Attic
-People who "live on hills" tend to pay little attention to the People who "live too much on earth"
-When she has her own house, Esperanza will let bums live in the attic because she knows "how it is to be without a house"
-"One day I'll own my own house, but I won't forget who I am or where I came from"
Group 6: Andrew Campbell, Daniell Cruz, Sarah Dahle,
Hend Morsy, Nicole Pompa, Alyssa Ri'chard & Patrica Servantez
The House on Mango Street is a coming of age story about Esperanza Cordero told by author Sandra Cisneros through a series of vignettes (short stories). Set in Chicago in a predominantly Latino neighborhood, the reader meets Esperanza, her family and several other members of this generally poor, uneducated and underprivileged neighborhood. The story follows Esperanza through her first year of living in the House on Mango Street, where she faces and struggles with the issues of poverty, her identity as a Mexican American, the challenges and difficulties she faces with the transition from adolescence to womanhood, what being a woman in the her culture means and how all of these different identities affect her, her opportunities and her future. Throughout the novel Esperanza meets several characters (mainly women of the neighborhood), these women and their mostly terrible lives, filled with violence, oppression and limited or no future possibilities of ever leaving Mango Street only solidify what at twelve years of age Esperanza is already learning. To be a poor, Mexican American and mainly a women within this community means a life of hardship and no opportunity. It is through all of these women that Esperanza realizes how important it is that she eventually leaves Mango Street, to not become like all these women and through one of them, who encourages her; she realizes that it is her writing that will help her get out.
As a young lady growing up Esperanza see's all of the women around her feeling lost, hopeless, and the only way of escaping for most is marriage. From Sally marrying to a young age to her mother regretting that she didn't go to school Esperanza see's more for herself and is very "hopeful".
All of of themes combine to help create Esperanza's identity. She identifies as a writer, young lady, Mexican American, daughter, and sister, and a member of the "working class".
• Plays the housewife role
• Regrets not finishing school because she was ashamed of not having nice clothes
• Esperanza doesn’t look up to her because she hasn’t left Mango St.
• Works in gardens of wealthy homes in the city
• Hardly ever home
• Older girl in neighborhood who attends a university
• Her mom died so she has more responsibility.
• She is a friend and a role model to Esperanza
• Esperanza thinks she is very brave.
• She helps Esperanza realize she has a responsibility to her home and community
Lucy and Rachel-
Sisters and Esperanza's friends throughout the book
She feels comfortable around them because they are like her and don’t make fun of her name
In The House on Mango Street sexuality is a theme that is expressed mainly through Esperanza. Esperanza conveys the goals to escape the house on Mango Street and its clear through out the story. She chooses to focus on her self and that will be her best bet to escape the house on Mango Street.
Wants to escape and live in a house of her own
Begins to mature, and with maturity the desire for men are present as well.
She observes the other women in the neighborhood. She realizes that being married and having children traps you to the neighbor.
Her friend Sally marries an older man and leaves Mango Street, but is in a constant struggle of being controlled.
Experiences sexual assault twice.
At the Carnival, was assaulted by some young boys but it’s unsure that the boy raped her. It’s just an assumption.
When she is forced to have sex for the first time
“Sally, you lied. It wasn't what you said at all. What he did. Where he touched me. I didn't want it, Sally. The way they said it, the way it's supposed to be, all the storybooks and movies, why did you lie to me?” (39.1)
With the older man who forces her to kiss him
In chapter 21 First Job: “Then he asked if I knew what day it was, and when I said I didn’t, he said it was his birthday and would I please give him a birthday kiss. I thought I would because he was so old and just as I was about to put my lips on his cheek, he grabs my face with both hands and kisses me hard on the mouth and doesn’t let go.”
What you would call a snob
She tells Esperanza that they can only be friends until Tuesday
She stops being friends with Esperanza once she becomes friends with Lucy and Rachel
She is not from Mexico or Latin America
The Three Sisters-
Old ladies that guess Esperanza’s dreams and advise her to always return to Mango St.
Carlos and Keeky-
She considers them in a different world (male world)
Used to be beautiful like Joan Crawford then she got some disease that made her blind
Esperanza likes her because she listens to her poems and encourages her to keep writing
Theme: Gender & Identity
Only a little older than Esperanza and is already married with 2 kids
She and Esperanza hang out and read each other’s poetry.
She keeps going back to an abusive husband.
First time Esperanza thinks about sex
Young woman from Puerto Rico who lives with her cousin’s family
She babysits and sells Avon
Teaches the girls about boys
Sent back to Puerto Rico for her behavior