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An Analysis of the Main Texts in the Novel The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

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Refusal to Assimilate

Throughout all the texts, women’s destiny is a recurring theme. While some may argue that the women accept their fate, the opposite appears most evident. If they did accept the destiny given to them, they would most likely be seen as weak throughout their society. However, the women portrayed in the texts do not accept their fate without fighting, showing that they are strong and willing to work for the place that they wish to have in society.

In the text “My Name” by Sandra Cisneros, Esperanza resists her fate in many ways. In the first line of the piece she states “In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters.” (Cisneros) From the very beginning Esperanza fights her culture and heritage in exchange for a more ‘Americanized’ culture. Although she was named after her great-grandmother, whom Esperanza admires, she does not want to repeat her past. She suggests this in saying, “I have inherited her name, but don’t want to inherit her place by the window.” (Cisneros) In explaining this, Esperanza makes it very clear that she does not want to become heir to what her great-grandmother has already accomplished.

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In the next piece by Cisneros, “No Speak English”, Mamacita also denies her future. She refuses to assimilate into a new culture with the rest of her family. Cisneros illustrates this in writing, “Whatever her reasons… she won’t come down. She sits all day by the window and plays the Spanish radio show and sings all the homesick songs about her country in a voice that sounds like a seagull.” (Cisneros) In listening to the Spanish radio, Mamacita demonstrates not only a dedication to her country, but also a longing to be back there. She also refuses to learn English, as a means to refuse the assimilation into the English culture. Cisneros writes, “…but I believe she doesn’t come out because she is afraid to speak English, and maybe this is so since she only knows eight words” (Cisneros) Because she only knows enough of the language to get by, Mamacita is trying to get as far away from her destiny as possible. At the end of the piece, she even fights to keep her culture, and her baby boys’ heritage alive. Cisneros suggests this in writing “No speak English, she says to the child who is singing in the language that sounds like tin. No speak English, no speak English, and bubbles into tears. No, no, no as if she can’t believe her ears.” (Cisneros) In saying this, the mother displays a longing for her son to know where he came from, though he will not remember.

Lastly, in the text “Marin” by Sandra Cisneros, an exchange student denies her destiny by making a detailed ‘Plan B’. Marin explains to her classmates that she has a boyfriend in Puerto Rico. She follows that statement with, “…if she stays here next year, she’s going to get a real job downtown because that’s where the best jobs are.” (Cisneros) She is refusing to accept her fate in Puerto Rico by making future plans in the city she is in now. She also subtly throws in that she, “…can meet someone in the subway who might marry you and take you to live in a big house far away.” (Cisneros) Proving further that she does not want her Puerto Rican boyfriend to be her reality, she daydreams about who she could meet in the next year on her way to her new job.

Throughout each piece, women demonstrate that they are strong willed in their own individual ways. Each woman denies her destiny despite her family and friends input. From changing her name, not learning English and making two different plans, every woman shown refuses to buy into what appears to be their fate.


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