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Imagery Used in the Novel The House on Mango Street

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The House on Mango Street is a vignette by Sandra Cisneros, depicting among other aspects, the cloistering of women, abuse and hope. The purpose of this paper is to explore how Sandra employs imagery and other literary devices to bring out the cloistering, abuse and hope for women within the House on Mango Street. Some of the literary devices employed include symbolism, repetition, irony, allusion and symbolism. As in many aspects of life, when people are confined and restricted, they are weakened. There is, however, no guarantee that this weakening results in their defeat or serves to fuel their resolve to overcome the situation. When women are cloistered and abused, they develop hope and resolve to better their lives.

Imagery

In the story, the image of a house is used to express two aspects; the restriction of women and also their hopes of independence.

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House as a Confinement

Rafaela cannot do her will since she is under her husband’s command: ‘Rafaela, who is still young but getting old from leaning out the window so much, gets locked indoors because her husband is afraid that Rafaela will run away since she is too beautiful to look at’ (81). She keeps leaning out of the window and dreams of her freedom. On the other hand, her husband keeps her locked, fearing that she would have the confidence to leave the house and pursue her dreams.

Sally marries a marshmallow salesman who provides but keeps her confined with no access to friends, telephone and she is not allowed to go out without permission; ‘And he doesn’t let her look out the window’ (84). The house and marriage becomes a confinement to her greatly restricting her independence. She is forced to content with looking at the linoleum roses and the walls depicting the material things he provides.

Esperanza’s great-grandmother also looks out of the window in sadness for having been confined in a house and a marriage that she did not want and the inability to do as per her wish: ‘She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow ’ (25).

House as Hope

Mamacita looks at the picture of the pink house with a sigh, a house that represents home to her and she keeps asking the man when there will go there: ‘Home is a house in a photograph, a pink house, pink as hollyhocks with lots of startled light’ (70). She keeps up hope of going to the pink house, of being happy and speaking in her language.

Esperanza’s parents have hope of having a white house of their own with trees around it, running water and a big yard: ‘They always told us that one day we would move into a house, a real house that would be ours for always so we wouldn’t have to move each year’ (21). The mother told the story often showing her hope for a better life for herself and her family.

Notably, Esperanza’s dream is to have a house of her own with her own pillows, porch and purple petunias signifying her independence: ‘Not a flat. Not an apartment in back. Not a man’s house. Not a daddy’s. A house all my own’ (88). She acknowledges that the house on 4006 Mango is not hers and is determined to make a life of her own.

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