The House on Mango Street Literary Analysis

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The book The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros the book is based around this mostly Latino neighborhood, and how it traps the women within it. Esperanza is a 12-year-old girl whose family has moved around a lot, and when they finally afford a house it ends up being the one Esperanza dreamed of. Throughout the book, esperanza expresses her intense dislike for this neighborhood, and many times brings up the women that are trapped inside by their husbands, children, fathers, and they are also scared that if they leave what would they do and how would they provide for their children. Esperanza doesn’t experience this first hand but is surrounded by the women that do have to live with it every single day for the rest of their lives. A major story element that is significant throughout the book is the motif of women by windows, and how Esperanza is determined not to end up like all the women in her past and present.

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One example of this theme is Esperanza’s dead great-grandmother. This woman is described in the book as a very strong and amazing woman until esperanza’s great grandfather came and took her away unwillingly, and according to the book, her great grandmother never forgave him for that. “My great-grandmother. I would’ve liked to have known her, a wild horse of a woman, so wild she wouldn’t marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carried her off… And the story goes she never forgave him. She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow… I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window,” (Cisneros 11). This quote demonstrates the power that men have over women, and how they only used that power to strip the women’s dignity. In conclusion, the theme of women sitting by the windows came from men abusing the partnership that a marriage should be.

Another example is in the chapter “No Speak English” Mamacita moves to the US to be with her husband and build a home for their son, but she soon becomes a prisoner confined to her apartment and only her apartment. She barely knows English, and when her baby boy starts to speak English she is absolutely devastated because this new language no longer includes her. This theme the power of language is very common throughout the book, and it connects to this motif because in this situation it’s one of the reasons that she is confined to her apartment. “Then we didn’t see her… No speak English, no speak English, and bubbles into tears,” (Cisneros 77). This quote shows that she is seen once when she comes out of the cab and into the apartment and then is never seen out on the streets again like a prisoner sentenced to life, and to top it all of her sons the only joy left in her life starts to speak the language she neither understands nor speaks.

A third example is Minerva who is just a little bit older than Esperanza and she already has kids and a husband who left her. Minerva already has enough trouble trying to handle two kids at such a young age, but her husband adds to her plate, and comes back and then leaves her again and that’s a repetitive cycle. But unlike the other two, she has an escape from reality when she sits down and writes her poem after her daughters have been fed and put to sleep. “She is always sad like a house on fire-always something wrong. She has many troubles, but the big one is her husband who left and keeps leaving,” (Cisneros 85). This quote shows how Minerva is a prisoner of her own doing. All though she is not physically sitting at a window she is emotionally stuck and looking out a window on what her life could’ve been.   

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