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“The house on Mango Street” is a novel created by Sandra Cisneros. It contains vignettes narrated by Esperanza. She talks of various houses which she has lived so far in her life. Esperanza together with her family has just relocated to their new house located in Mango Street. She always has hopes of living in a comfortable house because she does not like the house which the family stays in. The house that they occupy is the first one of their own, she compares it with all the others that she has seen in the TV and is not happy with it.
Esperanza is the most important character in Sandra Cisneros novel “The House on Mango Street’’. Esperanza narrates stories of her family, neighbors and the imaginations that she has in secret. The story comes out though Esperanza has the internal drive to fight with poverty, gender biasness and racism that is dominant in the society they are living in. The vignettes show various aspects of Esperanza and the change she underwent throughout her stay in Mango Street.
The story begins with Esperanza’s family relocating to a new house situated in Mango Street, this is there own house. She has the hope of living in a better house but on arrival to the Mango Street she is not pleased with the type of house they are ushered into “Everybody has to share a bedroom, I knew I had to have a house; a real house with trees around it”. It does not reflect the kind of house that her parents have always dreamt of or the house that Esperanza herself has been thinking about being built up on top of a hill. Their house is located in Chicago the area surrounded by a poor neighborhood “her house is tiny, crumbling, and without a yard”.
Esperanza is concerned with the nature of her home as she is not only humiliated by the scenery of her home but is also not comfortable with her outward appearance. This feeling is heightened when the nun asks her where she lives and she mentions it with an attitude that made her disgusted. She says “You live there?” For her the current state that she is in does not show her inner ability. She knows that one day she will have her dream house. She is concerned with her name which is not mentioned well by her teachers. She thinks that her name carried with it the misfortunes that befell her grandmother with whom she was named after. She is determined to fight a fierce race so that she does not end up like the first Esperanza who was married off and later landed in a life full of sorrows. Her journey towards this end starts from the pronunciation of her name in a different version which reveals her proper self.
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While in Mango Street Esperanza sees the kind of lives that people in the surroundings are living. She finds out that people live different types of lifestyles; there are those who experience joy while there are others who live in total hardship. These realities are depicted by the type of houses that people live in. she first met a friend Cathy whose relation does not last because her father moved the family away since the place was being inhabited by more low class people; the likes of Esperanza’s family. The rough conditions in the neighborhoods expose the young children to various problems. All kinds of evils take place in the surrounding since the houses they are living in are insecure. There is car theft, killings and even prostitution with the attempt of making life better “Louie's cousin's car-theft, the hit-and-run death of a boy and Marin's desperate attempts to find a husband”.
Esperanza has learnt various life lessons from her friends in the neighborhood who fight to make their lives better despite the stereotypes and beliefs that exist in their neighborhood. Alicia goes against the will of her father and attends the University with the main aim of making her life better. When Esperanza attained the adolescent period, she is excited with the members of the opposite sex and wishes to find someone that she can love. The conditions around the neighborhood of sexual assault kill what was to her the show of true love “Having seen two acts of sexual violence”. She decides to be more cautious when dealing with the opposite sex. She decides to put down her principles so as not to see a man as a reason to escape from the situation as all who are married are not happy “Ruthie has run away from her husband and has lost her senses” (Cisneros 63) .
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Esperanza talks of the nature of houses in Mango Street since they determined her personality. How she views life, the way she sees herself as well as how poverty affects her whole life ,all have their roots in Mango Street. The opinions that she has on the future and how poverty determines her place in the world all occurs in Mango Street.
Esperanza sympathizes with the conditions in the houses that she is living in at Mango Street. She wants to go away from the place but at the end of the novel she expresses her need to go back and help those who were not fortunate just like her. “They will not know I have gone away to come back” She admits that she has learnt a lot from her stay in Mango. Her friends told her everything that is true, which has later had an impact in her thoughts, self and she has learned a lot from the neighborhoods. This to her is the main reason why she writes about Mango Street where she discovered her true self in the mid of the insignificant place.
In conclusion, “The House on Mango Street” brings out the theme of the yearning for self definition. Esperanza is concerned with the living conditions mostly in abodes. She has brought out the description of the levels of discomfort that is in the homes. There are high levels of insecurity and embarrassment. She feels that she has the ability to bring change to her family. It outlines the problems that poor people face and the struggle they undergo as they try to obtain their self identity.
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