The American Book Award is not easily achievable, however, The House on Mango Street is highly known due to it is required to read in Middle Schools, High Schools, and some Universities across the country, The House on Mango Street is known for its vignettes that is filled with literature and the struggle of Esperanza, where she struggles to find herself and still be able to fit into society where Hispanics are oppressed because their primary language is not English, In the vignettes the audience could see the struggle that Esperanza has with one self, and how she longs to have a friend who will not judge her due to her ethnicity, or the way she speaks and is able to understand her. The house on Mango streets shows the audience through vignettes of the power of language and self definition of being a Chicana.
“No speak English” is one of the vignettes that demonstrate the power of language, this vignette demonstrated imagery, according to The house on Mango Street, “?And then to break her heart forever, the baby boy, who has begun to talk, starts to sing the Pepsi commercial he heard on T.V.” In ?“No speak English”, Mamacita is having a hard time to adapt into America because she is not able to speak English, therefore, when her only child learned how to speak it was English which broke the mother’s heart, and the audience is able to note that through the tone of the mother’s pain of how she breaks down to tears, “?“… No speak English, no speak English, and bubbles into tears. No, no, no, as if she can’t believe her ears”, the audience could image of the mother on her knees and begging her son to not speak any English. According Betz, “In an interview with Cisneros, Feroza Jussawalla remarks that “there seems to be a voice criticizing [?Mamacita?]” for clinging to Spanish; Cisneros finds that “the language, for a lot of people, was a link back… it’s a frightening thing when you let go of a language because you’ve let go of your tiny thin string back home” This shows an imagery by how Mamacita tries to cling for her language Spanish, even though English is the primary language in America. As if, she rejects the idea of being an American because she already identifies herself as a Spaniard.
“No speak English”, shows self definition through imagery as well, “Home. Home. Home is a house in a photograph, a pink house, pink as hollyhocks with lots of startled light. The man paints the walls of the apartment pink, but it’s not the same, you know. She still sighs for her pink house, and then I think she cries. I would.” Mamacita self’s definition was Spain, and her language which is Spanish, therefore, moving to America caused her to lose of sense of self, because she is not able to express herself freely While she was in her country she was able to express herself freely because she identifies herself as a Spaniard. While her pink house in Spain represent herself definition, according to Betz stated, “Mamacita rejects the dominant language because she does not want to lose her connection to her home.” The Spanish language is the definition of self for Mamacita, therefore, Mamacita does not want to lose that only thread of self definition, even if she lives in a Latino community, it does not help her at all, because the English language is everywhere. Even when she watches TV, or stays in the four walls of her home, The House on Mango Street, demonstrates motifs in the power by language by, sitting by the window, Esperanza’s neighborhood are trapped in their apartments Mamacita, Rafaela, Minerva, and Sally. They sit by their windows all day and look down onto the street.
The group makes up a kind of community, but these women cannot communicate, and each keeps to her place without much complaint. Esperanza is determined not to become a woman sitting by a window, and she understands there is something amiss among the women in her world. According to The house on Mango street, “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.” This is an excerpt of “Speak No English”, which demonstrates that Mamacita does not leave her house, due to the fact, that she doesn’t know the primary language English. Whichfives her difficulty to be able to communicate with the community.
Esperanza’s will to leave her community begins to flourish only after she learns that she does not belong in that community, and that she can make it big elsewhere, According to Betz, “The intentional escape from Mango Street marks the development of her personal identity. It is only by separating herself from her Spanish native tongue and community will she ever gain belonging away from Mango Street.” One more motif that is demonstrated in The house on Mango street that relays the message self definition is names. The power of names to transform and empower fascinates Esperanza, who struggles with how to define herself. She mentions the transforming power of names in “My Name,” where she picks Zeze the X as a new name for herself. She also gives her current name, Esperanza, several definitions in order to make it more powerful. She believes that her name Esperanza does not emphasize herself definition because she doesn’t want to inherit a place on the window like her grandmother did. According to Betz, “In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine” (10). The Spanish meaning of her namesake reveals a negative connotation to her identity, whereas the English definition is motivating and positive. Her name is important because it represents tradition; ancestral connections provide the foundation to a person’s identity, but the protagonist attempts to reject these connections through her disapproval of the Spanish meaning to her name.”
When Esperanza lists out names if she had an opportunity to change her name, the audience would notice that is is more Americanized, because Esperanza is facing hardships for being hispanic. Poetry is a huge symbolism that represents the power of language in the novel The House on Mango Street, from the vignette Minerva writes Poems, ?Minerva is another woman who is suffering from self definition and power of language, Minerva shares Esperanza’s poetic instincts, but she has become trapped by a man and her young children. Most of the pitiful women look out the window and dream of better things, but Minerva’s husband throws a rock through her window, symbolizing that she has no means of escape, not even through poetry or dreaming. Esperanza at least realizes Minerva’s mistake, and sees that she must work hard to avoid it, while her Aunt Lupe in the vignette “Born Bad”, offered a solution to Esperanza to be able to accomplish her freedom when Esperanza read a poem to her aunt? I want to be like the waves on the sea,like the clouds in the wind, but I’m me.
One day I’ll jump out of my skin.I’ll shake the sky like a hundred violins.” The poem that Esperanza reads to her Aunt Lupe is a simple and beautiful expression of how the young girl sees herself – right now she’s trapped and itching to be free, but some day she’ll explode into her full potential, Lupe ?told Esperanza that she must keep writing, as it will keep her free, because writing will help her tell her experience of her hardships and relay the stores of others. Shoes is another symbolism that relays the message of self definition that Esperanza longs for independence, from the vignette The family of little feet, Esperanza makes the connection between shoes and sex for the first time when she, Lucy, and Rachel try on high-heeled shoes a neighbor gives them. The shoes transform their scarred, childish feet and legs into long, slim women’s legs, and what began as a childhood game of dress-up becomes something more dangerous, as male neighbors ogle them hungrily. That afternoon, they are happy to abandon the shoes, claiming they are bored with them.
Which Esperanza learned that day that she did not wanted to be ogle like that by older men, which made her happy to discard the shoes. This taught Esperanza that she will have to deal with growing up both the danger of her male-dominated society, and the pleasure she gets from being desirable. According to The house on Mango street Benny stated, “You girls are too young to be wearing shoes like that”, foreshadows the future that the girls will hold once they wear high heel shoes in the future. As they will always be looked in the light as sexual in the eyes of men, once they wear high heels. In conclusion, ?The house on Mango streets shows the audience through vignettes of the power of language and self definition through imagery, motifs, and symbolism. Esperanza figures if she wants to get out of Mango Street, she will have to master the power of language, and find her true meaning of self definition, through going through those experiences she finds the depressed women that wish they could have done something different, differences in sexuality, and the struggle of finding independence, and finding her skill in poetry. Although she did give preference to the English language over Spanish, “?In English my name means hope.
In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine”?, she does hold her mother tongue language close to her heart. This ties with the thesis of how? The house on Mango streets shows the audience through vignettes of the power of language and self definition of being a Chicana. Being a Chicana is a difficulty in the United States due to the lack of speaking the Spanish language, and the inability to fit in with Whites, due to the fact of different cultures, and different experiences.’
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- Citation Veras, Adriane Ferreira. “Language and Identity in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street.” ?Antares Letras e Humanidades?, Programa De Pós-Graduco En Letras, Cultura e Regionalidade, 5 June 2011, www.ucs.br/etc/revistas/index.php/antares/article/download/909/636?.
- Betz, Regina M. Chicana “Belonging” in Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street?. Monmouth University, 2012, www.rmmla.org/assets/docs/Journal-Archives/2010-2019/summer2012-Betz.pdf?.
- Wiggins, Annalisa Waite. “Rethinking the Historical Lens: A Case for Relational Identity in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street.” BYU Scholars Archive, Brigham Young University, 8 Aug. 2008, scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2648&context=etd
- http://www.ucs.br/etc/revistas/index.php/antares/article/download/909/636 http://www.rmmla.org/assets/docs/Journal-Archives/2010-2019/summer2012-Betz.pdf