The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisnero
Sandra Cisnero’s The House on Mango Street is about a young Latina girl named Esperanza that struggles with her identity after moving into a “sad red house” in a run-down urban Latino neighborhood. The novel takes the reader through Esmeralda’s own personal change and growth story starting from when they first moved into the house and she despising it, to actually accepting the red house as a home that’s part of her. Her family is very unison together which is very much a big part of Hispanic culture, which help her overcome her sexually abusive experience with men.
An essential part of this novel, is young Esperanza’s fascination with houses, all those except her own. Since Esperanza was growing up, she cared a lot about what her peers thought of her, so much so that she even lied to people about where she actually lives. When her friend Cathy was shocked when she saw Esperanza’s old, run-down house which Esmeralda kept making excuses for saying that some of the things weren’t old they were just “supposed to be that way.” Esperanza’s obsession with houses come from the animosity she has to her own. She sees a home and becomes enthralled in them because of her obsession with freedom, status, affluence, and independence. Even though she does love her family, I can see how it could’ve been too much for her sometimes. She is embarrassed by her background and her family’s lack of monetary means so throughout the story she lies to people she gets acquainted with so they do not think less of her. She would have to get up and make breakfast, and other motherly duties as such that went against her plan of independence and freedom. However, I feel like maybe she doesn’t want freedom from her solely her household but from her social class. She wants to break through that barrier and become break free from her low social status.
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Something that really popped out to me in the coming-of-age story is the “monkey garden.” The monkey garden used to belong to one of the families that lived Mango Street who owned a monkey, so when they move away, the kids take over this temporarily beautiful place, until it started getting ruined by people dumping garbage there. Although the money garden seems harmless and fun, Esmeralda actually loses her innocence there. The monkey garden goes from a place where she used to have fun and play games with her friends, to the place she was assaulted by a group of boys. I feel like the monkey garden’s deteriorating state could be a symbol for Esmeralda’s deteriorating innocence.