Book Analysis of 'The House on Mango Street'

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ENGL 1302-3 8 November 2011 Growing into a Woman The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros, focuses on a preadolescent Mexican American girl, Esperanza, living in the United States. In forty-four literary sketches, Cisneros recounts the complex experiences of being young, poor, female, and Chicano in America. She writes of the trials and tribulations of moving from one poor district of Chicago to the next and about her experiences of life after her parents finally purchase a house. The reader is allowed to participate in the feelings, attitudes, and the obstacles Esperanza endures as she reaches realizations about isolation in society, her identity and existence as a maturing adolescent, and the pursuit of her hopes and dreams. In the book, one of prevalent themes is society and class and how it impacts not only Esperanza but the people she knows in the community. The book makes reference to the culture of Chicanos, or Mexican Americans, which have a history of being overcast by demeaning stereotypes just like those of other ethnicities (Klein 119). Even the language between the Mexican American community and the outside world proves to alienate the two groups. At the time the novel was written, and sometimes still today, Chicanos have been systematically excluded from the American society. Esperanza and the members of her community must deal with the attitudes of the citizens who live outside the barrio, one of which is that outsiders fear them. Esperanza states, “Those who don't know any better come into our neighborhood scared. They think we're dangerous. They think we will attack them with shiny knives. They are stupid people who are lost and got here by mistake” (Cisneros). Esperanza notices that no one from outside the community comes to Mango Street on purpose—people from other neighborhoods only wind up there “by mistake,” when they get

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