The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros Contents Introduction The House on Mango Street Hairs Boys & Girls My Name. Bloom'sGUIDES Sandra Cisneros'sThe House on Mango Street Currently Available The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn A Size Report. DOWNLOAD PDF. The House on Mango Street - Download as PDF File .pdf) or read online. the house on mango street, soundofheaven.info
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ing a lot. Each time it seemed there'd be one more of us. By the time we got to Mango Street we were six—Mama,. Papa, Carlos, Kiki, my sister. By the time we got to Mango Street we were six-Mama,. Papa, Carlos, Kiki, my sister Nenny and me. The house on Mango Street is ours, and we don't have. A Rice Sandwich by Sandra Cisneros LITERARY FOCUS: THE NARRATOR A narrator is the teller of a story. When you begin reading a story, look for clues.
Her work is sensitive, alert, nuanceful. Armed with her own stories and devoted to telling the stories of her mother, her aunt, and the other Chicana women and disenfranchised people around her, Cisneros began writing The House on Mango Street. Two stories specifically address this subject in vivid though not graphic terms: Latina writers, too, much like the Asian American writers and the African American writers, are mining their ancestral traditions, exposing oppression, and rewriting history from their own point of view. You must keep writing.
His cousin Marin lives with them, and though she wears make-up and 24 nylons and claims to be in love, her nearest contact with the outside world is in the doorway of her home. She is forced into babysitting her young relatives because she is a woman, an early example of the imprisoned women that Esperanza observes throughout the book.
All of the children clamor for rides, asking the man where he got the car. He takes them for a ride around the neighborhood but never answers the question. Intoxicated with the power windows and luxury of the Cadillac, the children press buttons and play with controls. By the seventh time around the block, police sirens are sounding. The chase ends with the car crashing into a tree and the young man in handcuffs. This young man comes back to his neighborhood to show what he has achieved even if by criminal means.
Sadly, he also gives the impression that one of the few ways out of the barrio is through crime. She dreams of working downtown in a job where she can wear nice clothes and be seen by men, with the hope that one might marry her and take her away to his home in the suburbs.
Every night she stands on the front porch after her mother goes to sleep and waits for the boys to pass by and look at her. Esperanza, in her careful study of Marin as a female archetype, realizes that Marin has pinned all of her hopes of escape on men. She knows every strange figure in the neighborhood.
With knowledge comes lack of fear and, with that, a kind of power. Still, she recognizes that white people are not the sole perpetuators of racial distrust.
Because there are so many and they behave so badly, the entire community, including the children and Rose, becomes indifferent to the well-being of these children. As a result, no one notices when Angel Vargas, a small child, climbs to the top of roof and throws herself off. Esperanza outlines the apathy created when people are overwhelmed.
Alicia is a young woman in the neighborhood who attends college, believing that education might be her means out of the neighborhood.
She is also a surrogate mother to her siblings and a surrogate housekeeper for her father. This young woman goes to bed so exhausted she hallucinates mice that keep her up at night. Her father orders her to sleep so she can again wake early and provide for her siblings before taking two trains and a bus to college, which might prove to be her salvation from marriage or life in a factory.
In the next chapter, Esperanza introduces Darius, who bullies little girls and skips school. Esperanza talks about the sky being one of the few beautiful things that exist in the barrio.
This thought reminds her of Darius and a profound thing he once said to her. The sky is 26 one of the beautiful things that make it into the barrio, and it cannot be taken away by poverty or prejudice. In the next lines, they bicker about the type of snow and the number of names a cousin has, at least one for each identity American and Spanish , before discussing the different names of clouds. As they identify the different types of clouds, names from the neighborhood are being repeated, all the different types of people who live in the barrio, all the different types of Spanish names.
The girls get into an argument over a description of a cloud that includes a reference to a face. They try to outtalk one another, exchanging insults and eventually creating a cacophony of voices.
The chapter ends with the girls realizing that their argument is stupid and not worth risking their friendship over. The competing voices eventually blend to produce a sort of harmony—even a wry simple wisdom—in a way that monologic narrative would not allow. The multicolored shoes are exciting to the girls, offering them the chance to pretend to be Cinderella, or an older girl who attracts men like flies.
As they swap shoes and try them on, Lucy orders them to take their socks off, and when they do they realize that they have legs like the older girls, the kind that potentially draw the attention of men. They walk down the street to the grocery store. Around them, the men are abuzz, some indignant and wanting to 27 protect the girls from growing up too quickly, others filled with lascivious intent.
Critic Michelle Scalise Sugiyama writes: Their resolution to never go back to wearing the other kind of shoes comes after they realize that the shoes make them sexually attractive to men. As they pass the laundromat, they make some of the other women jealous of the shoes they have.
Their sense of empowerment dies, however, when they meet a homeless man who compliments them and offers a dollar for a kiss. Suddenly, the male attention that brought so much pleasure is now rife with potential violence. The girls run from him and decide they are tired of being beautiful. Everyday she goes home for lunch, envying the children who remain at school to eat in the cafeteria.
The nun allows her to stay at school for one day, so Esperanza gets her wish; she goes to the canteen but only after meeting with Mother Superior who questions her until Esperanza is in tears. Which one? It is in response to humiliations such as these that the autobiographical protagonist expresses a need for a house of her own. When she finally enters the cafeteria, she is crying, her lunch is soggy, and all of the other children are watching her.
After all of her persuasive rhetoric, Esperanza finds she no longer wants to be in this hostile environment that turns out to be nothing very interesting at all. Again, she is forced to recognize the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion.
Her mother buys her a new dress, slip, and socks. By the end of the trip, her mother is too tired to buy Esperanza new shoes, and they leave without them. While her mother is shopping, Esperanza waits by the door, allowing no one in except her mother, another small reality of her life. She dresses for the party and puts on her old shoes, feeling sure that they have overshadowed the effect of the rest of her newly bought items.
Again, Esperanza returns to the eroticism of the feet. When she arrives at the party, she sits in a chair, tucking her feet beneath the seat in an effort to hide them. When she is asked to dance by a boy, she refuses, afraid to show her shoes. Her Uncle Nacho then asks her to dance and drags the unwilling Esperanza to the floor. With all of the compliments and fanfare, Esperanza eventually forgets that her shoes are old and serviceable, bought because they last.
Instead, all she hears is the clapping of the crowd as the music stops. When she returns to her seat, her mother is proud. Throughout the rest of the night, the boy who asked her to dance, who she suddenly sees as a man, watches her. She is excited by the idea of being wanted by this man. Scalise Sugiyama notes that: The male definition of beauty, exemplified by high heels, is psychologically as well as physically crippling as it requires, ultimately, submission and dependence.
Esperanza is becoming increasingly aware of her sexuality and the powers and limits that accompany it. This becomes particularly apparent in the next chapter. The chapter begins with Lucy, Rachel, Esperanza, and Nenny skipping rope, talking about hips. Rachel cannot move outside the realm of her own knowledge and experience to imagine something different, beyond gender roles.
Lucy suggests hips are needed to dance. Nenny claims that, without them, one becomes a boy. Esperanza counters all arguments with science, a seemingly infallible discipline, and an insight she has derived from the college student, Alicia.
Hips widen to allow mothers to give birth to their children. Beyond science though, Esperanza wants to discuss a broader, more imminent question: Do they want hips?
Will they know what to do with them once they get them? The questions reflect her insecurities about taking on both the body and the roles of a woman. Nenny answers naively that the walk is meant to rock babies. Esperanza immediately wants to discount her younger sibling, but after thinking about it she realizes that this idea may not be so far-fetched and that her sister may not be so distant from her after all. While the older girls are chanting their new rhymes, Nenny continues to recite the old ones she already knows.
As Olivarez puts it: Suddenly the awareness of time passing and of growing up is given a spatial dimension. The girls, excluding Nenny, are now well on their way into puberty and with that comes the acquisition of a certain set of culturally derived expectations based on gender and socioeconomic status.
For the Cordero family, there is no question of going to public school. First, he believes that a Catholic education will lead to spiritual success, particularly in light of the fact that it reinforces gender roles in the family, but also because inner-city public schools are notoriously poorly financed and maintained.
In an effort to get a job quickly, Esperanza has already gotten her social 31 security number and imagines herself working at a typical job in a dime store or a hot dog stand. When Esperanza comes home from school one day, her mother and her aunt are waiting for her with a job plan. She is to work at the Peter Pan Photo Finishers where her aunt is employed. They coach Esperanza to claim she is a year older than she actually is in order to begin working without the interference of child labor laws.
The next morning, Esperanza puts on a navy dress that makes her look older than her years and borrows money for lunch and her fare, knowing that she has a full week before she gets paid from her new job. For the interview, she lies about her age and gets the job. At work, she wears gloves and matches photos with their negatives. The hours are long, and she grows tired but is too shy to ask if she can sit. She mimics the behavior of the women beside her, gratefully sitting when they do.
Her shyness backfires when the two women figure out what she is doing and laugh at her, finally telling her that she can sit down whenever she wants to. To hide her embarrassment, she relies on bravado, claiming that she already knew that, but their laughter only exacerbates her feelings of exclusion. Her shyness continues to make the job difficult. When she is too scared to go into a lunchroom of strangers and eat, she hides in the washroom, eating her lunch and resuming her work early.
When the next break comes, she hides in the cloak room, watching people punch in for the next shift. While she sits there, an older Asian man sits down to talk to her. Esperanza is happy to have the company until the man claims it is his birthday and asks for a kiss. She figures that there is no harm in kissing an old man for his birthday, but when she moves to kiss his cheek, he grabs her face and forces a kiss onto her mouth.
The older she becomes, the more Esperanza develops a need, born of experience, to view men as dangerous predators. This continued pattern of abuse, harassment, and potential harm upsets some critics as they say it is an unfair portrayal of men and Chicano men in particular. Still, in contrast to that point of view, in the next chapter, Esperanza is awakened by her father. He tells her, in his native Spanish, that her grandmother is dead and then he 32 begins to cry.
This unsettles Esperanza. She associates few things with her father: His masculinity, his whole being for her, is encased in the daily rituals that surround his working and the effects of his work.
To see her father cry is to view him as a human being as opposed to a breadwinner and an authority figure. She puts her arms around her father and holds him tight, wanting to never let go of this rare moment in which she gets to comfort him. She also recognizes that her father will have to return to Mexico for the funeral. This realization reinforces the notion that she is between two ethnicities, Mexican and American, and in many ways belongs to neither as she negotiates her coming of age.
Suddenly, she is forced to face a very tangible mortality. The chapter begins with her mother praying for Esperanza because she was born on an evil day. In the photos her aunt is athletic, a swimmer. Though Esperanza tries, she cannot reconcile the photographs with the reality of her aunt who seems surrounded by a yellow scent, lighting, and bed clothes, as if the illness has infected everything in the room and turned it that sickly hue.
She includes in her litany of guesses the suggestion that God was busy, too, or what is perhaps the story told by her cousin, that her aunt fell very hard from a high stool.
Ultimately, she accepts none of these stories, coming to the difficult assessment that disease is democratic and random. She also muses that sometimes because the disease is so omnipresent, one forgets that things were ever any other way, though Lupe is in grave pain and so close to death.
During one visit to Aunt Lupe, the girls decide to include the ailing woman in a game they play. In the game, they select a famous person to imitate until someone guesses the identity correctly. On this day, the girls decide that it would be fun to choose people from around the neighborhood to imitate rather than celbrities. They decide to imitate Aunt Lupe. Esperanza experiences conflicting feelings because she loves her aunt. Lupe is the only person who listens to every word she says.
Esperanza would bring library books and read them to her. When she finishes reading, her aunt compliments her, and though she is tired, she gives Esperanza the advice that she clings to all her life: You must keep writing.
It will keep you free. Critic Tomoko Kuribayashi suggests that the event is part of a literary heritage: Aunt Lupe becomes an iconic figure for Esperanza. The girls make themselves limp and cry out for help in weak voices, they pretend to be blind and to have trouble sitting up. What they do not realize is that as they are enjoying their game, Aunt Lupe has died.
They are shocked; they had nearly forgotten that the actions they imitated were those of a dying woman. The girls retreat into Catholicism to beg for forgiveness for their actions. Much of the expected mysticism of a fortune teller is missing in this home as Elenita is still a woman with a messy house, needy children, and plasticcovered furniture.
Here, the mystical and the sacred co-exist, as both Catholicism and older superstitions are invoked. Uncertain, Esperanza agrees, and although she is listening to the television in the other room and wants to go watch cartoons like the baby, she chooses not to retreat into the childish activity. Her mission is to discover her future and whether or not it contains a house.
They stay in the kitchen where Elenita works between a collection of Catholic paraphernalia and a deck of tarot cards. She tells Esperanza to get the water.
On the counter, there are a number of dirty glasses. Esperanza picks the only clean glass, which has a beer logo on it. Elenita asks Esperanza to look 35 into it and tell her what she sees. Esperanza sees nothing. Elenita shrugs it off and makes the sign of the cross over the water three times and cuts the tarot cards. As Elenita works, Esperanza again finds herself distracted by the cartoons on the television.
She begins to tell Esperanza what she sees. The most important revelations are the last two: Her house is built by the stories and experiences of those around her and by her own compassion and belief in bearing witness to them.
The predictions disappoint Esperanza with their vagueness, particularly in light of the specific magic she knows Elenita is capable of dispensing for other problems like headaches and romantic conundrums. Elenita sees her disappointment and offers to read again, but Esperanza thanks her and gives her five dollars for the job.
As they part, Esperanza ponders the meaning of the prediction, and Elenita calls out a good-bye that consists of both the astrological and the sacred, emphasizing again the duality of beliefs in the barrio. The chapter begins with Marin describing an encounter with a man: She met him at a dance, he was young, attractive, and worked in a restaurant.
There is nothing more to connect them except their love of dancing. That is what she told the hospital staff and what she told the police. For all intents and purposes, Geraldo did not exist.
He was without identification, without relatives in this country. Marin sat in the emergency room waiting for this man she did not know, though she could not explain why as he was not a boyfriend or even anyone she had met before.
Instead, she reduces him to just another new immigrant. Just another wetback. Esperanza, with her own status as a female immigrant, feels empathy for this man who will quickly be forgotten as he belonged to neither the United States or Mexico.
She imagines his apartments and the money he sent home—the only tangible evidence he had made it to the United States. When the money ceases, he will be forgotten. There is no structure in place to identify him or to tell his family he is gone.
When the money no longer arrives, they will wonder and then agree to give his life over to the country he adopted, ceasing to have any concern for his fate. So, to save him in some small way, Esperanza imagines for him a story. Esperanza acted out of empathy and the need to represent those who could no longer represent themselves. Ruthie is the daughter of Edna, the owner of the building next door to Esperanza. She is infamous for her ruthless expulsion of tenants, particularly a pregnant woman 37 she threw out for owning a duck.
Esperanza recognizes that Edna would throw Ruthie out as well were she able, but because the young woman is her daughter, she allows her to live there, even though Edna does not show her daughter any affection.
Esperanza immediately recognizes the difference between familial duty and love, and in some ways tries to compensate for Edna in her treatment of Ruthie. Ruthie will not enter the candy store with the children, instead she stands outside waiting. If she does go inside, she assumes the look of a trapped animal, suggesting abuse in her past.
The children give her candy although her teeth are in poor condition. She repeatedly states that she will go to the dentist the following week. She still possesses the inclinations toward adulthood, but is unable to act upon them. Though the children notice, they choose not to call her on the truth of her comments.
She also sees lovely things in everything. Sadly, the experience of beauty is tempered by an inability to make decisions. Esperanza relates the story of when Ruthie is asked to go bowling and a car of people wait for her to make a decision. Ruthie panics and asks her mother who tells her she does not care what Ruthie does. Ruthie remains incapacitated by indecision until the car finally pulls away.
That night in support of the woman, the children ask her to play cards and allow her to deal, a tacit way of indicating their sympathy. Esperanza, though she accepts Ruthie, still wonders why anyone would move to Mango Street if they did not have to.
Though the husband never arrives, Esperanza does not judge Ruthie. Husband or no, she is a friend, and Esperanza chooses to give primacy to that. She is such a friend that Esperanza shares her books with Ruthie and even memorizes an entire poem to recite to her, a gift of great distinction to this child of words. He interacts with the children when he tells them to be quiet and when he gives away portions of his massive collection of damp 45s.
As with almost all of the characters in the neighborhood, he is viewed by Esperanza as a combination of good and bad. One of the most remarkable things about the protagonist is her lack of judgment concerning her neighbors.
She tells of a wife that Earl is supposed to have and then lists at least three women that the people in the neighborhood suspect is his wife.
With each woman, Earl behaves the same: In this chapter, she undergoes a rapid sexual metamorphosis. Suddenly, one day, she notices that a boy named Sire is watching her; having someone notice her as a sexual being is both thrilling and frightening for her. Esperanza is determined not to be like some of the other girls, she vows instead to be brave and to walk right past him rather than crossing the street. And I did. I did once. She is a petite, childlike woman to whom Esperanza compares herself.
The girl-woman smells like babies, has little painted toes, and cannot tie her own shoes. Esperanza feels a brief satisfaction that she at least can tie her own shoes, but the shoe tying is merely a trick to get a man to tie it for her, to kneel at her feet and look up at her and be close to her, to make him feel like her protector. We are told not that she and Sire hold hands when they go out on walks, but that she holds his hand, and that they stop periodically for him to tie her shoes.
Whether or not Lois is faking this inability to tie her own shoes, the submission and dependence it results in are quite real Esperanza, however, still sees it as titillating and romantic. The couple leaves for walks together, and Esperanza wonders where he takes her.
According to her mother, it is into an alley. I want to be all new and shiny. I want to sit out bad at night, a boy around my neck and the wind under my skirt. She will have a boyfriend and she will have the freedom of her newfound maturity, but she will be classified as bad. She also believes that with these newly found sexual urges she will become a whole new person, as if the first years of her life were simply a rehearsal for for the divine being she is to become.
Still, perhaps being labeled as bad would be better than the intense longing she feels. She whiles away the hours fixating on Sire, embracing and talking to the trees in her yard and imagining what he and his girlfriend are doing. She relates to them believing that they, like her, are misplaced in the city.
They speak to her at night through the window, but it is a special secret because her sister, Nenny, sleeps through the whispers.
In an act of intense identification, Esperanza describes the trees as having secret strength: They grow up and they grow down and grab the earth between their hairy toes and bite the sky with violent teeth and never quit their anger.
This is how they keep. The trees represent sheer perseverance against the harsh challenges of the city. They call to her: They teach. Contrary to the traditional view of the immigrant striving to come to the United States in pursuit of the American Dream, Mamacita comes because her husband sends for her. In Chicago, he works two jobs, saves his money, 41 and sends for his wife and child in Mexico. When they finally come, Esperanza is fascinated by the woman from the start.
When Mamacita extends her dainty foot from the cab, its tiny proportions and pink color seem beautiful, even as Esperanza views the thick ankle and finally the entire woman as she is pushed and pulled from the taxi by her husband and the driver. Huge, enormous, beautiful to look at, from the salmon-pink feather on the tip of her hat to the little rosebuds of her shoes. Esperanza emphasizes the tiny feet and the unlikely woman that they support. The reference to shoes again suggests the ways women are cloistered in the novel, as the critic Michelle Scalise Sugiyama suggests Some say the woman does not come down from the apartment because she is too fat, others say that she she cannot descend and then climb the stairs again, but the ever-attentive Esperanza believes it is because she cannot speak English and, without language, Mamacita will remain forever excluded from her new culture.
When Esperanza says now he no longer has ham and eggs, it is clear that her father has made the crucial linguistic transition necessary to become a citizen of the United States. Although Mamacita does not come out of the apartment, the neighbors know that she is in there from the homesick songs she sings as she listens to the Spanish radio shows.
Her homesickness is so intense that her husband paints the interior of the apartment pink, like the house that she left, but it is not enough. Mamacita is still racked with a longing for her homeland. She cries for her former life, and her husband becomes angry and yells at her, telling her that they are home.
Esperanza describes the effect of his words: Mamacita, who does not belong, every once in a while lets out a cry, hysterical, high, as if he had torn the only skinny thread that kept her 42 alive, the only road to that country.
She is ultimately forced to accept her new life when her baby boy begins talking and sings the Pepsi commercial he heard on television. He seeks to contain that power. As a result, Rafaela must ask the neighborhood kids to get her papaya juice or coconut juice. She sends down the money on a string, and the kids return with her request, tie it to the string, and she pulls it up into her room. Her father excuses his behavior based on the severity of his religion. He fears that his daughter will become like his sisters, who, it is intimated, fell from grace and shamed the family.
However, for Esperanza, Sally is exotic and sexual, someone from whom she might learn 43 to control her own burgeoning sexual power.
Esperanza asks Sally questions about beauty tricks. Unlike Sally, Esperanza has a mother who watches carefully over everything she wears: For Esperanza and for others, Sally proves to be a dangerous friend. Sally loses her best friend after trying to pierce her ears. The incident results in a fight where Sally gets bitten by the friend and called a name.
Bravely, Sally refuses to cry, but Esperanza knows that this loss is a painful one, leaving Sally without someone to confide in and share with. Before Sally goes home, she wipes off her make-up and straightens her skirt, becoming the perfect daughter for her father who locks her in the house. Esperanza wonders if Sally ever wishes she did not have to go home, if the girl ever wants to move to another house. In considering the possibility, Esperanza projects her own desires onto Sally. Only trees and more trees and plenty of blue sky.
And you could laugh, Sally. And no one could yell at you if they saw you out in the dark leaning against a car, leaning against somebody without someone thinking you are bad, without somebody saying it is 44 wrong, without the whole world waiting for you to make a mistake when all you wanted, all you wanted, Sally, was to love and to love and to love and to love, and no one could call that crazy.
Minerva is only a little older than Esperanza, and she has two children, an unstable marriage, and an abusive husband. Esperanza and Minerva exchange poems with each other. Minerva fits her creative life in around her children and her husband, a caution to Esperanza who wants to give her writing primacy in life. He beats his wife in response, then apologizes and she lets him back in.
Esperanza watches Minerva enact and accept her role as the abused wife, as she allows her husband and the suffering he brings with him to rule both her actual and creative life. They are both worn down by the circumstances. When we win the lottery. Mama begins, and then I stop listening. She realizes that whatever comes to them must be earthbound, from the hard work or generosity of one committed person. When she looks at the houses on the hills, she recognizes that the people who live in those houses are too content with their own affluence to look at what other people need, that they fear nothing and know nothing of what goes on in the neighborhoods below them.
Their willful ignorance makes Esperanza vow: She pledges this as she will always remember what it means to have the house and to have gone without it. Her sister Nenny on the other hand is pretty. She wants to pick and choose her mate. Esperanza thinks it is easy for Nenny to make these decisions because 46 her younger sister is the pretty sort of girl that men desire.
Esperanza chooses to be that woman, to take control of her power. Her mother is multitalented: She sings opera, knows how to fix the television, speaks two languages, makes beautiful pieces with needle and thread, but is unable to function outside the barrio. The city, though she has lived there her whole life, defeats and intimidates her.
Though she wants to see a play, a ballet, an opera, she does nothing to create these experiences for herself, instead living vicariously by singing along with opera albums borrowed from the library. What is perhaps most moving about Mrs. Cordero is that she knows she has given up her life. She tells her daughter to study hard and to rely solely on herself, citing other women whose husbands have left, leaving them with nothing. She urges her daughter to not accept shame but to rise above it and choose her life, rather than choosing to be subjugated because of social appearances and public opinion.
No one, particularly not Esperanza, is fooled. Sally is too old to be so clumsy, and the claim that he never hits her hard lies in direct opposition to her swollen and bruised face. She brings with her some clothes and a pathetic offering of a sweetbread from her powerless mother. That night her father comes to the house, having been crying, to beg his daughter to come home, claiming the physical abuse will not happen again.
It is hard to tell if part of his self-loathing is based on sexual abuse or if it is solely physical abuse. In either case, he reinforces the pattern of men and violence, particularly within domestic spaces, that factors so prominently in the world of the book. The monkey garden was formerly inhabited by a family with a mean monkey that bit and screeched.
Once the family left, the children of the neighborhood begin to take over the garden as a place to play, imagining that it had been there since time began. Within a few months after the former tenants had moved out, the garden begins to reclaim itself, growing over bricks and boundaries.
Cars were abandoned there, and the garden grew over them as well. This wild abundance in some ways the Garden of Eden, 48 particularly with the sexual awakening that will occur there. Esperanza plays with the other children, climbing through the cars until she realizes that Sally is missing. Immediately, Esperanza knows that this is a dangerous game. Though she cannot articulate exactly what she objects to, something in her knows that bartering sexual favors is not right.
Determined to save her friend on her own, Esperanza gathers three sticks and a brick to beat the boys off, convinced that Sally wants to be saved from the power-mongering boys. When Esperanza arrives on the scene with her arsenal, Sally tells her to go home. The boys also tell her to leave them alone, and Esperanza feels shame over what the other adolescents have made her feel is her overreaction.
She hides in the jungle of the monkey garden, where she can cry without being seen. Her shame is so great that she tries to will her heart to stop beating like the Indian priests she has read about. The event causes Esperanza to lose the garden. Like the Garden of Eden, the acquiring of knowledge has caused it to be lost forever, only in this role reversal, Esperanza is the Adam character seduced by her friendship with Sally into uncovering knowledge she does not really want to possess.
What he did. Where he touched me. At the 49 heart of the assault is Sally, who was supposed to meet Esperanza by the clowns but fails to do so. Esperanza waits, wondering where the older boy that Sally left with has taken her.
The boys sexually assault her, and Esperanza is powerless to do anything but scream until eventually she can only cry. She feels betrayed on multiple levels by Sally who does not come to save her, by all of the lies that she has heard about sexual pleasure, by waiting her whole life for a moment that turns out to be both painful and ugly. Critic Maria HerreraSobek articulates the betrayal in terms of the community: The diatribe is directed not only at Sally the silent interlocutor but at the community of women who keep the truth from the younger generation of women in a conspiracy of silence.
The protagonist discovers a conspiracy of two forms of silence: Sally marries a salesman she meets at the school bazaar and moves to another state where it is legal to get married before the eighth grade. She claims to be happy because she can buy things now, but her husband has violent tendencies like her father and, though she claims that she left for love, Esperanza believes Sally married the salesman to escape. Her husband keeps her locked tight in the house.
She cannot look out the window or talk on 50 the telephone, and friends are not allowed to visit unless he is away. In the final moment of the chapter, Sally sits inside the house looking at all of the things that they own, never realizing that she is one more owned object among them. In pre-Hispanic Mexico, the lunar goddesses, such as Tlazolteotl and Xochiquetzal, were the intermediaries for all women Westheim They are sisters to each other and, as women, sisters to Esperanza.
At the symbolic level, the sisters are linked with Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, the three fates. The child dies after a series of signs: As she stands in the room uncertain of what to do, the three old sisters call her over to them. Esperanza asks to make sure there are no limits to this wish, and they assure her there are not, so she immediately wishes for her own house.
When she is finished, the women assure her that it will come true. A circle, understand? You will always be Esperanza. You will always be Mango Street. The old woman continues, explaining that others will not be able to leave as easily as she, that she must respect them and come back to help. Esperanza promises to remember the words of the woman who dismisses Esperanza to go play with Lucy and Rachel. To enhance the strangeness and portent of the experience, Esperanza never sees the women again.
The women become, in their own way, members of the circle of women that surrounds Esperanza. These women encourage her with words, like her mother, Ruthie, and Aunt Lupe; they teach through example like Sally, Alicia, and Minerva; they share experience like Minerva, Mamacita, Lucy, and Rachel; and they offer futures like Elenita. Within this circle, Esperanza becomes the conduit for their stories and their wisdom.
Like many Chicanas, she carries the history of the community with her and learns from it. She also bears witness to the lives of the people of Mango Street. Alicia gives Esperanza a bag from her home, Guadalajara, which she treasures. She does not want to move toward a place unknown, she wants to return to the place that she knows best, her home in Mexico.
Esperanza confides in Alicia her disappointment over not having a house. A little baffled, Alicia points to the house on Mango Street, asking Esperanza whether or not this is her home. Esperanza denies it is her own: Alicia forces her to face the reality: Alicia laughs at the idea, wondering who would ever try to make it better, emphasizing again how forgotten and disenfranchised the neighborhood really is.
She and Esperanza joke that maybe the mayor will do it, but the conversation sets Esperanza wondering who will actually come to Mango Street. She is slowly coming to believe that the duty may perhaps fall to her. Both women are struggling to have space for their writing and a right to control their own lives. Esperanza determines to make the house beautiful with flowers and books, where her things stay where they are left and no one interferes or judges her decisions.
With this house, she will have the opportunity to do whatever she would like, unlike in the barrio at large, where the opportunities are limited by income, gender, language, and ethnicity. Esperanza writes about how she likes to tell stories, to narrate her own life as she lives it.
She begins to tell the story of her house on Mango Street, returning to some of the language that began the book. These first pages of her story tell her that she will be able to eventually bid farewell to Mango Street forever.
She imagines her friends and neighbors gossiping and wondering where it is she has gone and why she has to go so far away. For the ones I left behind. For the ones who cannot get out. In so doing, she will liberate the others by telling their stories.
The very act of circling back to the language of the beginning of the book suggests that Esperanza has, in fact, begun to bring the story to paper and obviously to print. This self-conscious move reinforces the act of writing as a mode of bearing witness for the many disenfranchised individuals who appear throughout The House on Mango Street. It seeks to validate Chicano texts, for both Chicano and Anglo readers, as authentic modern literature.
The methodology varies, but the two most common features are reliance on comparative criteria and stress on textual analysis. Textual critics try to show that the criteria of stylistics and more recently of structuralist criticism can reveal in a Chicano poem or narrative the types of complexity and levels of formal coherence which are found in exemplary texts of modern literature.
Meaning rather than reference to reality, becomes yet another index of the literariness of the work. What underlying assumptions characterize this approach to a given text? For one, emphasis on accepted major works as models carries the assumption that literature is a phenomenon of print, with the most respected exemplars being those valued by the educated middle class. A corollary assumption attaches relatively low value to oral literature, the product of a popular 55 culture which introduces collective themes based on concrete experience, which relies upon oral transmission, which is frequently anonymous, and which historically has provided a source of resistance to the dominant ideology.
The poet is seen as arbitrarily gifted with the quality of genius, as being endowed with special intuitive insights and access to the truth.
A further assumption is that the prime feature of a literary text is its aesthetic quality, which cannot be measured by the yardstick of meaning or cognition, for these are categories which normally rest upon criteria of reason and of reference to experienced reality.
Others seem to suggest that literature achieves universality by avoiding the regional or the immediately historical in favor of the abstract, the metaphysical, the imaginary, or the timeless themes and myths of world culture this would underestimate the importance of regional themes and historical issues in Balzac, Tolstoy, Malraux and the corpus of Spanish epic poetry. What seems involved beneath the surface of these notions is a fragmentation of categories which might otherwise be seen as interconnected, such as the artistic and the social, or the imaginary and the historical.
Certainly one can infer from this view of universality a conception of literature as distraction, or as aesthetic object, or as distinct mode of mental activity from other disciplines, or as embodied in a succession of masterpieces insulated against the ravages of time by protective jackets of brilliant thematic colors. On the positive side is a healthy stress on intensive analysis of the formal qualities of given texts. On the negative side, the bulk of this type of criticism tends to be ahistorical, concentrating on contemporary texts and their modernism.
By extension this has meant a thrust toward the assimilation of Chicano literature, or more precisely of a select number of Chicano texts, into the standard reading list of the educated reader, primarily in academe. The second line of critical approach, prominent during the s, is based on the notion of cultural uniqueness. It values Chicano literature precisely because in it one finds expression of the distinctive features of Chicano culture. An earlier philologically oriented but nonetheless culturalist variant, practiced by Aurelio Espinosa half a century ago, stressed the survival of authentic Spanish forms in the Southwest.
The critical methodology tends to stress descriptive cultural features: Some culturalist critics, waging a necessary struggle against the elitism which characterizes purist notions of literary Spanish, stress the distinguishing presence in Chicano literature of what sociolinguists term code-switching and what critics have called the binary phenomenon—a process by which linguistic symbols and syntactic structures of two languages interact in the same text.
Others stress the presence of Aztec symbols or myths. And it is from our collective subconscious that the myth of the Golden Carp arises. Anaya takes us from the subconscious to the 57 conscious, from the past to the present.
One is evident in attributing positive value to Anaya because his novel reveals traces of the Aztec world view. Stated in bare terms, it claims that present-day Chicano mental structures, by dint of a sort of Jungian operation of the collective unconscious, retain continuity with the thought patterns and cosmology of the Aztec past. Also implied is the notion that rediscovery of cultural origins imparts a healthy consciousness of uniqueness to the generations of the present.
This notion that the distant past—and here I refer to a mythic, magical past rather than to the past in a historical process of change—shapes and controls the present, regardless of social and historical developments, is by no means original. A Mexican example embodying the same anti-historical view is the essay by Octavio Paz, Posdata,6 in which the well known Mexican poet and critic attempts to explain the Tlatelolco massacre of in terms of the persistence of pre-Hispanic values and attitudes.
One is the positive value attached to tradition regardless of its content. For example, the traditional role of the church, whether in its mystical or its adaptive manifestations, is seen as integral to Chicano culture. A further tendency is to criticize the materialism, racism, and dehumanisation of contemporary capitalist society by counterposing idealistically the values of traditional culture, presenting these values as flawless and recoverable in unchanged form.
Needless to say this thesis construes culture to be static and separable from the historic process, rather than dynamic, creative and responsive to experience. Here the stress is on racial fusion, on Indian and Mexican constituent elements, with occasional references to a Hispano component. This line of thought tends to subordinate the idea that culture might be related to the social category of class, as well is the idea that cultural forms evolve in response to the specifics of the historical process.
A further implicit assumption in some culturalist criticism, not in consonance with myth criticism, is that Chicano literature can be understood only by Chicanos and interpreted only by Chicanos. In this view Chicano critics writing from a Chicano perspective and publishing in Chicano periodicals are the only reliable sources of understanding of Chicano literature. This assumes that lo chicano is good by definition, thus eliminating the critical function of literary criticism. The consequences of such an approach are reductive.
It conceives of Chicano literature as ethnic literature, designed for and limited to an ethnic readership, to be isolated academically within ethnic studies programs. It supposes that Chicano literature is distinct from other literatures which may in fact have comparable structural features such as an oral tradition or the bilingual mode or historical 59 trajectories involving confrontation with class exploitation and institutional racism.
It abandons the struggle to redefine exclusivist views of American literature. And finally, whereas formalism tends to ignore the past, focusing on modernism and its virtues, a culturalist approach tends to ignore the present, stressing in nostalgic and idealized terms the predominance of the past. For the label-minded it can include the work of Marxists but is not practiced exclusively by Marxist critics.
It begins by explaining the singular formal qualities of a text which distinguish it from alternate modes of verbal expression.
It must also account for the manner in which a given text rejects, modifies and incorporates features of other texts which have preceded it. Analysis, then, includes the notion of intertextuality, the response to literary tradition. Since the critic sees literature as a cultural product, the text is also studied in relation to its cultural ambience, which means in the light of an understanding of societal structures.
Finally the critic assumes that to experience literary texts, even in their most fantastic and abstract variants, is a form of cognition, for the text comments upon, refers to and interprets human experience. Treating critical approaches dialectically, the critic does not reject formalism or culturalist analysis out of hand, but tries to incorporate their positive features into a system which transcends their self-imposed limitations.
Hence this third approach incorporates into its methodology the concerns of the sociology of literature, which range from analyzing the material conditions and the intellectual climate of literary production to interpreting the reception and the impact of a given text. Another dialectical aspect of this approach is its attempt to identify an internal Chicano literary dynamic and simultaneously to account for interactions with both 60 Mexican and North American middle class and popular literary traditions.
Notes 2. Much of what is passed off as literature is a compendium of folklore, religious superstition, and recipes for tortillas. All well and good, but it is not literature. Quinto Sol, , p. Siglo XXI, The Mexican American. A Symposium. Edinburg, Texas: I do not intend in my own departure from culturalist thought to imply that non-Chicano critics will have just as much light to shed as Chicano critics.
This distinction underlies the entire structure of their important volume, Theory of Literature New York: Harcourt Brace, 2nd ed. Literary critics have awarded many of these texts canonical status.
The regional dialects of criticism that are accepted must be compatible, ideologically as well as semantically, with the dominant discourse.
Criticism, for example, that questions the canonical status of the introspective texts mentioned above, or suggests admission to the canon of texts that depart from such individualistic notions of the self, is often labeled pejoratively or excluded from academic institutions and publication avenues. In bold contrast to the individualistic introspection of many canonical texts, Cisneros writes a modified autobiographical novel, or Bildungsroman, that roots the individual self in the broader socio-political reality of the Chicano community.
As we will see, the story of individual development is oriented outwardly here, away from the bourgeois individualism of many standard texts. Although making the text accessible to people with a wider range of reading abilities, such simple and well-crafted prose is not currently in canonical vogue.
For the migrant worker who has moved continuously because of job exigencies and who, like many others in the Chicano community, has been deprived of an adequate place to live because of the inequities of income distribution in U.
You live there? The way she said it made me feel like nothing. I bet I can see your house from my window. That one? This early connection of the ideal house to fiction is developed throughout the collection, especially in the final two stories. I write it down and Mango says goodbye sometimes.
She does not hold me with both arms. She sets me free. It is important, however, that she view her departure from the Mango Street house to enable her artistic production in social rather than isolationist terms: Unlike those who own such houses now, Esperanza assures us that, were she to obtain such a house, she would not forget the people who live below: Passing bums will ask, Can I come in? The majority of stories in The House on Mango Street. We must work toward a broader understanding among literary critics of the importance of such issues to art in order to attain a richer, more diverse canon and to avoid the undervaluation and oversight of such valuable texts as The House on Mango Street.
Notes 1. Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, , and passim. Subsequent references will be to this edition and will appear in the text. They consist primarily of reviews in Texas newspapers and articles in Chicano journals. Cisneros has returned to a Chicago barrio, teaching creative writing at an alternative high school for drop-outs.
Annie O. Mango Street and the house Esperanza lives in constitute her world, the world she has to come to grips with as she grows up.
It is her response to this particular environment, the interplay between psychological and social forces, that determines the direction of her Bildungs process. Esperanza recalls her family history of moving from one dilapidated house to another until they finally move into their own house on Mango Street, yet the house is not what the family had hoped for: Our house would be white with trees around it, a great big yard and grass growing without a fence.
This was the house Papa talked about when he held a lottery ticket and this was the house Mama dreamed up in the stories she told us before we went to bed. But the house on Mango Street is not the way she told it at all. This contrast between expectation and reality awakens her awareness of herself as a social being and provokes her own interpretations of the significance the house holds in her life.
Esperanza sees the house on Mango Street as a symbol of poverty that she associates with the humiliation she has felt in the past, living in similar places: Where do you live? There, I said, pointing up to the third floor.
I lived there. I nodded. To Esperanza the house on Mango Street is an emblem of the oppressive socioeconomic situation that circumscribes her life and is the source of her feelings of alienation. According to Cirlot, breathing is a process whereby one assimilates spiritual power. I knew then I had to have a house. For the time being, Mama said. Temporary, said Papa.
But I know how these things go. Through her own interpretative agency she now knows that she cannot rely on what her parents tell her and that they will not be able to provide her with the house that she needs. Like the house, Mango Street is the physical and psychological marker of an oppressive socioeconomic situation that makes Esperanza conscious of her own status in a socioeconomic hierarchy: They think we will attack them with shiny knives.
They are stupid people who are lost and got here by mistake. Their strength is secret. When I am a tiny thing against so many bricks, then it is I look at trees. When there is nothing left to look at on this street. Four who grew despite concrete. Four who reach and do not forget to reach. In her longing to escape her present circumstances, Esperanza sees the trees as role models for her own liberation: The young narrator has internalized the worldview and experiences of her parents, her friends, and the society of which she is a part as she strives to locate her identity.
She therefore embodies a submissive female model that the young Esperanza must reject. But Esperanza would like to go even farther: Esperanza as Lisandra or Maritza or Zeze the X. Among Chicana writers, many have been inspired by the representation of power and control of such Aztec goddesses as Coatlicue, and the nurturing tradition of the Christian Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. The curandera has two attributes: The curandera possesses intuitive and cognitive skills; her connection to and interrelation with the natural world is part of her ancient knowledge.
The fact that the curandera has emerged as a powerful figure in the writing of both women and men demonstrates not only her enduring representational qualities as myth and symbol but also the close identification of the culture with her mystic and spiritual qualities Rebolledo 83— All rights reserved.
The math test was extremely hard. However, it is still important for you to take part in the story by making your own infer- ences, educated guesses, about the characters. Understand the narrator. Make inferences. The special kids, the ones who wear keys around their necks, A canteen line 2 is a place get to eat in the canteen. The canteen! Even the name where food or drink can be obtained.
Canteen comes sounds important. Underline eat in the canteen too. Describe 10 Oh no, she says pointing the butter knife at me as if what you know about the narrator so far. You kids just like to invent more work for me. Knopf in Read the para- to eat at school either. And besides, I know how to make my own lunch. You would see me less narrative the author writes in present tense and does and less and like me better.
Every day at noon my chair not always tell you who is would be empty. Where is my favorite daughter you would speaking or to whom she is speaking. Re-read lines 24— Okay, okay, my mother says after three days of this. Think about lunch meat. But lunch time came finally and I got to get in line with the stay-at-school kids. Everything is fine until the nun who knows all the canteen 40 kids by heart looks at me and says: This is no good, she says, till Sister Superior gives the okay.
Go upstairs and see her. And so I went. I had to wait for two kids in front of me to get hollered at, one because he did something in class, the other because Re-read lines 36— My turn came and I stood in front of the big desk kind of school the writer attends. It went like this: Pause at line Why or because she lives too far away and she gets why not? As you can see she is very skinny.
I hope to God she does not faint. Thanking you, Mrs. You live across the boulevard. Not even. Three maybe. Three long blocks away from here. I bet I can see your house from my 60 window. Which one? Come here. Which one is your house? And then she made me stand up on a box of books Pause at line Boulevard is a word borrowed from and point. That one? Esperanza gives us a reason Then she was sorry and said I could stay—just for for her crying at the end of the story lines 65— What today, not tomorrow or the day after—you go home.
And may be another reason she cries lines 71—73?
I said yes and could I please have a Kleenex—I had to blow 70 my nose. In the canteen, which was nothing special, lots of boys and girls watched while I cried and ate my sandwich, the bread already greasy and the rice cold. But how did you find out? The story gives you clues in the form of first-person pronouns that Esperanza uses to refer to herself.
Re-read lines 32—35 to find all four clues. Write those Literary Skills Analyze the pronouns on the lines below. Clue 1: