Critical on The House on Mango St. Chapter 1.

 

Not being exactly what she expected, the house on Mango Street is, still, in some ways better than what she has been accustomed to in the past. The Cordero family had to deal with landlords in their previous several apartments that they had rented.

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Esperanza explains, “I knew then I had to have a house. A real house. One I could point to. But this isnt it. The house on Mango Street isnt it. For the time being, Mama says. Temporary, says Papa. But I know how those things go.”1 Of course, her life, like the house, is filled with broken promises.

This home that Esperanza was envisioning, however, is a metaphor for a larger concept at work: the idea that she would be able to develop as an individual. “[Esperanza’s] visions of a home…can [be] interpret[ed by] the familys absence as a natural expression of Esperanzas normal, healthy, adolescent need to discover herself as an individual. As opposed to a mere “house,” a “real home” functions as symbolic shorthand for a fully developed identity.”2

Coming to the second point, Esperanza’s real life is filled with despair as is understood by the tone of the story. She is frustrated with her ethnic hair that is not straight like that which society approves of, thus compounding her impoverished state: “… [Her] hair is lazy. It never obeys barrettes or bands.”3

She does have dreams of one day cultivating friendships that are long-lasting and personal, when she says, “Someday, I will have a best friend all my own. One I can tell my secrets to. One who will understand my jokes without me having to explain them.”4

Of course, this story comes from facts garnered from the author’s own life memories. These small vignettes are based on several true stories, stories from author Sandra Cisneros’s life living in the Latin ghetto in Chicago. Sandra lived “…in a family that…visit[ed] her fathers family [often].

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