The and the people in the barrio,

The House on Mango Street Analysis           When people face obstacles they forget that those same experiences and tragedies often shape an individual’s outlook on life and inspire personal growth from within. The novel, The House on Mango Street reminds its readers that even in the worst of times there are still lessons to be learned as seen through the eyes of a girl named Esperanza. The coming of age story deals with dark underlying struggles blanketed in the innocent viewpoint of a child forced to grow up frighteningly quick. The main protagonist, a young Chicano girl, shows the audience of the importance of learning from past experience in order to form an identity entirely based on the individuals own volition. Sandra Cisneros, The author of The House on Mango Street, uses Esperanza’s struggles caused by her race,gender, and economic status to instill the theme of self discovery through one’s identity.           Growing up as a young Chicano girl affected Esperanza’s experiences throughout her life. A large emphasis was placed on her ethnicity by the author to build part of her identity. The main character is struggling to find her place within the world, and is not receptive to what she finds. Even though Esperanza did not want to be associated with it at first, her own identity is connected to the community she is a part of. The barrio shares similar memories with Esperanza. In “Those Who Don’t,” The young girl is exposed to the preconceived fears whites have about Hispanics and vice Versa. “All brown all around, we are safe. But watch us drive into a neighborhood of another color and our knees go shakity-shake and our car windows get rolled up tight and our eyes look straight. Yeah. That is how it goes and goes.” It is the connection between the character to the people and location she desperately wants to be rid of, bringing a sense of familiarity through shared experiences. This shows the similarities between the young girl and the people in the barrio, and it instills the idea that no matter how hard Esperanza tries she will never fully loose the ties between her and the community. Esperanza knows Mango Street will not be her home forever, but she will return with the intent to help others. “You will always be Mango Street,” the ladies tell her. “You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.” Cisneros leaves the audience to think that she will move away, but she will not abandon her culture entirely. Although she does not want to fall into the trap of the environment, she comes to the conclusion that her heritage is not something she can escape.           As a young child, Esperanza’s experiences are all based on living in a poor neighborhood where the other citizens stand idly by and do nothing to change it. The young girl is the opposite of the others and wants a better life for her future.  The thought driven girl, Esperanza is motivated to be one of the individuals who get out of Mango Street in pursuit of a life she is proud of. As a result, Esperanza starts to resent the circumstances placed upon her and is further strengthened when a woman tells her, “You live there? The way she said it made me feel like nothing. There. I lived there. I nodded.” Cisneros shows how the main character is desperately ashamed by the idea of having to live in a poverty stricken area for the rest of her life. As a result, she works hard enough to accomplish getting her own house in  “A House of My Own”, “Not a flat. Not an apartment in the back. Not a mans house. Not a daddy’s. A house of all my own. Esperanza throughout the novel realizes she needs to get a better life for herself and this experience drives her in succeeding in having her own life not stricken with poverty when she states, “I write it down and Mango says goodbye sometimes. She does not hold me with Both arms. She sets me free.” Ultimately, Esperanza has accepted Mango Street and her experiences with poverty, and it results in a better future due to the circumstances in her childhood.          A fiercely independent character, Esperanza does not want to fall into the trap of being a women defined by stereotypical gender roles. Sandra Cisneros makes sure the readers are aware of this when Esperanza thinks about her grandmother, “I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window.”  Thus, making the main character resilient to the idea that women have to adhere with the traditional standards set by previous generations. This ideology is then challenged by the over pouring of stories the main character hears from the women in the community. For example, her friend Sally who is constantly being abused by the men in her life and mistaking it for love. Esperanza finds herself in situations that were made out to be fairytales by girls like Sally, but in reality were the opposite. The protagonist is too strong of a character to fall into tragic Chicano stereotypes. She represents the voices in the community who have been hushed due to being a woman. Esperanza’s inner thoughts are revealed when she says, “…but I think this is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like the Mexicans, don’t like their women strong.” This is Esperanza’s ability to see beyond the surface of her community, energized by her love for writing, which keeps her from falling into the trap the other women in her community have grown accustomed to. This is seen when Esperanza states, “They will not know I have gone away to come back. For the ones I left behind. For the ones who cannot out.” With Esperanza’s trials the author ensures the audience’s understanding of the main character’s identity, which is entirely based on breaking flawed cycles from the characters who surround her.           Overall, Sandra Cisneros was able to portray the theme of self discovery through identity by using race,gender and economic status. Esperanza’s s experiences as a young Chicano girl result in the resentment for her culture, but she then later realizes it is a part of of who she is. The struggles the young girl faces such as poverty allowed her to strive and achieve a better life in the end. The strong character, Esperansa does not fall into gender norms perpetuated by the women in the community and breaks the cycle of stereotypes placed upon them. With Esperanza’s powerful journey, Cisneros effectively instills the notion in her novel that self discovery is found through one’s own identity.                                             

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