House on Mango Street Theme

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The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is about Esperanza Cordero, a girl living in Chicago struggling to identify who she is. Through the experiences Esperanza encounters, she feels neglected living in a culture where women are considered inferior to men. Observing different figures around her, Esperanza begins to question her own identity, and starts to grab her own power, and eventually decides to be independent. Through metaphors, epiphanies and symbolism, Cisneros conveys that repression and stereotypes with a person ultimately compels them to desire and search for self identity through experiences, and emotions Through the use of symbolism, Cisneros is able to portray how Esperanza is feeling restricted to a certain destiny as a female. For example, Cisneros uses windows to symbolize the confinement of a person. In the vignette Rafaela Who Drinks Coconut & Papaya Juice on Tuesdays, Esperanza notices Rafaela, “lean[ing] out the window and lean[ing] on her elbow and dream[ing] her hair is like Rapunzel’s” (79). Windows are a symbol of being trapped as Rafaela can only see the world through a window, and does not get to experience the outside world. Rafaela is trapped and powerless and is locked inside by her husband. Only viewing the world from the inside, she desires to be able to dance and have fun while she is still young. Another instance of this occurs in Linoleum Roses where windows continue to symbolize confinement. Sally, who has married at a very young age, is not allowed to look outside through the window, which is the only way to connect with the outside while being locked inside. In addition to windows, Cisneros uses the symbol of a ball and chain to define being repressed by men. Seeing the women around her, Esperanza soon realizes that being a woman, she will have the same destiny as anyone else, being a woman tamed by male figures. In Beautiful & Cruel, Esperanza declares, “I have decided not to grow up tame like the others who...
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