Review of Sandra Cisneros' Short Story Hips

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Every woman remembers that time in her life where her body began to change: appearances changed, behaviors changed, and the way one looked and felt about oneself changed. For most people, this time is one of the most awkward and is not one of the subjects most talked about in conversations or written about; but Sandra Cisneros has, very charmingly and humorously, taken this subject and turned it into one of the situations her famous character, Esperanza, goes through in her book, The House on Mango Street. In her short story titled simply “Hips”, Sandra Cisneros tells the story of Esperanza and three other girls discussing theories of what hips are and what functions they have; but more importantly Cisneros is subtly exploring what kind of divide the ripening of this body feature brings.

Sandra Cisneros revolves her story around Esperanza, her younger sister, Nenny, and her two best friends, sisters Lucy and Rachel, discussing hips while playing double-dutch. Throughout this short story Cisneros, through Esperanza and the girls, is trying to explain what hips are: are they just a body part or is there more to them? She goes through them as the physical body parts they are. According to the girls, they widen so a woman can carry a baby, they are obviously a powerful feature that catches eyes, and they are needed to move when dancing; but underneath the words of Cisneros’ characters, there is a new meaning to the word “hips”. She is using the word as a divide between childhood and soon-to-be full womanhood. In other words, when a girl’s hips arrive she is automatically in a different world than those girls still without them; she demonstrates this idea through Nenny, the youngest of all the girls, especially towards the end of the story. Meanwhile, each girl shares her own theory of what hips are and what they are for. Even though Sandra Cisneros never concretely tells her readers, “this is what hips are,” or, “these are their functions and ‘such and such’ is...
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