The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

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A Home in the Heart is Not One to Depart*

In the novel, The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros’s narrator, Esperanza, gradually learns there is no real correlation between a physical structure and a home; rather a home is made from things such as love, family, culture, tradition, and memories, not bricks and mortar.

The opening vignette of Cisneros’s novel, introduces the reader to Esperanza’s intense feeling of displacement. Throughout the book, she feels as though she has no place to call her home. Although they have a house, she is embarrassed of it and does not connect with it in such a way where she is truly comfortable with it. The house on Mango Street only fuels her desire, “to have a house. A real house. One [she]could point to” because “[their current house on Mango Street] isn’t it”. (5)

As the vignettes progress, Esperanza’s embarrassment of her home grows. In “A Rice Sandwich” all Esperanza wants to do is eat lunch in the canteen with the children who live too far away from school to eat at their homes. But this desire only leads to what one can assume is a life scarring experience. After reading the note sent to ask for special permission to allow Esperanza to stay, Sister Superior forces Esperanza to “stand up on a box of books and point [to her home]”. Esperanza nods her head and says, yes, to a home that is not even her own. Yet, the expectation that the nun has of her living in an ugly flat with raggedy men around it, makes her cry. Although Mango Street is still not her home at this point, Esperanza learns that other places, like the canteen, are “nothing special” (45), perhaps suggesting to the reader that Esperanza is starting to mature and look at her home “situation” in a different light.
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