The Sexist Prejudices Affecting Women in the House on Mango Street

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The Sexist Prejudices Affecting Women in The House on Mango Street In my essay I am going to write about the Mexican gender based prejudices and stereotypes which affect the women of Esperanza’s neighborhood in Sandra Cisneros’s novel The House on Mango Street. I would like to point out the lives of the main women characters and their dealing with the prejudices in everyday occasions. Futhermore, I want to talk about Esperanza and her attitude towards the surrounding situation and also mention the historical background of the problem. From my point of view, the fact that the women come from the Mexican community has essentially influenced their lives. It has actually predetermined them in a way that the women are not able to set free for the rest of their lives. During the novel the reader gets to know some of the Mexican prejudices in relation to women which all the female characters have to face. The sexist prejudice is clear from having read few lines of the novel where Esperanza, the narrator, explains the meaning of her name with the connection to the Chinese signs of the zodiac, “I think this is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like the Mexicans, don’t like their women strong” (Cisneros 10). This tells the reader one important fact. The Mexicans are proprietary towards their women and wives and they tries to take over the women’s lives. It is very difficult for the women coming from the Mexican community to live their own life themselves and to be independent of their social background. This observation is confirmed by Elizabeth Coonrod Martinez in her work on the relationships of women with men in the novels based on this phenomenon, “women characters do not initiate events in their own lives; instead they endure poverty and racism from the society at large and oppression under the men in their lives. They do not get to choose their spouses, and when they do pick a boyfriend, and get pregnant, they are considered bad girls. They do not have choice-before or after marriage” (131). The author of the book gives a notion what the status of women in the Mexican community in the novel is. They are supposed to stay at home, preferably, “behind a rolling pin” (Cisneros 31). Moreover, many of the women are locked at home or cannot leave the house without their spouses’ permission. This fact is obvious at many times in the novel. At first, when Esperanza talks about her great-grandmother, she describes her as a woman that had spent all her life on her elbows by the window. At this point, where Esperanza describes her great-grand mother, she also says something about herself, “I don’t want to inherit her place by the window” (Cisneros 11). Later, this fact is emphasized by the story of the woman called Rafaela, whose fulfilment of the life is to sit by the window. As the narrator reports, “Rafaela, who is still young but getting old from leaning out the window so much, gets locked indoors because her husband is afraid Rafaela will run away since she is too beautiful to look at” (Cisneros 79). The women are regarded as the property of their husbands or their fathers, never independent. In my oppinion, the situation is even made worse by the fact that the protagonists are living in the United States. The women maybe would have accepted this role if they had lived in Mexico, where they would not see any difference in other women’s lives. That is impossible for them now, to fit in the community rules that are expected to be obeyed. Instead, some women pretend to be a part of the traditional society on the one hand, but on the other, they are more American than Mexican. This is the case of Sally, a young Mexican girl from the community of Chicanos, with a strict father and brought up in a very strict, religious and tradionally Mexican family. Sally who must obey her father and accept his way of life and who wants to be an American. For a clearer explanation, her behaviour is described as follows, “and why do you...
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