Growing Up in Poverty
In the novel, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, a young confused girl has trouble finding herself as she grows up in the Latino section of Chicago. Esperanza and her family move to a small, crumbling red house in a poor urban neighborhood. Determined, she decides that someday she will leave and move somewhere else and totally forget everything about Mango Street. Throughout the novel, Esperanza significantly matures sexually and emotionally. The many stories of her neighbors gives a full image of what Mango Street is like and showing the many possible paths Esperanza may follow in the near future. However towards the end, she begins to write as a way of expressing herself and as a way to escape the neighborhood. When Esperanza finds herself emotionally ready to leave her neighborhood, she discovers that she will never fully be able to leave Mango Street behind, and decides she will return to help the others she has left. Major themes are presented right away at the beginning of the novel. Three of the most prominent themes introduced in the first chapters are struggling to find true identity, the unfairness of gender roles, and society and class.
First of all, a theme that is present in the first section of the novel is the struggle to find one's true identity. Esperanza explains about her name: "In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting" (Cisneros 10). The protagonist clearly hates her name for many reasons. Meaning hope in English, her name carries many implications like expressing her Mexican heritage. However, it also has a sense of waiting or expectation and Esperanza does not want to live up to those meanings of her name. After she describes the bad aspects about her name, Esperanza states, "I would like to baptize myself under a name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees...Something like Zeze the X will do" (11). By Esperanza desiring to change...
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