The Trauma of Mango Street
The House on Mango Street is a story of a young girl who lives on a poor street in Chicago. During the story the young girl, whose name is Esperanza, has various interactions with the people of the street as well as both witnessing and experiencing an assortment of events. The story goes from being sad to being upbeat, and even to being reflective, but there is an element to the characters’ that is seemingly always there. That element is trauma. While it is not always acknowledged or even recognized, trauma is usually present, and plays a part in the lives of everyone.
Often, in The House on Mango Street, an event that could be perceived as traumatic is barely registered by the participants of the event. A good example from the novel is found in the chapter “Louie, His Cousin and His Other Cousin”. When Esperanza and her friends are picked up in an apparently stolen car by her friend’s cousin Louie, they are all in great spirits. Soon after that they are told to get out of the car and the cousin speeds off from the police. While all of this is happening, the children are unaffected. The narrator writes of the incident in a sort of straight-faced irony, writing of the crash- "the nose of that yellow Cadillac was all pleated like and alligator's" (Cisneros, 25) and of the arrest- "and we all waved as they drove away" (Cisneros, 25). The way it is written shows that they are well weathered to the site of crime. This is a minor event that would normally be classified as traumatic, but turns out not to be because of the desensitized members of the community who are involved.
While the narrator often breezes by many traumas, especially those that would be considered crime- related, she is very adept at understanding others’ personal pain and the effects that pain has on their lives. In the chapter “Alicia Who Sees Mice”, we are introduced to Alicia, a character who Esperanza looks up to. We are told of the torment she...
Cited: Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.
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