The House on Mango Street

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When I grow up, I want to be a black gum tree. Black gum trees are known for their internal strength. Instead of dwelling on outward beauty, they spend more time focusing on their inner growth and developing their core. Only after they have achieved this goal can they produce beautiful fruits that draw animals near to them. Any surfaces that the berries touch are stained as to say, “I was here and made a permanent difference.” After they have utilized their outward influences, they use their internal scars and hollow places to protect the animals surrounding around it. If human lives were to reflect the concepts of the black gum tree, governments, individuals, and communities would be radically transformed. While this is a beautiful image, communities will never fully reach this aspiration. Sandra Cisneros shows the positive and negative effect of community on human growth in The House on Mango Street when Esperanza subconsciously reads the four skinny trees as a stand-in for herself.

The layer of concrete surrounding the roots of the trees is a metaphor for the barrier between Esperanza’s success and her community. These four skinny trees are located in the middle of an impoverished city that is plagued with crime, prostitution, and sense of hopelessness. Because all of these cycles are nearly impenetrable, they are a metaphor for the concrete that lay on top of their roots. This slab will forever sit on top of the downward facing roots separating them from the vertical growth that is above them. Ironically, the roots under the concrete support the same slab that is hindering their growth. Without the support of the individuals living on Mango Street, the layer of socially formed concrete would crumble into dust; however, becau...

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...Cisneros 110). Her internal strength is strong enough to let her grow beyond the constraints of her community, but she will never reach her full potential until she returns to change the roots that made her that way. Esperanza then chooses to develop the core of her personality despite living in the middle of tangled roots, which ultimately leads to her escape.

When I grow up, I want to be Esperanza. I want to think critically, exhort change, find beautiful elements in ordinary texts, and affect my fallen community with the fruits of my internal strength. If Esperanza had not chosen to use both the positive and negative effects of her community as inspiration, she would have entrapped herself and failed to influence the hurting society around her. Instead, she chooses to act like the trees and build her internal strength so that she may reach others effectively.

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