The House on Mango Street Cultural Values

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The House on Mango Street Cultural Values Sandra Cisneros' strong cultural values greatly influence The House on Mango Street. Esperanza's life is the medium that Cisneros uses to bring the Latin community to her audience. The novel deals with the Catholic Church and its position in the Latin community. The deep family connection within the barrio also plays an important role in the novel. Esperanza's struggle to become a part of the world outside of Mango Street represents the desire many Chicanos have to grow beyond their neighborhoods. Religion holds a powerful position in the lives of Latinos. It provides a built in censor of right and wrong in the form of extreme guilt (Aranda 150). The chapter "A Rice Sandwich" divulges the way guilt is established. Here Esperanza wants to eat at the canteen for lunch, but the nuns just insult her, and this makes her cry. She says they were "...pointing to a row of three ugly flats, the one the raggedy men are ashamed to go into. Yes...though I knew that wasn't my house" (Cisneros 45). The fact that her victimizers were nuns made her even more embarrassed about where she lived than she already was. Family can either be a brick of foundation or a wrecking ball in the Chicano world. Cisneros says, "We're very family centered, and that family extends to the whole Raza" (Aranda 150). Throughout Mango Street Esperanza's family is a brick of foundation. Esperanza's best friend is her sister. She also has fun at her aunt's expense, and she inherits her grandmother's first name. This inheritance symbolizes the strong family bond of Latinos in their effort to keep the family names alive. Esperanza dreams of someday having a satisfying life. She doesn't want her path of freedom to be cleared by having a baby or finding a husband. She has no desires to fall into the trap of dependency. As the author writes, "Her power is her own. She will not give it away" (Cisneros 89).
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