An Invisible Shield Essay

An Invisible Shield Essay

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Every community has their own standards for the men, women and children. If a child were to grow up in a white dominant, high-class town like Poway, CA, they would be expected to complete high school, go to college, get a well-paid job and then marry in their mid-twenties. In The House on Mango Street, a Hispanic, second-class community expects their women to grow up, drop out of school, marry early to escape their family and depend on their husband. For a girl who grows up in that kind of society, it will most likely become her fate. No matter what her dreams may be, there is an established invisible shield that blocks most of the women from escaping their mother's and grandmother's destiny of a sheltered housewife. Cisneros writes what Esperanza experiences as she grows up and how she tries to understand the role of gender and break free of her neighborhood. As Cisneros tells the tragic stories of the women Esperanza encounters through her metaphoric vignettes, she also shows the reader how Esperanza observes and learns to escape the harsh realities that surround her and become the free spirit that Esperanza naturally is.

"Boys and Girls" is the first vignette in the book that describes the gender roles that Esperanza grows up with. The "separate worlds" inhabited by boys and girls is like a metaphor for the sexism and stereotypes that Esperanza has to deal with and longs to escape. Near the end of this chapter, she describes herself as "a [red] balloon tied to an anchor." Here, Esperanza shows the reader how she is very different from the rest of the girls and knows it. The red balloon wishes to fly free, but cannot due to the anchor which is her family. She is resentful of the responsibilities and obligations th...


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...e it a reality.

The House on Mango Street is not a complicated book to read, but it is so simple that the reader can easily miss what Cisneros really means to convey. For most women in this story, there is an invisible shield that keeps them from doing what they want to do and leave their sadness at the window. Through Esperanza's life, we see that for some, there is still hope to escape and soar away. Gender roles, the responsibilities to others and examples set in front of Esperanza did not stop her from getting her own house and becoming a writer. She took all the tragic experiences of her friends and neighbors and used it as a tool to increase her wisdom. Although she may have escaped, she is still close to her roots and knows where she came from. Although she may have flown away and became her own person, she still knows how to fly back to her heritage.

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