The House on Mango Street

The House on Mango Street

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The House on Mango Street

 

 

At the novel's end, Esperanza declares that she is too strong for Mango Street to keep her forever. What is the nature of her strength? How does Cisneros establish this characteristic elsewhere in the book?

 

Esperanza feels she is too strong to live on Mango Street. She feels her life would be better if she lived somewhere else. She wants to leave Mango Street so that she can find herself. Esperanza knows that she is not like the others on Mango Street, and she wants to move to a place "with trees around it, a big yard and grass growing without a fence" (page 4). To leave, she must have strength. Where will she get it? I believe her strength comes from within.

 

Esperanza builds her strength off the mishaps that occur while living on Mango Street. In the vignettes, Esperanza describes some very interesting things that take place on Mango Street. She recalls a time when Sally befriended her and told Esperanza to leave her alone with the boys. Esperanza felt out of place and was very uncomfortable and very ashamed to be in that situation. She wanted more from life than that, so she left the scene.

 

There was another time when Esperanza wanted to eat lunch in the canteen at school. She was not allowed to eat at school, because she lived close enough to walk home for lunch. But, Esperanza wanted to feel special like the other kids, so she convinced her mother to write a note to the nun in charge giving her permission to eat in the school canteen. The mother wrote the note, but the nun was not convinced. So, she made Esperanza go to the window and point to her house. She was too ashamed to point to the old-run-down home where she lived. This was one of her most embarrassing moments. Not to be outdone, Esperanza said, "I knew then I had to have a house. A real house. One I could point to" (page5).

 

In "Four Skinny Trees," Esperanza compares herself to the four skinny trees outside her house. Like the trees, she too, has not found her place in the world.

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Like the trees that are trapped in concrete, she too, feels trapped on Mango Street. But, like the trees, she will grow, and reach and be. "Four who grew despite concrete. Four who reach and do not forget to reach. Four whose reason is to be and be" (page 75).

 

Esperanza gains strength of character by the many negative things that she sees on Mango Street. Each incident is an opportunity for her to hang on to her optimistic views in spite of her limitations on Mango Street. Seeing the four skinny trees especially increases her desire to leave Mango Street and lay new roots somewhere else.
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