The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

April 24, 2012
In the novel The House on Mango Street, Esperanza experiences many unique situations. She fights to break free of the cycle on Mango Street of getting married young, and living there forever. Esperanza's mental struggle between reluctance and willingness to grow up on Mango Street is shown through her interest in boys, her hesitation toward becoming an adult, and fear of what Mango Street could make her become
Throughout the story, we see Esperanza’s wavering interest in boys. She is both excited about what they could bring and afraid of what they could make her become. In the beginning of the book, she states that boys and girls are completely different. However, as the book progresses, the reader sees that Esperanza develops an interest in boys. She says “I want to sit out bad at night, a boy around my neck and wind under my skirt” (Cisneros 73). This shows that she is more interested in the idea of having an escape, instead of actually being in love. She sees people all around her who are getting married to run away from their troubles. In the beginning of the novel, she wants very badly to break away from her own difficulties. As she grows up though, she discovers being married will only bring more problems. In the novel, we also see how she starts to feel a fear towards males as she sees different situations that could happen with them. She says in the vignette “The Monkey Garden”, “Something wanted to say no when I saw Sally going into the garden with Tito’s buddies all grinning” (96). She shows that even though she has matured in her mind, she still displays some childhood innocence. Also, later on in the story she is assaulted by a male, and feels ashamed and broken inside. It is after this event that she begins a loathing towards finding a husband.
As the book develops, Esperanza acts both childish and mature. The reader sees this when her grandfather dies, and her own father is depressed. She, as the oldest, feels the need to comfort him. She says “I will have to them to be quiet today” (57). This is important because it shows that she doesn’t think of herself as a child in times of crisis. However, she has different views of what being adult is. In the vignette “Sally” she imagines acting and dressing like Sally does. She says “My mother says to wear black so young is dangerous, but I want to buy shoes just like yours Sally, like your black ones made out of suede, just like those”(82). This shows that she has a single view of being adult. This view is that as you grow up, life can be more exciting but also more dangerous. Throughout the story, she never truly feels like a grown woman, even though she experiences many hardships.
Most commonly seen in this story is how Esperanza fears living on Mango Street forever. She constantly says she doesn’t want to become a woman by the window. Although the reader may see it as a woman at home, looking out of her window, Esperanza sees it as a woman being trapped by her husband. In the vignette “My Name” she displays the origin of her name, from her great-grandmother. Her great-grandmother reluctantly became a woman by the window. In the same vignette she says “Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window” (11). She feels that she must free herself from Mango Street. She does this eventually through writing. Esperanza says “One day I will pack my bags of books and paper. One day I will say good-bye to Mango” (110). She knows that if she can remove herself from marrying young, or becoming a rebellious teenager, she can leave Mango Street, but not forever. At the end of the book she realizes that she must come back for the people who could not leave as easily as she could.

In the novel, Esperanza's mental struggle between reluctance and willingness to grow up on Mango Street is shown through her interest in boys, her wavering adulthood, and fear of what Mango Street could make her become. Esperanza is strong and courageous for becoming someone different than what her community displays. She doesn’t want to become another woman stuck on Mango Street because she had never tried harder for a better future.





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