While living in the neighborhood of mango street, the young, main character, Esperanza, goes through the daily, real life struggles and obstacles to find herself. She also goes through hard times, and gains wisdom from certain things she experiences throughout the book. Cisneros explains how the neighborhood and Esperanza's home were through Esperanza and her life. Esperanza and her friends have things happen that makes them start to see things differently, and how the world really is. This book could open up the eyes of people who did not realize that this stuff actually goes on in the lives of young people. They are often misguided and led into wrong paths that are not always good for them.Chapter 1: The House on Mango Street
Esperanza, the young narrator (who does not introduce herself at first), explains how her family moved around a lot before coming to live on Mango Street. There are six members of the family – Esperanza, her Mama and Papa, her younger sister Nenny, and her younger brothers Carlos and Kiki. They moved out of their last apartment because the pipes broke and the landlord wouldn’t fix them.
Cisneros introduces her narrative style in this first section – short chapters that also act as individual vignettes or prose poems. Esperanza does not introduce herself yet, as she is still constructing a name and identity for herself, and for now her story is more about her observations and memories.
Language and Names Theme Icon Foreigness and Society Theme Icon Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
The family had always dreamed of owning their own house, a white house with lots of rooms and trees in the yard, but the house on Mango Street is small and falling apart. It is still an improvement over their earlier residences, though, as at least they own the house and so don’t have to deal with landlords. At their old apartment a nun from Esperanza’s school had seen Esperanza playing out front and made her feel ashamed of where she lived.
The dream of a better, more beautiful, and more autonomous house will carry on throughout the book – Esperanza and her family and neighbors are always hoping and dreaming of something better. The nun’s comment is the first example of society shaming Esperanza for her race and class.
Foreigness and Society Theme Icon Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon Dreams and Beauty Theme Icon
Esperanza’s parents assure her that the house on Mango Street is only temporary, but Esperanza doubts their word. She still clings to the dream of having her own house, one she can be proud of, and she remains dissatisfied with the house on Mango Street.