House on Mango Street Significance Term Paper

Pages: 3 (1243 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Urban Studies

House on Mango Street

Significance of a House' in the House on Mango Street

In the 'House on Mango Street', author Sandra Cisneros uses the symbol of a house to represent the desire for freedom, for self-actualization, for redressing humiliation and for gaining respectability. From the very beginning, the emphasis on house is clear as we hear that protagonist Esperanza inform us:

We didn't always live on Mango Street. Before that we lived on Loomis on the third floor and before that we lived on Keeler. Before Keeler it was Paulina, and before that I can't remember. But what I remember most is moving a lot. We had to leave the flat on Loomis quick. The water pipes broke and the landlord wouldn't fix them because the house was too old.... We were using the washroom next door and carrying water over in empty milk gallons. (p. 7)

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Not only is the house important, but the conditions that caused them to move around so often are also worth pondering. It is because the family couldn't afford a house of their own that they had to move in and out of various houses. That intensified the desire of the family to have a house of their house especially Esperanza whose desire is most pronounced. Esperanza, the protagonist of the novel, is a young child whose sense of self-respect is often dented by the humiliating comments made by others. She grows up believing that her sense of self-worth is closely connected with having a house of her own- a white house "with trees around it, a great big yard and grass growing without a fence" (p. 8)

Term Paper on House on Mango Street Significance of a Assignment

This desire is further fuelled by the hurtful comments people made regarding her living conditions and her house. A nun at her school frowned as she pointed to her house, "You live there?" "There. I had to look where she pointed -- the third floor, the paint peeling, wooden bars Papa had nailed on the windows so we wouldn't fall out. You live there? The way she said it made me feel like nothing..." (p. 9). The lines demonstrate the racial and social bias that young Esperanza encountered and it is only natural then to want a more decent dwelling in a respectable neighborhood instead of the one that she lived in. The fact that the num pointed to the house with disgust expresses the humiliation directed at the child.

The Sister Superior at school is also rather insulting in her behavior and her racist comments make Esperanza feel as if people expect all minority members to be living in small cramped houses. This obviously hurts her a lot. Sister Superior once remarks in a very condescending tone: "You don't live far, she says... I bet I can see your house from my window. Which one?... That one? she said pointing to a row of ugly 3-flats, the ones even the raggedy men are ashamed to go into. Yes, I nodded even though I knew that wasn't my house and started to cry..." (p. 43). It seemed that she knew or at least felt she knew that all Mexicans dwelled in such ugly houses.

Thus Esperanza's happiness and her sense of self-worth are closely connected with her house. She wants to have a bigger more respectable house in order to affirm her respectability. As a young child, she is highly sensitive to people's humiliating comments and wants something more decent to call a home: "Only a house quiet as snow, a space for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem" (p. 100). Esperanza is completely consumed by the idea of having a beautiful house of her own. For this reason, the "sad red house"… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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