The house on Mango Street is a novel created by Sandra Cisneros and it contains vignettes which are narrated by Esperanza. Esperanza has just relocated together with her family to Mango Street but she hates the house that they are currently staying in. She compares the house they are in with all the others that she has seen in the TV. Esperanza meets with Lucy and Rachel and get along together as they are all poor.
Esperanza is the most important character in Sandra Cisneros novel “The House on Mango Street”. Esperanza narrates stories about her family, neighbors and the imaginations she has in secret. The story comes out though Esperanza has the internal drive to fight with poverty, gender biases and racism that is dominant in the society they are living in. The vignettes show various aspects of Esperanza how she discovers various things and the change she underwent throughout her stay in Mango Street.
The story begins with Esperanza’s family relocating to the new house situated in Mango Street which is there own house. She has the hope of living in a better house but on arrival to the Mango Street she is not pleased with the type of house they are ushered into “Everybody has to share a bedroom, I knew I had to have a house; a real house with trees around it”. It does not reflect the kind of house that her parents have always dreamt of or the house that Esperanza herself has been thinking about being built up on top of a hill, their house is located in Chicago the area surrounded by a poor neighborhood ” her house is tiny, crumbling, and without a yard”.
Esperanza is concerned about the nature of her home as she is not only humiliated by the nature of her home but is also not comfortable with her outward appearance. For her the current state that she is in does not show her inner ability. She is concerned about her name which is not mentioned well by her teachers. She thinks that her name carried with it the misfortunes that befell her grandmother with whom she was named after. She is determined to fight a fierce race so that she might not end up like the first Esperanza who was married off and later landed in a life full of sorrows. Her journey towards this end starts from the pronunciation of her name in a different version which reveals her proper self.
While in Mango Street Esperanza sees the kind of lives that people in the surroundings are living. She finds out that people live different types of lifestyles; there are those who experience joy while there are others who live in total hardship. These realities are depicted by the type of houses that people live in. she first met a friend Cathy whose relation does not last because her father moved the family away since the place was being inhabited by more low class people; the likes of Esperanza’s family. The rough conditions in the neighborhoods expose the young children to various problems. All kinds of evils take place in the surrounding since the houses they are living in are insecure. There is car theft, killings and even prostitution with the attempt of making life better “Louie’s cousin’s car-theft, the hit-and-run death of a boy Marin meets at the dance and Marin’s desperate attempts to find a husband”. Esperanza has learnt various lessons from the friends in the neighborhood who fight to make their lives better despite the stereotypes and beliefs that exist in their neighborhood. Alicia goes against the will of her father and attends the University with the main aim of making her life better. When Esperanza attained the adolescent period, she is excited with the members of the opposite sex and wishes to find someone that she can love. The conditions around the neighborhood of sexual assault kill what was to her the show of true love “she witnesses’ two acts of sexual violence”. She decides to be more cautious when dealing with the opposite sex. She decides to put down her principles so as not to see a man as a reason to escape from the situation as all who are married are not happy “Ruthie has run away from her husband and has lost her senses”.
Esperanza talks of the nature of houses in Mango Street since they determined her personality. How she views life, the way she sees herself as well as how poverty affects her whole life ,all have their roots in Mango Street. The opinions that she has on the future and how poverty determines her place in the world all occurs in Mango Street.
Esperanza is sympathizing with the kinds of houses that she is living in at Mango Street. She wants to go from the place but at the end of the novel she expresses her need to go back and help those who were not fortunate just like her. “They will not know I have gone away to come back” She admits that she has learnt a lot from her stay in Mango. Her friends told her everything that is true, which has later had an impact in her thoughts, self and she has learned a lot from the neighborhoods. This to her is the main reason why she writes about Mango Street where she discovered her true self in the mid of the insignificant place.
In conclusion, the house on Mango Street brings out the theme of the fight for self definition. Where the main character fights for her self identity in a society where there is segregation between the poor and the rich. It outlines the problems that poor people face and the struggle they undergo as they try to obtain their self identity.