Sandra Cisneros


Sandra Cisneros Essay, Research Paper

Sandra Cisneros

It was a cold and windy day, a perfect day to uncover secrets and truths about writers I had heard of, but new little about. I entered the library to escape the weather and lose myself in books about Sandra Ciseneros and the characters she creates in her poems and stories. I began my search at a computer resource station, and then absorbed myself in the materials it provided, which were biographies, criticisms, and the works of Cisneros.

Initially, the computer resource station provided me only with Cisnero’s texts or simple the books she had written. They were all listed in the card catalogue, and I was reassured that if the library had her books, than they had to have biographies and criticisms on her as well. I searched through the journal index with Cisneros as the subject, and author, but found nothing. Feeling a little dismayed, I proceeded on to the MLA bibliography and was relieved that there were at least five references to her and her works. I jotted down all of the information I had gathered so far and continued searching through the electronic sources available. These sources included: The academic universe, the academic search, encyclopedias, the Internet, and a database called Melvyl. After exhausting these resources I moved on to searching the library for the books and information I had compiled.

Most of the books I found in this second search were the book’s Cisneros had written: The House on Mango Street, Loose Woman: poems, My Wicked Wicked Ways, and Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. The other books I found were all reference books that came from the reference section in the library and were not to be checked out, so I made photocopies of all the material that pertained to Cisneros, and her work. With my stock pile of information all gathered and before me, it was finally time to unfold the truths and mysteries about this author. I decided I would start with her work and then see what the critics had to say.

Her book’s The House on Mango Street and Loose Woman: Poems enthralled me the most, and gave me a sense of her genre and style. They portrayed her concentration on culture or ethninticity and gender issues. A Stanza from her poem “Loose Woman” really tickled my fancy and is an excellent representation of these two themes:

“They say I’m macha, hell on wheels,

viva-la-vulva, fire and brimstone,

man-hating, devastating,

boogey-woman lesbian.

Not necessarily,

but I like the compliment.” ( 112)

In this poem Cisneros displays a common stereotype of women in a satirical way that is easy to identify with, and in a sense empowers women rather than degrading them. In doing this, she keeps her cultural heritage by using both English, and her own native language, Spanish to define her views. She maintains this sort of style throughout her poems and pursues gender issues and cultural identity with ferocious vitality and purpose.

Although she does not use written Spanish in The house on Mango Street, her characters are Mexican and represent the culture in their lifestyles, views, and upbringing. The story depicts the coming of age of a girl named Esperanza, who is searching for stability and a place for herself in the world. Cisneros explores the life of a Mexican girl and the things that shaped her morality and sense of who she was and what she does or does not want out of life. She portrays the constraints of female Mexican children and their rites of passage into adult hood masterfully in this book. The story is filled with emotions of laughter, outrage, loneliness, sadness and true pure reality. It not only portrays the life of a child growing up in a culture different from her own, but also portrays the general life of all children.

This defining of specific conditions that are both precisely Latina and general to women everywhere is what makes Cisneros original and highly praised by the critics. They say that, “her feminist, Mexican American voice is not only playful and vigorous, it’s original-we haven’t heard anything like it before?she is a writer of power and eloquence and great lyrical beauty” (Kamp, & Telgen 99). This view is the common appraisal given by the criticisms I have read. They go into lengthy detail describing, and dissecting the meanings of her work, in comparison with her life and discuss the cultural and feministic issues she is portraying. She is well liked and her achievements are becoming more and more innumerable. She is an asset to the writing community and is praised and thanked for her refreshingly original works.

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