The House On Mango Street


The House On Mango Street Essay, Research Paper

In The House On Mango Street Esperanza reveals personal

experiences through which the reader is able to determine what kind of

person she is; her views on life, how she views herself, as well as

how her poverty affects her view of life, her view of her future, and

how her poverty currently affects her place in the world. The

vignettes show different aspects of Esperanza?s identity as it evolves

and changes progressively throughout The House On Mango Street. Esperanza?s identity, as divulged in the vignettes, is

multifaceted. Her shyness is evident when she is around people who are

unfamiliar to her. This is most likely due to the intimidation these

people pose. For example, in the vignettes ?The First Job? and ?A Rice

Sandwich? Esperanza is too shy to eat with her other co-workers and

peers, as shown in the following quotation from ?The First Job?: ?When

lunch time came I was scared to eat alone in the company lunchroom?.

Another dominant feature in Esperanza?s personality is the trust she

has in others. This is one of Esperanza?s weaknesses as an individual

because it allows her to be gullible and vulnerable. In ?Cathy Queen

of Cats? Esperanza?s gullibility is obvious when Cathy tells Esperanza

that ?…[her] father will have to fly to France one day and find

her…cousin…and inherit the family house. How do I know this is so?

She told me so.?. Another error in trusting others is that Esperanza

is susceptible to betrayal. In ?Red Clowns? Esperanza is betrayed by

Sally because Sally told Esperanza that the circus would be a fun

experience, but instead she was raped. Esperanza blames Sally, the

magazines, and the movies for lying to her about the circus. Esperanza

is a very idealistic person. She assumes everything is pretty and fun,

but when she finds out the acrimonious reality of life she becomes

disappointed and deems herself stupid for not knowing better.

Unbeknownst to Esperanza, her naivet? and inexperience is normal. For

example, in ?Gil?s Furniture Bought & Sold? Esperanza assumes that a

music box is ?…a pretty box with flowers painted on it, with a

ballerina inside…? but when it?s revealed to her that a music box is

just ?…a wood box that?s old and got a big brass record in it with

holes? she feels ashamed she did not know better. Despite her low

self-esteem she still keeps hold of her dream of acquiring ?A house

all my own.?. Esperanza?s perception of herself does not mirror who she really

is. She views herself as unattractive, unintelligent, insignificant

and out of place. Such statements as, ?…skinny necks and pointed

elbows like mine….do not belong here but are here…? provide

evidence. In ?Four Skinny Trees? Esperanza describes the four trees

outside her house as how she sees herself; how she has not found her

place in the world. Esperanza, like the trees, is trapped. While

Esperanza is trapped on Mango Street, the trees are trapped in

concrete. The quotation from ?Four Skinny Trees? illustrates an

optimism despite the limitations. ?Four who grew despite concrete.

Four who reach and do not forget to reach.? The desire to leave Mango

Street is the desire to lay new roots. There is an optimism which is

inconsistent with Esperanza?s negative self image. Esperanza?s poverty acts as a physical obstacle from leaving Mango

Street, but it does not prevent her from creating dreams and desires.

On Mango Street Esperanza lives in a dilapidated, tiny house; a house

with ?bricks …crumbling in places…? ?Everybody has to share a

bedroom…? From this poverty was born Esperanza?s dream. ?I knew

then I had to have a house. A real house.? Although her dream is to

live in a house ?with trees around it, a great big yard, and grass

growing without a fence,? Esperanza does not plan to abandon those

who cannot leave Mango Street. ?They will not know I have gone away to

come back. For the ones I left behind.? Esperanza maintains a

commitment to her roots on Mango Street. At the outset of The House on Mango Street, Esperanza is presented

as a shy girl with low self esteem. As the book progresses she

appears to become increasingly strong, and clear about her destiny.

Her optimism prevails.


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