‘The House on Mango Street’ by Sandra Cisneros is a cross generational, immigrant novel about the life of a young Mexican-American girl, Esperanza Cordero, on the cusp of puberty, growing up in a dilapidated Chicago neighborhood inhabited by members of the impoverished Hispanic minority. The story is told through Esperanza’s point of view. Esperanza tells the story in a loose descriptive style in a series of short, vivid observations, each of these observations forms a chapter.
The book consists of forty-four such short chapters. The chapters are not in continuity with each other but at times a character mentioned in one chapter is mentioned again further on, allowing us to construct some sort of story for that character, The Esperanza depicted in the story is extremely observative (O’Malley), self aware and self conscious but in telling the story she takes the reader into confidence. Esperanza is wise beyond her years but she is not able to understand all that she sees though from her description of the event the reader can figure out what really happened. Esperanza’s language is simple (Cruz), as befitting a little girl, she uses rich and inventive similes in her language, that probably reflect her Hispanic culture and the Spanish language.
Esperanza is very discontented with her lot in life; she sees three great inequalities in her life. The first inequality is the poverty she, her family and the other members of the Mango Street community live in, Esperanza’s parents cannot afford meat for the children’s school lunch, her mother makes for her a ‘rice sandwich’. Esperanza experiences a great shame eating the rice sandwich at lunch. She recalls the days when she lived in a flat in Loomis, before her family moved into Mango Street, a nun from her school went by her house one day, she asked Esperanza where she lived, making her point out her house, the nun got the impression that one of the flats worse than Esperanza’s was her home, even though it wasn’t her home Esperanza did not correct her, she was ashamed of her real home as well and she just wanted the ordeal to be over. Esperanza doesn’t ever visit the houses of the rich people who employ her father, because she is ashamed at her own house.
The second inequality is the racial discrimination her community experiences because of not belonging to the racial majority. There is a great mistrust between people belonging to different races. Members of the other ethnic groups are fearful of the people of the Mango Street Hispanic community, similarly the people of Mango Street are fearful of going into neighborhoods where races other than their own predominate, if they have to go into the territory of another ethnic….
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