The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

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14 Comments on “The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros”

  1. Evan Phail says:

    The House on Mango Street is an interesting read. With each chapter the audience gets a vignette of what Esperanza sees around her neighborhood or the experiences she has. Interestingly enough, there really isn’t a plot, but instead Cisneros continuously gives different scenes of the neighborhood and through that we see what Esperanza sees and learn what she learns. The language is simple yet strong, giving us an inside perspective of Chicago that outsiders normally wouldn’t. It goes directly with the chapter titled “Those Who Don’t” in which Esperanza explains that the ignorant go into their neighborhood and think they’re dangerous. However Esperanza admits that were they to go into another neighborhood, they would feel just as uncomfortable. It teaches the duality of inside vs. outside yet how similar they are.

    There are a lot of adult themes in the book (such as sexuality and rape) however they may be subtle to some readers, especially adolescents. This is probably my third or fourth time reading this book and the one chapter I remember since my first reading was “Red Clowns”. This is an example of an unwanted sexual encounter that Esperanza experiences and although it stuck with me every time I’ve read this book, I’m not sure if other (young) readers would be able to grasp the exact seriousness of the chapter or other more subtle chapters.

    The biggest theme of the book is ‘home’ and being at home. The book may direct its attention to an audience that feels out of place or away from a ‘real home’ and this book explains that every experience helps someone grow. No matter what house, it still has an impact on people’s lives. It also pushes the idea for those who can move on to bigger and better things that they can’t forget who they left behind and who can’t move up and out. The American Dream theme is in many books, but in House on Mango Street, it teaches readers to not abandon their roots and their homes along the way.

  2. Luke Lyons says:

    If there’s one book on our reading list that I wouldn’t mind an adolescent in my family reading, it’s this one. There is no stubborn complexity preventing the reader from enjoying this book. Short and sweet descriptions of Esperanza’s day to day life and her everlasting search for a ‘home’ is something an adolescent should be reading. The parts on abuse and sexuality in this book are mild enough for adolescents to digest easily. There should be no grey area when it comes to whether or not this book is appropriate for a young adult, especially considering the other books we’re read.

    Rhetorically, the only thing that stood out to me were some of the pithy, one paragraph chapters. Besides the introduction, no chapter of this book was more than five pages. And I completely agree with Evan, there was practically no plot in this book, but this works in the books favor. Jumping from short chapter to short chapter kept me interested. I was always excited to read about the next set of observations Esperanza would make, or the next set of circumstances Esperanza would find herself in. I found this to be a ‘cute’ rhetorical device Cisneros exploits.

    That’s all that needs to be said about this book. By comparison, The House on Mango Street was rather tame. I found nothing exceptional about this book or how it was written. It was a nice, little read.

  3. carlagaynor2 says:

    While I did like the format of this book, I found it difficult to really get to know Esperanza as a narrator. True, we do see all of the events in this book through her eyes, but I felt the reader was distanced from her more than they would be in a traditional format. Because of the format this book was written in I had to pay more attention to the text, as some things were quite subtle and easy to pass over.

    There is some adult content in this book, but I felt that it was not too explicit due to the way the book was written. Therefore, a younger reader may not pick up on such detail. This makes the book appropriate to many levels of readers. If the reader is at the age to pick up on such detail, they are mature enough to read it. Yet, it is also appropriate for younger readers since the content it so subtle. I actually skipped over “The Red Balloon” the first time and had to go back and reread it.

    The vignettes seemed to paint a picture of Esperanza’s life, and only zoomed in on specific moments. I liked that extraneous detail was able to be left out of this story, as sometimes it cannot be in traditional texts.

  4. Daphney says:

    Daphney

    I love this book. I have read each vignette a million times. And I have even listened to it in audio a million times.

    What I love about this book is that it talks about the immigrant experiences. As an immigrant I found out that I could relate to that aspect of the vignettes.When you immigrate from a economically poor place to a richer place, you realize the differences. For example, she realizes that she could live in a better place than that house. As a child you don’t realize that it’s poverty exactly, but you know you have the means to do better than your parents.

    In addition to that, I think Cisneros is an
    amazing, gifted writer. There is no way to
    describe her style, but it’s so distinct and so unique and just breath taking.

    The idea of writing this in the form of a vignette is genius. I didn’t think of it the first million times that I read this book, but do you notice that the vignettes are not finished? What a great rethorical move. It really sets up the flow of the story and helps is the timeline of the story.

    Also, I noticed this in a class about rethorics of rape, The red clown vignette is about rape. I can never read it the same way again.

    This brings me to my next point, while this book is written in a style that screams Adol lit, I wonder if that age group would get the deeper meaning of the book. It’s simple but extremely deep at the same time. With that said though, this book is very humorous despite the strong subject matter at times.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Shanita

    The House on Mango Street was written in an interesting format. I have never been so intrigued by a book that is a bunch of short stories combined. Cisneros was very precise in what she put in each story to give us enough information to view who the characters are and what experiences they’ve gotten. Cisneros gives us Esperanza’s view of the neighborhood through others experiences. Cisneros does not always explicitly state the issues in the neighborhood, but she drops hints through her vivid description. The diction she used flowed so well. She used so many metaphors and similes. Themes that reoccur is sexuality, rape, maturity, underserved communities, lack of education and issues that come with poverty. This book is a great adolescent literature book because it keeps readers who may not be able to focus for to long interested.

  6. Stephanie Haddad says:

    I enjoyed this book a lot. I liked the way Cisneros strings the story together through a series of vignettes. I thought this made the story so much more interesting and appealing to the audience because Esperanza gave us insight into the lives of her neighbors. The different titles reflected the story of each chapter, and these various titles made the vignettes so much more exciting to read. This was brilliant on Cisnero’s part—she made them short and sweet since not much really needs to be said in order to understand the meaning. Through these snippets of information, we get an idea of the kind of area Esperanza is living in and why it has such a profound affect on her life. I especially loved the use of poetry and how the words were so simple yet they had such a strong meaning. Her words projected mini images in my mind—I could get a feel of her surroundings and her interpretation of them. I think Cisnero’s incorporation of poetry was an important rhetorical device in connecting the reader to Esperanza—it’s through her use of poetry that I was really able to get a deeper meaning of her life.
    This book is very appropriate for all age groups like everyone else has been mentioning in their posts. The elements of sexuality are so subtle- the most of it that I saw was in the chapter titled “Red Clowns.” Esperanza grew through all of her experiences. Her transition into a more mature character was clear. The House on Mango Street is a wonderful read for adolescents since they can learn about the growth and maturity of adolescent teens.

  7. Hannah Sorgi says:

    I think I now understand this whole relating verse connecting to a text thing. I did not relate nor connect to House on Mango Street. I just enjoyed it. So far it is one of my favorite books we have read. It is my favorite because of the simplicity, and poetic tone to the book. I think that this book is more like a poem than a novel. When picturing the houses and the neighborhood in House on Mango Street, I pictured them like the cover of the book—colorful and painted. The book was written so artistically, yet so simpilified.
    Although I didn’t connect or relate to this book, as a wanna-be-teacher, I think that this book would be a great addition to any curriculum. It teaches about a different culture is a peaceful way. The tone of the book was not scary or aggressive in any way, but calm and pleasant. A teacher could use this book to teach about different cultures and different neighborhoods in America. I think that this was the least teen angsty book, and had the least amount of touchy subjects.
    Now my question is, is this book lacking of touchy subjects because it is meant for a younger audience? I would put this book at the same level as Stargirl which by no means could compare to Monster or Crank or any of the other novels we have read so far.

    I would have to say my favorite part of the book was the beginning and the end with the line: “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” (page3). This phrase is repeated on page 109, but end “but what I remember most is Mango Street, sad red house, the house I belong but do not belong to”(page109). THIS IS GREAT WRITING! The repetition of the phrase completely this book for me, it made this book more like a poem and less like a novel.

  8. Katie McLean says:

    The House of Mango Street read beautifully. The text had long stringy sentences, which can occasionally bother me, but the way it was written was so poetic. I didn’t find it to be the most need-to-read-text so far, but I thought it’s structure was naturally cohesive and well written.

    I love the bluntness of the text– I love chapters like “hairs”. These random thoughts paint us the story of childhood. The text does not shoot from one crazy thing to the next, I reads like a “life” would, which is just what Cisneros was attempting to achieve (which was voiced in the Intro). Not only did I like the content in the chapter, but I love the names. They are titled like “schemas”- the way we organize thoughts and categorize ideas.

    Not to mention– I loved the description in the introduction. It set the pace for the whole story, and hope that it does not get skipped over by other readers. She has such a truth with her words, and that is always something to admire in a book. If I could describe this book with one word, it would be “genuine”.

  9. lmaalexander says:

    There were a few things that I really loved about House on Mango Street. I loved the language that Cisneros uses; it is flowing, poetic and full of imagery. I loved that each chapter in this novella discussed a different person in Esperanza’s neighborhood. I loved the neighborhood itself that Esperanza and her family lived in on Mango Street. I loved that when I finished this book, I was surprised at just how much I loved the whole thing.

    What I found most interesting in this novella was the progression of Esperanza throughout it. As a reader, I could tell she was a child when the family moved into their Mango Street home. The sentence structure and the word choice show Esperanza’s immaturity at the outset of the book. “We didn’t always live on Mango Street. Before that we lived on Loomis and the third floor, and before that we lived on Keeler.” These sentences are simple, direct and lack any adjectives to describe that places the family has previously lived in. As this first chapter goes on, Esperanza talks about the family’s dream for a better home and what it would look like, but the reader still gets the impression that Esperanza herself is still young and naiive.

    As the book goes on, Esperanza gets older which we can tell from the rhetoric and the topics discussed. For example, one chapter is called “Hips” and another is called “The First Job”. In the chapter “Red Clowns”, Esperanza is raped by a man Sally knows. This subject matter is drastically different than what Cisneros was first writing about, and it allows the reader to see the progression and coming-of-age of Esperanza.

    I loved the ending of the book, especially the chapter entitled “A House of My Own”. The language is gorgeous: “Not a flat. Not an apartment in back. Not a man’s house. Not a daddy’s. A house all my own. With my porch and my pillow, my pretty purple petunias. My books and my stories. My two shoes waiting beside the bed. Nobody to shake a stick at. Nobody’s garbage to pick up after.” I think this paragraph, more than anything else in the book, shows Esperanza’s growth into adulthood. She doesn’t want what her parents desire, or what her family thinks is right for her. She has developed her own hopes and dreams, after experiencing everything Cisneros writes about in the novel.

  10. balor321 says:

    House on Mango street reminded me of Monster in that it’s a very visual book. Structured like a journal entry or a series of video diary entries (figuratively speaking) the book introduces us to Esperanza’s thoughts opinions and prejudices directly. In a departure from several of our more recent stories the character is less a victim and more an individual. In contrast to a book like Push Esperanza seems realized not constructed. This character undergoes a “real” process of growing up. I put that in parentheses because even I have to recognize that the extreme unpleasantness of push made me more trigger happy to reject it as “real life” than I probably should be. In addition my own family history of immigrant integration makes me more likely to sympathize and connect with this story. I can believe everything that happens here- unlike push there is no perfect storm of misfortune. Cisneros’s decision to tell the immigrant story in such a believable way adds to the effectiveness of the book. It’s easy to settle down into mango street and read on- were not so horrified initially we want to put the book down.
    The structure of the book adds to its effectiveness- instead of a strictly linear narrative which might drag us behind it we see those moments that make the story noteworthy. The author balances the negative and less so elements of the story as well preventing fatigue. I liked that Cisneros had something to say about the environment she wrote about instead of merely projecting an environment and it’s fallout. This book seems aimed at a younger audience with its message of personal empowerment. It’s focus on inner and not outer empowerment though carries over into adult life particularly so like much of YA lit this book has more to say then merely what its target audience might need to hear.
    I thought the book expressed the effects of environmental despair in a more meaningful way then Precious. Rather than a static backdrop the environment played a central role in the fabric of this story underscoring the role that identity plays in our everyday lives. Esperanza serves not only to instruct young readers that they are more than the sum of their identities- she serves as an underscored figurehead for the unique individual. In this way a book about recent immigrants stuck me as more quintessentially “American” then a book about the “inner city” experience- who’da thunk huh?

  11. kbronner says:

    I have to agree with Luke that I find this book perfectly acceptable for adolescents to read. It isn’t necessarily sugar coated, but the way that heavier issues are discussed comes across as so much tamer than some of the other novels that we’ve read.

    The first time that I remember being exposed to this book was as an America Reads Tutor last year. It was one of the books that we read before starting homework one week. The only thing I remembered about it was that I was never sure where to stop when reading out loud. Normally, we would stop group reading after a chapter or two, but in this book, the chapters can be as short as one page. I wouldn’t even consider them to be actual chapters.

    From my America Reads experience, I didn’t feel that this book was anything special, so I put off reading it. But when I finally did read it, I read it in only one night and actually couldn’t put it down. It wasn’t because it is like Hunger Games with a crazy plot I was dying to find out the end of. For me, it was more the imagery of the book and the way that it was actually written. I have to say that my favorite part of the whole book was the introduction. That’s when I knew that I would love this book. The way that Cisneros described her own apartment, I felt as if I was getting a walking tour. I also loved knowing that she was a reliable author. Knowing that she was writing about what she knew through a character that she created made the whole book so much more enjoyable to me. She lived in Chicago, and achieved her dream of having her own home.

    I think the vignette style writing was much better than having an actual story with a plot line. All together, they make up an image: an image of the neighborhood and of Esperanza’s life–that’s what the reader needs more than a plot. We get little bits and pieces until finally we can see the whole image.

  12. sbuckleit says:

    This novel made me feel like I was seeing the world through Esperanza’s memories–instead of a steady stream of images that create a movie, we learn about the main character’s world through blips, still frames that still send a pretty hefty message.
    I think that this style had its ups and downs for readers (especially when considering the audience). The vignettes are good for younger readers whose attention spans may not be able to keep up with longer texts or more complicated plots. Each chapter is short and sweet, making the novel an easy read even for young teens. As Chris said above, by only showing the important parts of the story there is no excess plot to drag it down. At the same time, its storyline isn’t as gripping as a book like the Hunger Games (I know, I know, I shouldn’t be comparing it to a book we haven’t read yet, but I can’t help it). Because we see Esperanza’s story in fragments, there is no one thread to pull us quickly through the novel, no teeth-clenching finish to which we race.
    Another way that Cisneros paints a picture of Esperanza’s life is to include fragments of writing within the narrative. These snippets of writing add depth to her character’s world, as well as show the reader how important words are in her own life as well as Esperanza’s. I thought this was particularly cool because it was like writing within writing. For example, on page 60, she includes a poem that Esperanza wrote:

    I want to be
    like the waves on the sea
    like the clouds in the wind
    but I’m me.
    One day I’ll jump
    out of my skin.
    I’ll shake the sky
    like a hundred violins.

    The writing is simple, the entire poem consisting of only two sentence and mainly one syllable words, and this form mirrors the simple way in which Esperanza views her world.
    This novel was awesome not because of its gripping storyline, but because of the simple, artistic way in which it was pieced together.

    Sarah Buckleitner
    (Sorry this is late! Life is crazy-busy)

  13. Yuliana Baez says:

    This is my tenth time reading this book. It was very boring for me to read it this time around because I have analyzed it so much. Alone in this school I have read it every school year. Maybe this is why this time around I really am not excited or have too much to say about it. Rhetorically this book was very well written. The book is written in a form vignettes. Never had I realized the way she tells her stories is like a fairytale. The way she personifies actions and objects is appealing to those who read it. Not only does she tells a story through the eyes of a growing child but also shares with us the reality of a community going through different obstacles good and bad in all aspects of life. A theme of growth is seen throughout the entire book as Esperanza, the main character, grows as a writer. The series of vignettes start off with the one called “The House on Mango Street”. We are introduced to Esperanza and her family. She told us the story of how they ended up living on Mango Street. The way Cisneros told us this anecdote makes the reader realize that a young child is speaking. Cisneros uses short noncomplex sentences to describe the different places Esperanza has lived in and through repetition of the structures of the sentences gives us the clue that she is a young child. Esperanza’s coming of age begins to show in the vignette “There Was an Old Women She Had So Many Children She Didn’t Know What to Do”. Through the context of how this vignette is told we are able to come to this conclusion. She refers to the children as “kids” and mentions how they have no respect for any living thing. Her coming of age and into the writer she wanted to be is seen in the last vignette “Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes”. Starting off she repeats all the places that she has lived in like at the beginning of the vignettes. Then mentions how she is too strong for that house that is on Mango Street. At this point we realize that she has grown as a writer and she is ready to be on her own. That is the place where she grew up and gained the strength that she now has. As she moves on in life she will take all that she experienced there by telling the stories she experienced but now she goes on to bigger and better places.

  14. Celeste Smith says:

    I never really got into this book. To me it just didn’t have much substance- Esperanza’s character was never really developed, nor anyone else’s, and there was no real plot line. Although I understand that that interpretation is due to the structure and was perhaps intended, it didn’t work for me as the audience. Although the vignettes were usually cute stories that I enjoyed, I didn’t always understand their purpose. As I was reflecting on the book, I finally figured out that the author was telling the story more of Mango Street rather than an individual character. This realization helped me have more appreciation for the book, but it didn’t make me like the style any more than I had.
    Despite the fact that I didn’t enjoy the style, which in turn prevented me from really connecting or relating to the stories, in part because I was unsure of their meaning and purpose, there was one story that stuck out to me from the rest of the book. On page seventy seven, was a story about how Esperanza’s father ate “eggsandham” for three months because he didn’t know how to say anything else in English. That small statement made me realize just one part of the many hardships and difficulties facing immigrants.
    The other aspect of the book I liked was how the author used “you” as if she was talking to you. For example, “two girls raggedy as rats live across the street. you don’t want to know them”. I remember as a younger reader loving this! Even now, although I’m not quite as excited about it, I like the personal feel that it gives to the book and the way it makes you feel like you’re a part of the story.