Esperanza is torn between deciding whether she wants to escape Mango
Street. She is embarrassed by the superficial appearance of her identity,
but appreciates her roots. Her house is a wreck and the neighborhood,
probably not much better off. However, she has loving family and friends.
Although marriage has caused the suffering of many of the women in her
neighborhood, she realizes that she needs men to fulfill the new desires
she attains as she hits adolescence.
Through the novel, Esperanza matures both physically and mentally. The
first thing that struck me about this novel was that the chapters were
very short. I realized that the narrator is young and has a short
attention span, judging from her fragmented observations. However,
Esperanza begins to mature and to develop a desire for men. While she
senses that many women are caged by men, they cannot be truly free
Most of the women Esperanza knows on Mango Street are either trapped in
their marriages or tied down by their children. For example,
Esperanza’s grandmother. Esperanza does not want to “inherit her place
by the window.” She neither likes what she has already inherited from
her grandmother – her name. Esperanza plays with words when she first
expresses her dissatisfaction with her name. She says that in Spanish,
her name means “too many letters. It means sadness [from the opposite
of esperar, which is desesperarse], it means waiting [from the verb
esperar].” She settles on changing her name to “Zeze the X”. As
Esperanza observes, the Mexicans and the Chinese do not want their
women to be strong like horses. Esperanza hopes for a different future.
Although she likes to sleep near her mother’s hair, the novel
eventually reveals that she wants to escape Mango Street. Clearly,
Esperanza’s name suits her; she has hope.
In House on Mango Street, Cisneros constantly reminds the reader not to
judge a book by its cover. The idea of a dirty outside but appealing
inside is prevalent at many levels – the neighborhood, the household
and the individual. Cathy, Esperanza’s first friend in the
neighborhood, tells Esperanza that her family is moving because “the
neighborhood is getting bad”, because of the many immigrants like
Esperanza’s family beginning to move in. Cathy says that Lucy and
Rachel, who Esperanza eventually befriends, “smell like a broom.” Her
mentioning her distant relation to the queen of France makes her seem
very pretentious. In...