A Major Symbol In The House On Mango Street
A major symbol present throughout the book, The House on Mango Street, are the houses that female characters and Esperanza lives in. Houses are symbolized as places of confinement for many female characters such as Refaela. For example, Rafaela’s husband locks her in their own apartment on Tuesdays as he is scared that she will run away. She is confined in her own house on Tuesdays as her husband leaves to gamble and keeps her in their own house, and everyday Rafaela wishes to escape and be free from her house. For Esperanza though, to her a house can be a symbol of freedom for her. Throughout the book,Esperanza wishes for a home away from Mango Street, and she sees that if she has a house on her own she can leave mango street and be independent, and own a house based on her own decision, not someone else’s. When Esperanza found out that Sally got married and had her own house, she thought of it as freedom from Mango Street and that Sally is free from the horrid Mango street,but when she finds out that Sally’s husband keeps her trapped in the house, she gets encouraged to be independent and to own a house on her own and not have to listen to someone controlling her. Houses can also be symbols expressing fantasy and reality in The House on Mango Street.Throughout the whole book, Esperanza wishes for a new house, and feels as though the one on Mango Street is not meant for her. In the beginning she is hopeful that her house will not have broken pipes, have real stairs not hallway stairs,a basement, three washrooms, and whenever they take a bath they do not have to tell anyone, but this is her fantasy of a house. In reality her house is small and red, with tight stairs in the front and small windows with a door you have to push hard to get in.This demonstrates how houses can express the fantasy and reality of owning a house, and the confinement or freedom a house can give you.
The main character, Esperanza, does many things that convey to the reader her habits, how she acts, and how she handles situations. In the beginning of the book, the reader can conclude that Esperanza is ashamed of who she is and where she comes from, because when she is told by the nuns to point at her house, she starts to break down and cry because that is where she lives, and even though she finally has a house, the house on Mango Street did not meet her expectations, and she hopes for a better house. Her family has been moving due to many problems with their previous homes, and Esperanza has always wished that her family owned their own house and not an apartment. We can also tell that Esperanza is grateful for the things she has, later in the book, when Esperanza’s grandfather dies and her dad is mournful over the death of his father, Esperanza is grateful that she still has her dad and appreciates him and her family more. Later in the book, Esperanza states, “One day I’ll own my own house, but I won’t forget who I am or where I came from. Passing bums will ask, Can I come in? I’ll offer them the attic, ask them to stay, because I know how it is to be without a house.” This implies that Esperanza will not forget who she is and where she came from, and she would let bums stay in her attic whenever she owns her own house. This shows that Esperanza is empathetic towards others, because she understands what it feels like to be without a house of her own, and would let other people to stay in her own house, because she understands their situation living without a house. Towards the ending of the book, Esperanza’s moral sense starts to develop from intense individualism to a sense of responsibility towards the people in her community.
When she first moved into the new house on Mango Street, Esperanza only had one wish, which was to leave Mango Street. Her dreams of self-definition does not include the fact she has any responsibility to her family or the people around her, and wishes to leave everything behind. Once Esperanza starts to connect with certain members of her community, she starts to feel as though it’s her responsibility to help out the community of women on Mango Street. She no longer sees herself as a person striving for self-determination, but as a member of a social network who must give back to the members of Mango Street in order to break the cycle of poverty and sexually assault that is present on Mango Street.Esperanza also develops feelings of moral responsibility toward her community of women. Her negative experiences as Sally’s friend shows that she has the courage to try to help her friends, even if they do not always understand that they need to help her as well. Such as the time with Sally, Tito and his friends, and Esperanza in the garden. Esperanza realizes that Sally is going to get sexually assaulted by Tito and his friends and gains the courage to try and help Sally even though she did not want her help. It is not until she talks with the three sisters and Alicia, that she cannot change where she is from and who she was, and that she should never forget the past and path she took to get to her future, and that she will soon come back to Mango Street to try and help out the oppressed women in Mango Street. However, we can hope that Esperanza understands that helping the neighborhood women will be a lifelong effort to end the suffering and torment the women of Mango Street experience on a daily basis.
The author, Sandra Cisneros, repeats many phrases in the book throughout major events that happen in the book. The author, Cisneros, likes to repeat sentences used by the characters in order to convey to the reader the type of emotion the character is feeling. For example, in the vignette “what Sally said,” Sally’s controlling father sees her talking to a boy, and when she gets home, her father starts beating her with a belt. The phrase ‘You’re not my daughter, you’re not my daughter,” is said to let the reader know that Sallys father does not consider her his daughter because she does not obey him. He feels as though that he has lost control of her because she talked to a boy and changes clothes during and after school, and even though it pains him Sally’s father is a religious dad, and was disappointed when he realized that he was going to have a daughter. He believes that she will make the family ashamed of her, just like how his sisters ran away, all because she is a girl.
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