The Imagery In The House On Mango Street
In this small, poetic book Sanda Ciseros captures the trapped feelings and despair Esperanza sees among all of her neighbors, particularly the women. It is an ongoing theme for Esperanza to tell about different girls and women in her community, abusive husbands or fathers consistently being apart of their lives. This causes the reader to perceive that men, specifically in the culture where Esperanza lives create a sense of confinement to the women and their actions. However, this is not where the overall feeling of isolation comes from. Men themselves cannot contain women without an outside force aiding them. This is why in The House on Mango Street, the force that causes the feelings of confinement in the people, or specifically the women around Esperanza, is marriage. Esperanza explains that men and women live in different worlds, this observation being proved true throughout the novel. The men in The House on Mango Street are constantly violent, abusive, or simply not in the woman’s life at all.
However, their world is so distant from what the women know that none of them go against the men or demand change. This causes many women to become tied down and trapped to Mango Street because of abusive husbands, or having to take care of children born from these toxic marriages. In the culture of this time, the women had little say in what went on around them. Divorce is frowned upon, and children born had to be taken care of by the mothers. The men called all of the shots. This environment almost seems designed to keep the women tied down and confined to a humble life. Esperanza introduces her namesake at the beginning of the novel-her great-grandmother.
Right in the beginning, Esperanza tells of how her great-grandmother was kidnapped by Esperanza’s great-grandfather. She explains how he threw a sack over her grandmother’s head and carried her off. After Esperanza’s explanation of her great-grandmother, it is seen how all over Mango Street there seems to be a repeated imagery of women trapped in their own houses. They are all stuck there, eyes trained on the world going on around them. Looking out from their windows, however never actually leaving. Rafaela, the woman who leaned out the window dreaming her hair was rapunzel’s, had a husband who locked her indoors because he was too afraid she would run away since she was so beautiful. Mamacita, the woman who lives across the street with her son, is not only physically trapped in her house but also linguistically trapped since she cannot communicate with those around her.
Sally, the beautiful girl Esperanza befriends when she was young, eventually ends up completely isolated and trapped in a marriage with a man who does not allow her to meet with friends, talk on the phone, or in any way leave the house. All 4 of these incidents of women feeling trapped are directly related to some marriage or obligation coming from marriage. After analyzing the overall effect marriage has on the women of Mango Street, it can be taken that it is the main factor in why the feelings of confinement are so prevalent in this novel. The culture Esperanza lives in makes living as a woman difficult and painful. When marriage is expected in them, it is hard to stay away from the isolation that is destined to come with it. It is a sad story to read, knowing that these women presumably never escape from the shackles that leave them tied down to Mango Street forever. Whatever the case, it is evident that the force that causes so many characters to feel trapped and lost in confinement is marriage.
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