The House on Mango Street Written by Sandra Cisneros
Author • Sandra Cisneros • Bad Boys • My Wicked Wicked Ways • Loose Woman • , Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories • Hairs/Pelitos • The House on Mango Street • Caramelo • Vintage Cisneros, published in 2003, is a compilation of selections from my works.
Setting • The setting of the story is a poor Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago in the1960’s. The neighborhood is very close-knit, full of immigrants who do not speak English well and rarely leave the neighborhood.
Themes • Social and Cultural Awareness • The power of language • The Struggle for Self-Definition • Women’s Unfulfilled Responsibilities to Each Other • Women by Windows • Names
Vocabulary • abuelito:(n.) Spanish term of endearment meaning grandfather. • anemic:(adj.) listless and weak; lacking in vitality. • Babusnka:(n.) a Russian word for grandmother; usually a triangularly folded kerchief for the head. • brazer:(n.) a Spanish derivative of the word bracero which means a hired hand or temporary worker. • canteen:(n.) a place where refreshments are sold; sometimes a cafeteria. • chanclas:(n.) Spanish word for old shoes or old sandals. • comadres:(n.) Spanish word for close friend or companion (females). • cumbia:(n.) a Colombian folk dance and type of dance music; the typical instrument mix includes guitars, accordions, brass, and deep-toned drums and other percussion.
Vocabulary • cumulus:(adj.) a dense, white, fluffy, flat-based cloud with a multiple rounded top and a well-defined outline, usually formed by the ascent of thermally unstable air masses. • mamasota:(n.) a Spanish word for a large, voluptuous women • merengue:(n.) a ballroom dance of Dominican and Haitian folk origin, characterized by a sliding step. • ranchera:(n.) a genre of the traditional music of Mexico, traditionally written about love, patriotism, or man's enjoyment of/connection with nature. • spartan:(adj.) very simple; austere; lacking comfort (refers to the way the Ancient Spartans lived). • sphinx:(n.) a figure from both Greek and Egyptian mythology - a winged creature having the head of a woman and the body of a lion, noted for killing those who couldn't answer its riddle; a puzzling or mysterious person. • trudge:(v.) to walk in a laborious heavy-footed way; to plod
Major Characters • Esperanza Cordero : Esperanza Cordero is a young Hispanic girl living on Mango Street with her large family. She is embarrassed by her family's current home and constantly wishes to have a new house of her own, far away from the slums of Mango Street. • Nenny: Nenny is Esperanza's little sister and constant companion. • Rachel: Rachel is Lucy's little sister, and has difficulty pronouncing English phrases. • Lucy: Lucy is Rachel's older sister and friend of Esperanza. They meet when trying to buy an old bicycle. • Mama: Mama is Esperanza's mother and a woman of many dreams and wishes for her children. She speaks two languages, can sing opera, and once had greater dreams for herself than simply cooking for other people. • Papa: Papa is Esperanza's father and the head of the Cordero household. He awakens Esperanza one night in tears over the death of his own father, and constantly wonders why Esperanza wants to escape so much. • Sally: Sally is a beautiful girl in Esperanza's class who comes from a strict religious family. In rebellion, Sally dresses provocatively and paints her eyes like Egypt, earning a foul and risqué reputation.
Minor Characters • Kiki: Kiki is one of Esperanza's little brothers. He has hair like fur and plays pretty much only with his brother Carlos. • Carlos: Carlos is another of Esperanza's little brothers. His hair is thick and straight and is the best friend of his brother, Kiki. • Great-grandmother Esperanza: Esperanza is named after her wild great-grandmother, who was tamed after marriage. • Meme Ortiz: Meme Ortiz moves into Cathy's house after her family leaves. His given name is Juan, but everyone calls him Meme (except his mother). • Marin: Marin in one of Esperanza's early friends and the female cousin of neighbor Louie. She is one of Esperanza's early mentors who is sent away because of her bad and risqué behavior with men and cigarettes. • Alicia: Alicia is a friend of Esperanza's who is constantly afraid of the mice in her kitchen. She is from Guadalajara and tells Esperanza that she must always remember that her home is Mango Street. • Rafaela: Rafaela is a beautiful woman entrapped in a bad marriage. She waits alone all day, looking outside the window. • Minerva: Minerva is a neighbor of Esperanza and only a few years older. She has suffered a difficult life, marrying a man who left her beaten and with two children.