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Sandra Cisneros. A House as Quiet as Snow. Growing Up in Chicago. Born in the Hispanic Quarter of Chicago in 1954 Mexican-American (Chicana) She was the only girl in a family of seven, and grew up in poverty Her parents emphasized education

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sandra cisneros

Sandra Cisneros

A House as Quiet as Snow

growing up in chicago
Growing Up in Chicago
  • Born in the Hispanic Quarter of Chicago in 1954
  • Mexican-American (Chicana)
  • She was the only girl in a family of seven, and grew up in poverty
  • Her parents emphasized education
  • Her family moved often; she was shy and introverted, but connected with her community privately through writing
becoming a writer
Becoming a Writer
  • Attended Loyola University in Chicago as an English major
  • Decided to become a writer
  • Attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, a graduate school for young writers
  • Was afraid her unprivileged background would put her at a disadvantage in the literary world
  • However, her heritage gave her the unique voice that shaped her career
books by sandra cisneros
Books by Sandra Cisneros
  • Bad Boys, Mango Press: San Jose, California, 1980
  • The House on Mango Street , (Arte Publico Press: Houston, Texas, l984), Vintage: New York, 1991.
  • Woman Hollering Creek, Random House: New York, 1991
  • My Wicked Wicked Ways, (Third Woman Press: Berkeley, California, l987), Random House: New York, 1992
  • La Casa En Mango Street, translated by Elena Poniatowska, Vintage Español, New York, 1994.
  • Loose Woman, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1994.
  • Hairs/Pelitos, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1994. Spanish translation by Liliana Valenzuela.
  • Caramelo, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2002. Spanish edition translated by Liliana Valenzuela.
  • Vintage Cisneros, Vintage, New York, 2004.
the house on mango street narrator
The House on Mango Street: Narrator
  • The work is narrated by Esperanza Cordero, thirteen, a Chicana girl in Chicago.
  • Although told in the voice of a young girl, it addresses mature subject matter.
  • In English, Esperanza means hope, and also, waiting.
  • This choice of name is significant in the novel: the character and her independence represent a way out of the slums.
  • As she watches her neighborhood, she decides that she will not become like the women she knows, trapped and powerless in a man’s world.
the house on mango street setting
The House on Mango Street: Setting
  • Mango Street symbolizes both Esperanza’s ball and chain and her inspiration.
  • In the beginning of the novel, she is disappointed with the house on Mango Street.
  • She finds that she is not like the other residents of Mango, that she can and will find the strength to leave her life there.
  • She realizes that Mango is a part of her, and where she comes from is as important as where she’s going.
  • She knows she must come back, to help the others who are trapped there.
  • Cisneros’s writing is very imagistic. She makes unexpected comparisons between things to give connotations to what she describes.
the house on mango street structure
The House on Mango Street: Structure
  • The novel is told as a series of vignettes, 1-4 pages each
  • There is no real chronological plot, but a series of insights into Esperanza’s thoughts and feelings.
  • The vignettes show the trends in behavior in the community and provide a contrast between strength and weakness, between freedom and bondage.
  • The novel is dedicated A Las Mujeres, To the Women.
the house on mango street characters
The House on Mango Street: Characters
  • Alicia, the medical student who is still bound to her old fears.
  • Marin, who waits.
  • Beautiful Rafaela, the modern-day Rapunzel.
  • Rosa Vargas, with too many children, crying for the husband who left.
  • Mamacita, who dreams of the pink house she left behind and refuses to speak English.
  • Sally, the subject of abuse until she marries, to escape, before eighth grade, and moves from Mango Street into into another sort of trap.
  • And then there is Esperanza, who is like the skinny trees outside her tiny window, who longs for a house all her own, who starts her own quiet war.
the house on mango street significance
The House on Mango Street: Significance
  • This is Cisneros’s first novel.
  • It is a way to relate her cultural identity to her life and the lives of others.
  • Cisneros seeks to break the cycle of defeats that women suffered due to social and religious stereotypes.
  • Esperanza is an outlet for the author’s views on the perceptions of women in her milieu.
further research
Further Research
  • For more biographical information:
  • For more analysis of The House on Mango Street:
  • To buy books by Sandra Cisneros:
  • Teaching resources for Cisneros’s works: