Sandra Cisneros • Born 1954 in Chicago, Illinois • Mexican-American • One of 7 children and the only girl • Father often spoke highly of his boys, but not of his only daughter • Family migrated to and from Mexico and Chicago • Moved from apartment to apartment before finally settling in a house before Sandra began high school.
The House on Mango Street: Focus of Works Works looked closely at the lives of Mexican-Americans living in America Specifically her works look at the roles of Mexican-American women looking for a more independent role in the workplace and family
The House on Mango Street:Background Book was received with critical fanfare Perhaps more notably it was a commercial success, a rare accomplishment for a Hispanic writer at the time of its release Winner of Before Columbus American Book Award
Historical Context • Illinois is the fourth most populous state for Latinos, especially of Mexican descent. • New immigrants in the 1920’s were recruited by business leaders and shipped to the Midwest to populate factories. • Neighborhoods of Mexican-Americans were informally established in the 1920’s. • Met with resistance and discrimination by natives of European descent.
Immigration • Becoming a legal US citizen is difficult and time consuming requiring that you meet certain criteria. • Many Mexicans came to the country illegally and feared deportation. • Some fought in WWII in exchange for citizenship (Cisneros’ father). • Others were able to marry or give birth to US citizens to obtain citizenship.
Historical Context • Racial tension and discrimination against Mexican-Americans was common • Cisneros wanted to inspire Latino youth because she noticed a lack of positive Latino role models. • Her novella provides a snapshot of life in a Mexican American neighborhood in the 1960’s.
The House on Mango Street Overview The story follows a year in the life of a young Mexican-American girl named Esperanza Esperanza’s family has moved into a new house on Mango Street Mango Street is populated by people with many different life stories, that both stories of hope and despair. The story focuses on the tiny, often overlooked details of a community A kid’s first bicycle A girl struggling to attend college and care for a family at the same time The mysteries of hips and womanhood Having a boyfriend or becoming interested in boys for the first time
The House on Mango Street Overview Chicano literature relates the values and traditions of Mexican-American values The House on Mango Street is a collection of over 40 vignettes (a short scene or snapshot) These short stories give readers a true sense of what it is like to live in a Mexican-American neighborhood
Overview Publication:1984 Type: Novella Setting: 1960s Chicago (Mango Street) A poor Hispanic neighborhood that would be a close reflection of the same types of place Cisneros would have lived in growing up
Literary Focus Point of View 1st Person Allows the read an intimate look at the thoughts and feelings of a girl that is seeing both her physical feelings about the world and her mental feelings changing Conflict Varied-ranging from poverty, to sexual anxiety, to just general anxiety about growing up and maturing
Literary Focus Symbols: Shoes Are representative of both Esperanza’s financial position in society and her sexual place in society When she is wearing her “poor” shoes she feels ugly and self-aware When she wears her mother’s high heels she feels glamorous and sexual
Literary Focus Symbols: Trees Esperanza looks at the impossibility of trees: how they grow so tall, how their branches reach to the sky, how they grow despite concrete The trees are representative of Esperanza’s own dreams Despite the difficulties that surround her she can look to the trees for inspiration that the impossible can happen
Literary Focus Themes and Conflicts Maturity Womanhood Roles of Women Sexuality Gender Roles in Society The American Dream Personal Identity Romance versus Humiliation Beauty versus Integrity Women and Power
Characters Esperanza Insightful and thoughtful Narrator who uses poetic descriptions Feels shame over her family’s lack of wealth, especially the new neighborhood and house her family has moved into
Characters Nenny Esperanza’s younger sister and closet companion Some division with her sister because their separation in age prevents Nenny from knowing the physical and emotional changes her older sister is having to cope with in her life
Supporting Characters Marin: Flirtatious and boy crazy; shares her knowledge about womanly things Rachel and Lucy: Esperanza’s best friends who love words and as much as she does Sally: Sexually confident and someone that Esperanza admires