Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Although Cisneros’s style is direct, using sparse prose and often withholding as much information as she supplies, her writing is richly textured. Irony plays an important role in this story, for the truth lies in the contrast between what the reader knows to be true about this seduction and what the narrator feels about her sexual awakening. There are other ironies: The mother had a similar initiation and was sent from Mexico to the United States; Chaq, who was to bring change, brought only more of the same, as the entire story confirms traditional human behavior.

Cisneros also uses an ironic blending of Christian and pagan imagery and allusion to provide depth and to demonstrate the sense of continuity felt by the narrator. On the “holy night” of her initiation, the little Catholic girl becomes Ixchel, the moon goddess, to Chaq, the rain god.

Finally, Cisneros uses extended metaphors to reveal the attitude of the narrator, who has no sense of exploitation or shame. In the narrator’s comparison of love to a crazy man with a harmonica wheezing in and out, she demonstrates an innocence, as well as a wisdom beyond her years. She knows that life will be hard.

One Holy Night Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Brackett, Virginia. A Home in the Heart: The Story of Sandra Cisneros. Greensboro, N.C.: Morgan Reynolds, 2005.

Cisneros, Sandra. “The Authorized Sandra Cisneros Web Site.” .html.

Cisneros, Sandra. “From a Writer’s Notebook: Ghosts and Voices—Writing from Obsessions, Do You Know Me? I Wrote The House on Mango Street.” The Americas Review 15 (Fall/Winter, 1987): 69-73, 77-79.

Jussawalla, Ferosz, and Reed W. Dasenbrock, eds. Interviews with Writers of the Post-Colonial World. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1992.

Kevane, Bridget A., and Juanita Heredia. “A Home in the Heart—An Interview with Sandra Cisneros.” In Latina Self-Portraits: Interviews with Contemporary Women. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000.

Olivares, Julián. “Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street and the Poetics of Space.” In Chicana Creativity and Criticism: Charting New Frontiers in American Literature, edited by Maria Herrera-Sobek and Helena María Viramontes. Houston: Arte Publico Press, 1988.

Petty, Leslie. “The ’Dual’-ling Images of la Malinche and la Virgen de Guadelupe in Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street.” Melus 25 (Summer, 2000): 119-132.

Rodriguez-Aranda, Pilar E. “On the Solitary Fate of Being Mexican, Female, Wicked, and Thirty-Three: An Interview with Writer Sandra Cisneros.” The Americas Review 18 (Spring, 1990): 64-80.

Tompkins, Cynthia. “Sandra Cisneros.” In American Novelists Since World War II, 4th Series, edited by James and Wanda Giles. Vol. 152 in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1995.

Valdéz, Maria Elena de. “The Critical Reception of Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street.” In Gender, Self, and Society, edited by Renate von Bartelben. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1993.