In The House on Mango Street, what chapters showcase determination in this novel?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Four Skinny Trees," "Bums in the Attic," "Beautiful and Cruel," "A House of My Own," and "Mango says Goodbye Sometimes" are the main vignettes that focus on Esperanza's determination to be a strong woman, leave Mango Street one day, and to own her own house. She becomes progressively more determined with each vignette, too. As she analyzes the different types of people who live on Mango Street, Esperanza's resolve to leave and maker herself better than where she comes from builds and strengthens.

First, in "Four Skinny Trees," Esperanza finds strength within herself as she appreciates how these four trees remain strong and living against the odds of growing through the concrete of the inner-city. Esperanza explains as follows:

"When I am too sad and too skinny to keep keeping, when I am a tiny thing against so many bricks, then it is I look at trees. When there is nothing left to look at on this street. Four who grew despite concrete. Four who reach and do not forget to reach. Four whose only reason is to be and be" (75).

The trees give Esperanza hope, strength and determination to keep focusing on her goals.

Next, "Bums in the Attic" shows that Esperanza's determination is growing because she declares that she will not only own her own house one day, but she will allow bums to live in the attic "because I know how it is to be without a house" (87). She also says in this vignette that people who live in big houses on hills either don't know about people who live on streets like Mango, or they have forgotten them. She vows never to forget where she came from.

Then, in "Beautiful and Cruel," Esperanza thinks that she is the ugly daughter, so she better work harder for what she wants in life. The common belief for girls on Mango Street is that they can't escape it unless they get married and the husband takes them away. To Esperanza, that's like chaining oneself to a life in prison.

"I have decided not to grow up tame like the others who lay their necks on the threshold waiting for the ball and chain" (88).

Esperanza is determined not to get out of poverty and off of Mango Street by way of marriage. She will do it her way, not like every other young girl she knows.

By the time we read "A House of My Own," Esperanza is even more determined to obtain her own house because she's seen too many women and young girls beaten and taken advantage of by boyfriends, husbands and fathers to want to live that life in any way.

"Not a flat. Not an apartment in back. Not a man's house. Not a daddy's. A house all my own. . . Nobody to shake a stick at. Nobody's garbage to pick up after. Only a house quiet as snow, a space for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem" (108).

Finally, "Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes," Esperanza declares that she will pack everything up one day to leave and make her life better, but she will come back for those who cannot escape it. Whether that means that she will use her own money to clean up Mango Street, or if she will buy a house there, or if she will just visit, she maintains that she will never forget where she came from. As determined as Esperanza is to leave Mango Street, she is also determined to remember it.


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The House on Mango Street

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