In The House on Mango Street, what is a physical element that Esperanza reacts to?  

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the most oppressive physical elements about Esperanza's situation that she reacts to is actually the poverty that she and her family faces, and the way that this traps them in their house which Esperanza feels so ashamed of and also gives Esperanza such an intense desire to improve herself and study so that she can escape and buy her own house. You might want to study the vignette entitled "The First Job" for an example of this, as this details the way that Esperanza looks for a job to help pay for her school fees, and is even willing to lie to achieve her aim. Consider the opening paragraph and what it tells us about the realities of poverty that Esperanza faced:

It wasn't as if I didn't want to work. I did. I had even gone to teh social security office the month before to get my social security number. I needed money. The Catholic high school cost a lot, and Papa said nobody went to public school unless you wanted to turn out bad.

Note the way in which Esperanza confesses her need for money and the way that poverty is recognised as being such a physical, concrete reality for her, which has profound implications on the kind of future somebody could expect, as her father's comment about schooling makes clear.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Esperanza reacts to the small size and the decrepit state of her house. She says, using an example of personification, that the windows are so small "you'd think they were holding their breath." The brick on the outside of the house is falling apart, and the door is so swollen that it is hard to open. Instead of a grand front yard, there are four small elms that were planted by the city, and the back yard contains only a garage (without a car). There is only one bathroom and one bedroom for the entire family of two parents and four children. In addition, there are only hallway stairs, not a real staircase. Esperanza wants the kind of grand house she sees on television and the kinds of houses that her parents have dreamed about when they buy lottery tickets. She finds the house on Mango Street falls far short of her dreams.

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The House on Mango Street

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