The key object in The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is the small house of the title, which represents security and prosperity for the characters in the novel. Even though it is not the large house of which Esperanza dreams, like the houses she sees on television, the small house in the barrio still creates a home for the family.
The central idea of the novel is the notion of oppression, in which economic oppression resulting in poverty, and patriarchal oppression, limiting the opportunities of women, and ethnic oppression condemning Esperanza to live in the barrio are part of a coherent set of forces against which the Latina must struggle.
The house, like Woolf's "room of her own", is an ideal, one that Esperanza wishes to own for herself, on her own independently, rather than being indebted to a man for her dwelling place. The idea of owning her own house externalizes her refusal of traditional gender roles and her desire for economic independence. Eventually she comes to realize that it is not so much the external house that is important but it is in the house of her own heart that she can exist free of various oppressive forces.