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The House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros

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Why does the family have to tell everyone when they take a bath in "The House on Mango Street?"

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In Chapter One of Sandra Cisneros's House on Mango Street, the narrator, Esperanza, says that the family has moved into their own house but that the house is not the house of their dreams. There are many limitations to their house that symbolize the limitations on their lives. 

The narrator, Esperanza, says in this chapter:

"They always told us that one day we would move into a house, a real house that would be ours for always so we wouldn’t have to move each year. And our house would have running water and pipes that worked. And inside it would have real stairs, not hallway stairs, but stairs inside like the houses on T.V. And we’d have a basement and at least three washrooms so when we took a bath we wouldn’t have to tell everybody" (Chapter One).

Esperanza's parents have dreamed of a house that resembles what they have seen on television and that represents the fulfillment of the American Dream. In this dream, the family's needs will be completely met, and the family will have stairs, a basement, and several bathrooms.

However, the reality, as the narrator says later in Chapter One, is that "the house has only one washroom." That is why the family has to tell each other when they are taking a bath. Their dreams are not fully realized in their house because of its size and other limitations, and therefore their dreams have not yet been fully realized in the United States. Esperanza still hopes to have a real house, not just a house that falls far short of her dreams.

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