The House on Mango Street Questions and Answers
by Sandra Cisneros

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  In The House on Mango Street, how does Sandra Cisneros use language, (personification, simile, imagery) to create the theme that growing up is a challenge? Please provide quotes from the novel :)

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In Chapter Four of The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros uses personification in one of her most important quotes. Esperanza, the main character, is named after her grandmother. Esperanza does not want to grow up like her grandmother who sat by the window with such sadness: 

She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldn't be all the things she wanted to be. Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don't want to inherit her place by the window.

Esperanza's grandmother lived a life of sadness. She would not have married if her husband had not kidnapped her and forced her to marry him:

After that, Esperanza’s great-grandmother was sad and spent the rest of her life looking out the window. 

Did Esperanza's grandmother just sit by the window sadly accepting the way things were? Esperanza's grandmother represents all the women in Esperanza's neighborhood who are unhappy in their troubled relationships. Esperanza does not want to grow up to inherit her grandmother's sad life:

Esperanza worries that because she inherited her great-grandmother’s name, she may also inherit her grandmother’s seat by the window.

Through the character of Esperanza, Cisneros writes about the ghosts that haunted her. She writes using imagery, personification and other literary devices. Through her imaginative language, Cisneros includes subjects which caused her the most pain:

“If I were asked what it is I write about,” says Sandra Cisneros, “I would have to say I write about those ghosts inside that haunt me.” These ghosts—of poverty, sexism, and racism—populate The House on Mango Street,

In "There Was an Old Woman She Had So Many Children She Didn't Know What to Do," Rosa Vargas is a woman who has so many children who are out of control. Rosa's husband left her with all the children. The neighborhood people at first try to help Rosa discipline the children. Soon, the neighbors give up and do not even notice the day Angel Vargas jumps from a building and commits suicide:

"Nobody looked up not once the day Angel Vargas learned to fly and dropped from the sky like a sugar donut, just like a falling star, and exploded down to earth."

In this quote, Cisneros uses the literary device known as the simile. This quote is filled with imaginative similes. No doubt, Cisneros writes effectively as she compares Rosa's son to a "sugar donut, just like a falling star, [which] exploded down to earth."

They are bad those Vargases, and how can they help it with only one mother who is tired all the time from buttoning and bottling and babying, and who cries every day for the man who left without even leaving a dollar for bologna or a note explaining how come.

No doubt, Esperanza has witnessed the troubled women in her neighborhood. Through descriptive imagery and imaginative literary devices, Cisneros expresses the tragic lives many women lived on Mango Street. Esperanza will leave Mango Street to find a better life.

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