Black, white, and orange illustration of Esperanza standing in front of a building or structure

The House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros
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In The House on Mango Street, Cisneros says the mind is a house. What does this mean?

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From the start of this powerful collection of vignettes, the narrator makes clear the way that their house on Mango Street is not the house that they had all dreamed about and had been led to believe that they would have. There is a massive contrast created between the "three washrooms" and the reality of the small house that is so run down a nun can't believe that anybody actually lives there. From the start, Esperanza makes it clear that her search, her quest, is for a home where she can be comfortable and escape Mango Street, with all of its associated problems. By saying the above quote, Cisneros emphasises the power of the human mind to imagine an alternative reality for itself and to work on making that dream a reality, which is something that Esperanza achieves. Note how she thinks of her new house in the vignette entitled "A House of My Own":

Not a flat. Not an apartment in black. Not a man's house. Not a daddy's. A house all my own. With my porch and my pillow, my pretty purple petunias. My books and my stories. My two shoes waiting beside the bed. Nobody to shake a stick at. Nobody's garbage to pick up later.

Esperanza's powerful imagination creates this vision of the house she wants to own, which is of course defined in opposition to her current living arrangements. Cisneros suggests the power of the human mind in creating such dreams and then working on them to make them a reality.

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