What is the Cisneros's intention in writing about Mango Street?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In many regards, Mango Street is an exploration of the collision between the promises and possibilities of the future and the pain- ridden reality in which we live.  Esperanza speaks to this in pointed detail: "I knew then I had to have a house. A real house. One I could point to. But this isn't it. The house on Mango Street isn't it. For the time being, Mama says. Temporary, says Papa. But I know how those things go."  Mango Street is the representation of Esperanza's challenges in life. In the world of Mango Street, she lives in economically challenging conditions, a world where her safety is threatened, and in a real where her desire to dream, or hope as in her namesake, is limited because she is a woman.  Writing about Mango Street becomes a vehicle to reflect on how individuals can still aspire and still fight for a transformative vision of what can be even when what is represents blight and despair.  In writing about Mango Street, Cisneros demonstrates that individuals do not have to take the form of the world around them.  They can represent hope, as Esperanza does.  Through detailing Esperanza's desire to embrace dreams from ashes, one gains an understanding of Cisneros's intention in writing about Mango Street. 

In another sense, Cisneros's intention in writing about Mango Street reflect an autobiographical motivation.  Like Esperanza, Cisneros is born into a setting in Chicago where her identities as both a woman and a Latina bring her into fundamental challenge with the world around her.  Like Esperanza, this happens both in her home and in the community where she is enveloped.  In giving voice to Esperanza, Cisneros gives voice to her own condition.  Cisernos writes about Mango Street to communicate her own predicament.  In doing this, there is a grounded condition to Esperanza, almost reflecting how this is not merely fictional.  It is not a construct of the imagination.  Rather, Cisneros's intention in writing about Mango Street is to convey the reality that people endure and the struggle in what it means to be a thinking individual in a world that does not validate it.

Read the study guide:
The House on Mango Street

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