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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What binds the family together in The House on Mango Street?

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It is clear from this novella that the experience of growing up in the neighbourhood where Esperanza's house is based is very challenging. The poverty and want and experience of growing up in a different culture that is so different from the residents' own Latino culture creates massive tensions and conflicts that cause some of the people in Esperanza's neighbourhood to turn to crime or engage in other social evils. However, Esperanza's family is always portrayed as remaining close and being incredibly loving, in spite of these problems. Note how Esperanza portrays her father in "Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark":

My Papa, his thick hands and thick shoes, who wakes up tired in the dark, who combs his hair with water, drinks his coffee, and is gone before we wake, today is sitting on the bed.

What binds this family together more than anything else therefore is love. In this section of the book, Esperanza's father tells her that his own father has died, which explains why he is not going to work like he normally does. Esperanza's reaction is to "hold and hold and hold him" as she thinks about what she would do if her own father died. What unites this family together is the massive love that they have for each other, which proves to be more than enough to give Esperanza the solid base that she needs as she seeks to explore her own identity in this strange hybrid world that she inhabits.

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