What does Esperanza teach us about kinship, loyalty, and responsibility in The House on Mango Street?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On many levels, Esperanza teaches us that to uphold honorable values in a world filled with dishonor is challenging.  Esperanza's narrative tears the mask away from the idea that nobility is easy and a guarantee in a world that is contingent, and at best stresses contingent values.  Esperanza teaches us that loyalty and responsibility to oneself is extremely precarious.  One must be vigilant of constantly losing it.  When she and her friends dress up to "be older," they attract attention that proves to be detrimental.  While Esperanza does possesses the understanding of kinship and solidarity with her friends, she also understands that she must protect herself in a world that will not do it for her.  In this, Esperanza teaches that the idea of self- preservation in the name of loyalty and a sense of dignity in a world that seeks to strip it away is something that must be coveted, protected at all costs and regardless of situation and circumstance.  It is this honor and respect for self, a sense of personal responsibility and loyalty to one's own voice along with a sense of connection or kinship to one's dreams, that ends up defining her voice as she matures throughout the narrative.  In this, Esperanza teaches the reader that strength and commitment to honorable ideas is a pursuit that might not be immediately rewarded by the outside world, but one for which the fight is worthwhile.

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The House on Mango Street

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