What does Esperanza's house symbolize in The House on Mango Street?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On the one hand, Esperanza's house is representative of security.  It

"is ours, and we don't have to pay rent to anybody...and there isn't a landlord banging on the ceiling with a broom".

On the other hand, the house is

"small and red with tight steps in front and windows so small you'd think they were holding their breath...(with) bricks...crumbling in places, and the front door...so swollen you have to push hard to get in".

The house, which has only one washroom and one bedroom for all six of her family members, is a stark contrast from the dwelling the Corderos dream of owning, one with

"a basement and at least three washrooms so when (they) took a bath (they) wouldn't have to tell everybody...(a) house...(that is) white with trees around it, a great big yard and grass growing without a fence".

The house in this sense is symbolic of limited opportunities and dreams that don't quite measure up - it is "not the house we'd thought we'd get".  Esperanza is ashamed of her house, "it (makes) her feel like nothing".  The house on Mango Street represents the restricted options available to Esperanza as a poor Hispanic woman, and she is determined to rise above these limitations and one day "have a house...a real house...one I could point to" with pride (Chapter 1 - "The House on Mango Street").

Read the study guide:
The House on Mango Street

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