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

The House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros
Start Free Trial

What are some examples of imagery in Chapter 4 of The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Imagery is comprised of words that conjure the five senses in our imaginations: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.

In chapter four of The House on Mango Street Cisneros uses the image of the great-grandmother at the window leaning on her elbow to represent people who look out at life without participating in it, something Esperanza does not want to do. This is the first instance of women, such as Mamacita and Minerva, who peer out of apartment windows as if they are trapped in jail cells. Often in literature the image of the window represents vistas of opportunity and freedom, but in this novel it is an image of female entrapment.

However, Cisneros also lends the great-grandmother more complexity: she has not always spent her life gazing out a window. She was once a "wild horse of a woman," the words "wild horse" painting a picture or image in our mind of creature that is beautiful, proud, and free. Because Esperanza imagines a horse as free and independent, she does not believe that being born in the year of the horse, as she has been told, is a sign of weakness.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Chapter 4, "My Name," Esperanza says her name is "a muddy color" (10). This is an example of imagery, providing visual images or other sensory details to describe something. Another example of imagery is Esperanza's comparison of her name to "the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing" (10). This example of imagery uses the sensory details of the sound of a song to describe the sadness of Esperanza's name. Later, Esperanza says, "At school they say my name funny as if the syllables were made out of tin and hurt the roof of your mouth" (11). She adds, "But in Spanish my name is made out of a softer something, like silver" (11). These two sentences are also examples of imagery, as they use sensory details, such as the sound and feeling of tin and the softer feeling of silver, to describe Esperanza's name.  

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team