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 literary elements are in the last paragraph of "The First Job" in The House on Mango Street?

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Esperanza's first job is obtained by her Aunt Lala at the Peter Pan Photo Finishers. The last paragraph of "The First Job" describes an "older Oriental man" who comes up to talk to her, offers her friendship, and a companion to sit with in the lunchroom. She says that he has nice eyes so she didn't feel nervous anymore. But then he sets her up for a slobbery kiss on the lips by asking her for a birthday kiss. When she goes for his cheek, he plants one on her.

There aren't many literary elements to speak of in this paragraph about the kiss. There are no similes, metaphors, or descriptive imagery to zero in on. What can be noticed from a literary standpoint is how the sentences are structured. Each sentence is long, but connected with the word and. This sentence structure seems to suggest that a lot happens very quickly for Esperanza. For example, Esperanza's tone seems confused because it is her first day so her head must be spinning as people are punching in and out of work for the day. So much is going on so quickly around her, that the sentences' structures help to create a confused atmosphere for the scene.

"Then he asked if I knew what day it was, and when I said I didn't, he said it was his birthday and would I please give him a birthday kiss. I thought I would because he was so old and just as I was about to put my lips on his cheek, he grabs my face with both hands and kisses me hard on the mouth and doesn't let go" (55).

The sentence structures' phrases and clauses in the passage are linked with the word and multiple times. Again, this creates a fluidity for the scene as if everything is going on very quickly for Esperanza. Since everything is happening so quickly, she winds up being taken advantage of with the old man's kiss. By linking the little details together with the word and, it is easier to picture how the trick went down so smoothly.

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