The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What are six metaphors from The House on Mango Street?  Why are they important?

Expert Answers info

Domenick Franecki eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write4,282 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

In The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, the house itself is a metaphor. "It's small and red with tight steps in front and windows so small you'd think they were holding their breath" (page 4). The house, and the other metaphors that the author regularly uses, stand for the pervasive sadness and occasional joy that characterize life as a poor latino family in the United States.

For example, even Esperanza's name is metaphorical. As Esperanza, the narrator of the novel, says, "It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing" (page 10). Her name, which means hope, is also tinged with sadness because her family hopes for a better life in the United States that they have not yet achieved. Her great-grandmother, described metaphorically as "a wild horse of a woman" (page 11), was also named Esperanza, but her future husband carried her off  "as if she were a fancy chandelier" (page 11). In other words, her great-grandmother's hope for something better was thwarted, and her name is ironic as a result. 

While many of the metaphors in the novel carry the sadness of Esperanza's life, many are also joyful or celebratory. For example, she says, "My hair is lazy. It never obeys barrettes or bands" (page 6). Her mother's hair, on the other hand,"smells like bread" (page 7). These metaphors convey the distinctiveness and joy of the family, as does the metaphor describing their laughter, which is "all of a sudden and surprised like a pile of dishes breaking" (page 17). The author's metaphorical language give a distinctive sense of what Esperanza's life is like on Mango Street. 

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,149 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The House on Mango Street  is a novel narrated by Esperanza who, along with five members of her family, move into a barrio and must live in a...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 619 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

teachertaylor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write1,505 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial