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 causes and effects in The House on Mango Street?

Esperanza struggles with her identity as a Mexican American and an immigrant. Her father is strict, but he means well. His actions are the results of his own experience growing up in Mexico. He wants to protect her and keep her safe from the harsh realities of life in America.

Expert Answers

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

If I were to consider the many causes and effects in Sandra Cisnero's The House on Mango Street, I would focus on the events that support the theme of the novel that growing up as an immigrant in a poor neighborhood can have detrimental effects. The novel is made up of a series of short stories about Esperanza, her family, and her neighbors living on Mango Street. All of the characters are working class and many of them, like Esperanza and her family, are immigrants who are struggling to make it in the United States. A lot of the stories are about the struggles of growing up, especially for immigrant girls. Many of them face hardships that are the result of causes out of their control. For example, Esperanza's friend, Sally, is abused by her father because she is very attractive and gets a lot of attention from boys. He is so worried that she will turn out like his sisters (who must have had problems with men), that he hits her and doesn't let her leave the house. As a result, she runs off and gets married very young to escape her father's abuse. There are many more examples in the novel that show how growing up as an immigrant in a poor neighborhood could have negative effects.

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

One cause and effect relationship that occurs in The House on Mango Street has to do with Esperanza's lie to the nun about where she lives.  In the chapter titled "A Rice Sandwich," the nun insists that Esperanza go home to eat lunch.  She then asks Esperanza to point out the window to her house.  Esperanza is embarrassed, so the nun points to a row of degraded houses a few blocks away from the school.  Esperanza knows that she does not live there, but she lies and says that she does.  The nun points to these dilapidated houses because she assumes the worst about Esperanza and her family's economic condition--her own prejudice causes her to point at the worst houses she sees on the block.  Esperanza lies because she is ashamed of her family's poverty--she may recall a time in the past when another nun pointed to her house and asked her if she lived "There?", suggesting that the home was reprehensible.  The thoughts and misunderstandings that people have regarding socioeconomic class factor into these two cause and effect relationships.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team