In The House on Mango Street, why are groups that help in such situations absent from the novel?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is interesting that the very absence of such groups as social services that should be helping the residents of Mango Street in their various and manifold problems highlight the way that barrios like the one Esperanza grew up in did not have the same resources and support available to them. The general picture that is presented to us is one of crime, robbery, abuse and violence with neglectful parents. No mention at all is made of any organisation that could help with such issues. Thus Cisneros makes clear the profound isolation of life for immigrants in the States and the grim realities that many of them have to face. You could pick any number of female characters who marry and have children early and suffer such issues as abuse. Consider "Minerva Writes Poems" and the narrator's assessment of Minerva's position:

Next week she comes over black and blue and asks what can she do? Minerva. I don't know which way she'll go. There is nothing I can do.

These situations are presented as being hopeless and without answers. The absence of any form of social services or other organisations is used to underline the harshness of life of Latino immigrants who are not able or entitled to access the same support as American citizens.

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