What is a vignette in The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros?

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bree1228 | High School Teacher | In Training Educator

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A vignette is a short story.  Vignettes often are combined related groups of stories in book format.  It differs from an anthology of short stories because of the connecting thread, and sometimes they are written lyrically being similar to a poem. 

Sandra Cisneros, the author of The House on Mango Street, has written a series of vignettes detailing life of the Chicano experience.  The tone of the vignettes is intimate, as if the narrator is telling the reader a personal story from a first person point of view.  The themes often deal with the feminine experience, notably that of the Latina experience.  It is a coming of age tale riddled with problems involving sexuality, gender roles, and fitting into a society that is multicultural yet stifling.  

The vignettes are like little portraits in the narrator's life, as she struggles to come to terms with her need to escape her surroundings.  She wants only to escape the confines of her poor neighborhood and the traditional gender roles that go with it.  The narrator ultimately learns through her personal journey that while she yearns to leave the house on Mango Street behind, it also represents enfolding arms, like those of a family.  

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