Which of the following lines from The House on Mango Street gives details about the Cisneros's culture? 1. "In English, my name means hope." 2. "It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings." 3. "It means sadness." 4. "In Spanish, it means too many letters."

All of the quoted lines give details about Esperanza Cordero’s/Sandra Cisneros’s culture. In different ways, the lines reveal the optimism, sorrow, abundance, and integration of the Latino culture depicted in Cisneros’s novel The House on Mango Street.

Expert Answers

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The lines in the question come from Sandra Cisneros’s semi-autobiographical novel The House on Mango Street. The full excerpt appears in the “My Name” chapter of the book; it reads as follows:

In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing.

Remember, the name at issue is not Sandra Cisneros, it’s Esperanza Cordero, who’s the protagonist and narrator of The House on Mango Street. It’s possible to argue that each of the lines about Esperanza’s name gives details about her culture, which, again, accounting for the autobiographical elements, is Cisneros’s culture too.

Consider how “hope” indicates a certain strain of optimism within Esperanza’s culture. Despite the hardships and suffering, Esperanza maintains the belief that she has the strength to depart from her home, be an independent person, and pursue her own truth.

Hope also occurs when Esperanza and her family move from Loomis to Mango. While their new house fails to meet Esperanza’s expectations, it indicates a culture and ethos that doesn’t feel resigned or believe that it has to give up and accept indecent living conditions.

To argue that the “sadness” line links to her culture, think about how sorrow is shown throughout the story. It’s a part of Esperanza’s own family, her friends, and the girls and boys in her neighborhood, like Angel.

As for “too many letters,” think about how the overwhelming drive to be somebody or try certain things play a key role in Esperanza’s culture. It’s as if there’s a superabundance of feelings and emotions in Esperanza’s environment. She has to somehow learn how to manage them all.

The “number nine” might seem hard to relate to Esperanza’s culture. Yet in “Hips,” Nenny sings the jumprope song, which begins, “Engine, engine number nine, running down Chicago line.” Perhaps “number nine” marks the idea that Esperanza’s culture is entwined with other cultures, like American culture.

As for “muddy color,” this line could have to do with the racism that her culture has had to face. Finally, the lines where her dad listens to records suggest that music is a crucial part of Esperanza’s/Cisneros’s Latino culture.

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