The House on Mango Street Questions and Answers
by Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street book cover
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Why are the Four Skinny Trees important to Esperanza in The House on Mango Street?

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The Four Skinny Trees are out of place on Mango Street.  To a great extent, Esperanza identifies with them because she sees herself out of place, to a large extent, on Mango Street.  In identifying with the trees, Esperanza is seeking to explain her own state of being in the world.  She has demonstrated to a great extent her ability to see through her own environment and her neighborhood.  She has shown the ability to see herself in both the lights that which others view her and the prism through which she sees herself.  In being able to do so, she is able to draw connections between and against different elements in her neighborhood.  The Four Skinny Trees are akin to her because they physically look out of place with the other trees on the block.  Like Esperanza, while they might not appear to be in sync with what is there, they are strong and extremely tough.  They have roots that go well beyond the surface, and like Esperanza are tied to Mango Street.  In another sense, they are significant because they are an embodiment of the transcendental qualities to which Esperanza ties herself.  One of Esperanza's strongest traits is the idea that what is there in front of her is not necessarily what will constitute the long- lasting vision of her state of being in the world.  It is for this reason that she constantly looks to clouds and the sky.  These elements represent a transcendental quality to her, something that goes beyond and past the contingency of her world.  This is something that she identifies with the trees as they "speak" to her.  Esperanza sees the trees as important because they represent an element that is not contingent, but rather universal.  The connection that Esperanza forms with them is reflective of those bonds that she will carry with her outside of the socially dictated reality of Mango Street.  It is to this end that they are important to her.

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