The House on Mango Street Study Guide
The House on Mango Street: Chapter Summaries
The House on Mango Street: Themes
The House on Mango Street: Characters
The House on Mango Street: Analysis
The House on Mango Street: Critical Essays
The House on Mango Street: Multiple-Choice Quizzes
The House on Mango Street: Questions & Answers
The House on Mango Street: Introduction
The House on Mango Street: Biography of Sandra Cisneros
Introduction to The House on Mango Street
The House on Mango Street is a novel by Sandra Cisneros. Published in 1984, the novel is made up of a series of vignettes that offer insight into the daily life of twelve-year-old Esperanza Cordero, a Mexican American girl living in Chicago. Cisneros, who is also Mexican American, based many of Esperanza’s thoughts and experiences on her own memories of growing up in a primarily low-income, immigrant neighborhood of Chicago. The House on Mango Street was met with critical acclaim for its portrayal of themes surrounding gender, class, race, sexuality, and identity, and it is frequently assigned reading in schools. However, due to its subject matter—including sexual abuse, domestic violence, and racism—it has also been a frequent target of censorship.
The House on Mango Street is Esperanza’s coming-of-age story. Over the course of one year, Esperanza undergoes a number of significant changes, developing both physically and intellectually. Art, especially writing, becomes the outlet through which she expresses herself and her hopes for the future. However, alongside the changes she experiences comes a series of discouraging realizations, and Esperanza grows increasingly motivated to somehow escape her impoverished circumstances. She searches among the women in her community for role models and, in doing so, paints a vivid picture of what it means to be female in a predominantly patriarchal community where opportunities are limited. Critics have praised Cisneros’s balanced and empathetic portrayal of the various women in Esperanza’s life, and The House on Mango Street is often regarded as a landmark work of both feminist and Chicana literature.
A Brief Biography of Sandra Cisneros
Sandra Cisneros (born 1954) is an American author from Chicago, Illinois. Cisneros grew up so poor that she says her neighborhood seemed like a war zone. She was also very shy, and her family moved frequently, which meant that she never had lasting friendships. She felt different from her classmates, many of whom didn’t have to struggle to learn a new language and who looked much more like the people Cisneros saw on television than she did. She therefore turned to writing to express her emotions. Cisneros's first novel, The House on Mango Street, proved tremendously successful not only because of the quality of the writing, but because it captured Cisneros’s feelings about growing up Chicana in the United States. Only when she was able to celebrate her sense of being different did she truly find her voice.