The House on Mango Street Part XVI Summary: A House of My Own and Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes
by Sandra Cisneros

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Part XVI Summary: A House of My Own and Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes

A House of My Own

Esperanza describes the house she wants to have some day: a house completely her own, that belongs entirely to her, with only her things—her books, her stories, her shoes—inside.

Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes

Esperanza says that she likes to tell stories and that she makes up stories about her life as she experiences things. She says she is going to tell the story of a girl “who didn’t want to belong.” She describes the houses she’s lived in and says she remembers the house on Mango Street the most. When she writes this story down, it makes her feel better; it sets her free from Mango Street.

Esperanza says that one day she will leave Mango Street and everyone will wonder where she’s gone. They won’t know that she left so that she can come back for the others.

Analysis

“A House of My Own” is the shortest vignette in the novel. In it, Esperanza defines the house she longs for. She explains what it is not first. It is not a house she inherits from a father or inhabits with a husband, and there is “[n]obody to shake a stick at. Nobody’s garbage to pick up after.” It is not a house where Esperanza will fill the traditional role of homemaker and housekeeper.

Instead, her house will be quiet and clean, a house for her alone, a house made by, and for, herself. It will have only her things: “my porch and my pillow, my pretty purple petunias. My books and stories.”

Again, the house is both literal and symbolic. Esperanza is a writer, and artists need their own space to create and to develop their craft. Esperanza wants “a space for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem.” Not before a poem, but the poem, the poem to come.

As a woman, Esperanza needs her own space, too—the space to determine who and what she will be, the opportunity to be something other than a daughter and wife. And as a person, she needs to come to terms with, and accept, who she is—her strengths and weaknesses, her fears and her dreams, her uniqueness and her heritage.

This vignette, in its brevity and use of language, is one of the most poetic in the novel. It employs alliteration (porch, pillows, pretty purple petunias) and repetition (“not,” “my,” and “nobody”), and it is compact—it has the brevity and tight structure of a poem. And, like a poem, it breaks the rules of grammar: every sentence is a fragment. Esperanza breaks these rules to express herself like she will break the “rules” (and roles) that oppress Chicana women.

Before Esperanza begins to write her stories about Mango Street, before she begins to tell the story of the “girl who didn’t want to belong,” Mango Street has a...

(The entire section is 728 words.)