Black, white, and orange illustration of Esperanza standing in front of a building or structure

The House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros

Start Free Trial

How does Sandra Cisneros effectively develop Esperanza in The House on Mango Street?

Quick answer:

Esperanza shows how she is coming of age along with the neighborhood. The women who surround her influence her. She does not want to become like them. Esperanza vignettes are seen through the eyes of a young girl. She matures as she sees the world around her and realizes there is more out there than what is available to her on Mango Street.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros develops the character of Esperanza effectively. Esperanza lives on Mango Street. She deals with the everyday occurrences that happen in her neighborhood. Things that happen in her neighborhood continue to shape her as a character. Through the "forty-four short tales that...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

evoke the circumstances and conditions of a Hispanic American ghetto in Chicago," Esperanza grows into a young woman.   

The narrative is seen through the eyes of Esperanza Cordero. As Esperanza is coming of age, she is beginning to think about life outside of the neighborhood. She dreams about leaving the neighborhood and having a better life. She vows to leave one day and take as many as she can with her:

Esperanza demonstrates empathy for those around her, particularly those who do not see beyond the confines of their situations: "One day I will say goodbye to Mango. I am too strong for her to keep me here forever. One day I will go away.

As Esperanza shares vignettes of her cultural traditions, "her perceptions range from humorous anecdotes pulled from life in the barrio to more dark references to crime and sexual provocation." She effectively portrays other characters, particularly females. Esperanza matures throughout the stories she tells. She finds her sense of self identity through the women she analyzes. She analyzes the young women who wear black and make up. She walks around herself in high heel shoes, trying to determine her own identity. She is courageous enough to transcend her difficult circumstances. She realizes there is a bigger world out there and she longs to discover it. 

Truly, Esperanza finds herself while examining feminist ideas. Despite the unfairness, she realizes that there are separate rules for women and men. Inequalities exist on Mango Street. Esperanza is very perceptive. She observes women who are trapped in abusive marriages and vows to never grow up to be in such an abusive relationship:

"I have decided not to grow up tame like the others who lay their necks on the threshold waiting for the ball and chain."

She does not want to become a prisoner of her neighborhood. She will leave one day and find a better life, but she will not forget the neighborhood which helped shape her identity:

"One day I'll own my own house, but I won't forget who or where I came from."

Esperanza's ability to see the barriers of her neighborhood, along with her education in reading and writing, will keep her from becoming trapped like the women who surround her. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial