Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Although Cisneros’s style is direct, using sparse prose and often withholding as much information as she supplies, her writing is richly textured. Irony plays an important role in this story, for the truth lies in the contrast between what the reader knows to be true about this seduction and what the narrator feels about her sexual awakening. There are other ironies: The mother had a similar initiation and was sent from Mexico to the United States; Chaq, who was to bring change, brought only more of the same, as the entire story confirms traditional human behavior.

Cisneros also uses an ironic blending of Christian and pagan imagery and allusion to provide depth and to demonstrate the sense of continuity felt by the narrator. On the “holy night” of her initiation, the little Catholic girl becomes Ixchel, the moon goddess, to Chaq, the rain god.

Finally, Cisneros uses extended metaphors to reveal the attitude of the narrator, who has no sense of exploitation or shame. In the narrator’s comparison of love to a crazy man with a harmonica wheezing in and out, she demonstrates an innocence, as well as a wisdom beyond her years. She knows that life will be hard.


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

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Petty, Leslie. “The ’Dual’-ling Images of la Malinche and la Virgen de Guadelupe in Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street.” Melus 25 (Summer, 2000): 119-132.

Rodriguez-Aranda, Pilar E. “On the Solitary Fate of Being Mexican, Female, Wicked, and Thirty-Three: An Interview with Writer Sandra Cisneros.” The Americas Review 18 (Spring, 1990): 64-80.

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