Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 20, 1954, the only daughter in a family of seven children. Her mother, Elvira Cordero Anguiano, was a self-educated Mexican American who kindled her children’s enthusiasm for reading by taking them to libraries. Her father, Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral, was a Mexican upholsterer who regularly moved the family between Chicago and Mexico City.
In Chicago Catholic schools, where expectations for Mexican American girls were low, Cisneros was a below-average student, but she read voraciously and began writing early. After graduating from Loyola University in Chicago in 1976, she earned a master’s degree at the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she learned “what I didn’t want to be, how I didn’t want to write.”
Upon returning from graduate study to Chicago, she awakened to what she called the “incredible deluge of voices” that has become the hallmark of her writing. Her stories and poems reveal a variety of voices, Mexican American voices mainly, telling their stories in an exuberant mixture of English and Spanish.
Her writing career started slowly. She earned her living as a teacher, college recruiter, arts administrator, writing teacher, and lecturer. Her choice to remain poor in order to write puzzled her father and brothers and often caused her to wonder whether she was betraying her beloved Mexican American culture by choosing a nontraditional life....
(The entire section is 496 words.)
While Cisneros’s themes often concern race, gender, and class, her stories and poems are not narrowly political. Rather than focusing on specific social problems and their remedies, Cisneros tries to be part of a more general solution, calling attention through lively and entertaining stories to how life is experienced, especially by Mexican American women. In Caramelo, she emphasizes family as a model for humanity, and storytelling as the central means by which universal human interdependence and connectedness become visible. In her stories, she works at changing the ways her readers look at their worlds, helping them to imagine better ways to live. In these ways, her work is related to that of major local color writers...
(The entire section is 126 words.)
Sandra Cisneros was born in 1954 into a working-class family in Chicago, Illinois. With a Mexican American mother, a Mexican father, and six brothers, she described her circumstances as being similar to having seven fathers. Because of close familial and cultural ties with Mexico, the Cisneros family moved back and forth between a series of cramped apartments in Chicago and the paternal grandmother’s home in Mexico City. The concept of home or the lack of one would later weigh heavily in Cisneros’s writing. The combination of an uprooted lifestyle and an ever-changing circle of friends, schools, and neighborhoods, as well as the isolation that resulted from her brothers’ unwillingness to let a girl join in their play, led Cisneros to turn inward to a life of books. That time spent alone allowed an observant, creative voice to take root in the author.
Cisneros considered her career as a professional writer to have begun in 1974—the year in which she enrolled in a writing class as a junior at Loyola University of Chicago, where she would later receive her bachelor of arts degree in English. It was her tenure at the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, from which she took a master of fine arts degree, however, that proved an invaluable aid in the formation of her own literary voice. During a discussion of Gaston Bachelard’s La Bétique de l’espace (1957; The Poetics of Space, 1964), in which her classmates spoke of the...
(The entire section is 436 words.)