2Growing Up in Chicago Born in the Hispanic Quarter of Chicago in 1954 Mexican-American (Chicana)She was the only girl in a family of seven, and grew up in povertyHer parents emphasized educationHer family moved often; she was shy and introverted, but connected with her community privately through writing
3Becoming a WriterAttended Loyola University in Chicago as an English majorDecided to become a writerAttended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, a graduate school for young writersWas afraid her unprivileged background would put her at a disadvantage in the literary worldHowever, her heritage gave her the unique voice that shaped her career
4Books by Sandra Cisneros Bad Boys, Mango Press: San Jose, California, 1980The House on Mango Street , (Arte Publico Press: Houston, Texas, l984), Vintage: New York, 1991.Woman Hollering Creek, Random House: New York, 1991My Wicked Wicked Ways, (Third Woman Press: Berkeley, California, l987), Random House: New York, 1992La Casa En Mango Street, translated by Elena Poniatowska, Vintage Español, New York, 1994.Loose Woman, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1994.Hairs/Pelitos, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, Spanish translation by Liliana Valenzuela.Caramelo, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, Spanish edition translated by Liliana Valenzuela.Vintage Cisneros, Vintage, New York, 2004.
5The House on Mango Street: Narrator The work is narrated by Esperanza Cordero, thirteen, a Chicana girl in Chicago.Although told in the voice of a young girl, it addresses mature subject matter.In English, Esperanza means hope, and also, waiting.This choice of name is significant in the novel: the character and her independence represent a way out of the slums.As she watches her neighborhood, she decides that she will not become like the women she knows, trapped and powerless in a man’s world.
6The House on Mango Street: Setting Mango Street symbolizes both Esperanza’s ball and chain and her inspiration.In the beginning of the novel, she is disappointed with the house on Mango Street.She finds that she is not like the other residents of Mango, that she can and will find the strength to leave her life there.She realizes that Mango is a part of her, and where she comes from is as important as where she’s going.She knows she must come back, to help the others who are trapped there.Cisneros’s writing is very imagistic. She makes unexpected comparisons between things to give connotations to what she describes.
7The House on Mango Street: Structure The novel is told as a series of vignettes, 1-4 pages eachThere is no real chronological plot, but a series of insights into Esperanza’s thoughts and feelings.The vignettes show the trends in behavior in the community and provide a contrast between strength and weakness, between freedom and bondage.The novel is dedicated A Las Mujeres, To the Women.
8The House on Mango Street: Characters Alicia, the medical student who is still bound to her old fears.Marin, who waits.Beautiful Rafaela, the modern-day Rapunzel.Rosa Vargas, with too many children, crying for the husband who left.Mamacita, who dreams of the pink house she left behind and refuses to speak English.Sally, the subject of abuse until she marries, to escape, before eighth grade, and moves from Mango Street into into another sort of trap.And then there is Esperanza, who is like the skinny trees outside her tiny window, who longs for a house all her own, who starts her own quiet war.
9The House on Mango Street: Significance This is Cisneros’s first novel.It is a way to relate her cultural identity to her life and the lives of others.Cisneros seeks to break the cycle of defeats that women suffered due to social and religious stereotypes.Esperanza is an outlet for the author’s views on the perceptions of women in her milieu.
10Further ResearchFor more biographical information:For more analysis of The House on Mango Street:To buy books by Sandra Cisneros:Teaching resources for Cisneros’s works: