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The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

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1 The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
This is a heartbreaking and hopeful book told by a young girl named Esperanza Cordero. Each chapter is a vignette that tells a poetic tale connected to her childhood on Mango Street. The story takes place in a barrio in Chicago. Esperanza dreams of the house she will someday have – her own house, not on Mango Street.

2 - Esperanza Cordero, age 12
“In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting” (p. 10) - Esperanza Cordero, age 12

3 About the Author Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in l954, the third child and only daughter in a family of seven children. In the past she has worked as a teacher and counselor to high-school dropouts, and has taught creative writing at every level. She has won many awards for her books, which have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

4 A Few Important Terms Vignette - a short, well written sketch or descriptive scene, usually using poetic language. Barrio - a Spanish word meaning neighborhood; often used in the United States to refer to a lower-class area with mostly Spanish-speaking residents. Latino/a - as used in American English, generally refers to a U.S. citizen of Latin American descent. Coming of Age Story – a story in which the young protagonist undergoes adventures and inner turmoil in his or her growth and development as a human being.

5 THEMES: What is the author trying to say?
The Power of Language: Esperanza observes the people around her and realizes that not knowing the language creates powerlessness. Her Aunt Lupe tells her to keep writing because it will keep her free, and Esperanza eventually understands what her aunt means. The Struggle for Self-Identity: Esperanza’s struggle to define herself underscores her every action and encounter. Esperanza must define herself both as a woman and as an artist, and her perception of her identity changes over the course of the novel.

6 STYLE: How does she say it?
Cisneros uses the following poetic devices to bring this story alive: Simile – “My papa’s hair is like a broom” (p. 6) Metaphor – “Until then I am a red balloon, a balloon tied to an anchor” (p. 9) Personification – “Four skinny trees…grab the earth between their hairy toes and bite the sky with violent teeth and never quit their anger” (p. 74) Alliteration – “…mother who is tired all the time from buttoning and bottling and babying…” (p. 29)

7 Why is this book worth reading?
This story is easy to relate to because we all struggle with what it means to grow up and search for our own identities, but it also gives us a window into someone else’s view, especially someone whose background and environment may be very different from our own. Also, the vignettes are enjoyable because they are short and very descriptive.

8 If you like The House on Mango Street, you might also like these…
MOVIES: Real Women Have Curves, Stand By Me, Mean Girls, ATL, Holes BOOKS: The Outsiders, To Kill A Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Persepolis POETRY: 19 Varieties of Gazelle by Naomi Shihab Nye

9 To find out more, visit these…
The Authorized Sandra Cisneros Web Site The Barrio Museum (el Museo del barrio) Glossary of Poetic Devices Teen Ink Review of The House on Mango Street

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