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The House On Mango Street


by Esperenza
In " The House On Mango Street", Esperanza reveals personal
experiences through which the reader is able to determine
what kind of person she is; her views on life, how she
views herself, as well as how her poverty affects her view
of life, her view of her future, and how her poverty
currently affects her place in the world. The vignettes
show different aspects of Esperanza's identity as it
evolves and changes progressively throughout The House On
Mango Street. 

Esperanza's identity, as divulged in the vignettes, is
multifaceted. Her shyness is evident when she is around
people who are unfamiliar to her. This is most likely due
to the intimidation these people pose. For example, in the
vignettes "The First Job" and "A Rice Sandwich" Esperanza
is too shy to eat with her other co-workers and peers, as
shown in the following quotation from "The First Job":
"When lunch time came I was scared to eat alone in the
company lunchroom". Another dominant feature in Esperanza's
personality is the trust she has in others. This is one of
Esperanza's weaknesses as an individual because it allows
her to be gullible and vulnerable. In 'Cathy Queen of Cats'
Esperanza's gullibility is obvious when Cathy tells
Esperanza that "...[her] father will have to fly to France
one day and find her...cousin...and inherit the family
house. How do I know this is so? She told me so.". Another
error in trusting others is that Esperanza is susceptible
to betrayal. In 'Red Clowns' Esperanza is betrayed by Sally
because Sally told Esperanza that the circus would be a fun
experience, but instead she was raped. Esperanza blames
Sally, the magazines, and the movies for lying to her about
the circus. Esperanza is a very idealistic person. She
assumes everything is pretty and fun, but when she finds
out the acrimonious reality of life she becomes
disappointed and deems herself stupid for not knowing
better. Unbeknownst to Esperanza, her naiveté and
inexperience is normal. For example, in 'Gil's Furniture
Bought & Sold' Esperanza assumes that a music box is "...a
pretty box with flowers painted on it, with a ballerina
inside..." but when it's revealed to her that a music box
is just "...a wood box that's old and got a big brass
record in it with holes" she feels ashamed she did not know
better. Despite her low self-esteem she still keeps hold of
her dream of acquiring "A house all my own.".
Esperanza's perception of herself does not mirror who she
really is. She views herself as unattractive,
unintelligent, insignificant and out of place. Such
statements as, "...skinny necks and pointed elbows like
mine....do not belong here but are here..." provide
evidence. In 'Four Skinny Trees' Esperanza describes the
four trees outside her house as how she sees herself; how
she has not found her place in the world. Esperanza, like
the trees, is trapped. While Esperanza is trapped on Mango
Street, the trees are trapped in concrete. The quotation
from "Four Skinny Trees" illustrates an optimism despite
the limitations. "Four who grew despite concrete. Four who
reach and do not forget to reach." The desire to leave
Mango Street is the desire to lay new roots. There is an
optimism which is inconsistent with Esperanza's negative
self image.
Esperanza's poverty acts as a physical obstacle from
leaving Mango Street, but it does not prevent her from
creating dreams and desires. On Mango Street Esperanza
lives in a dilapidated, tiny house; a house with "bricks
...crumbling in places..." "Everybody has to share a
bedroom..." From this poverty was born Esperanza's dream.
"I knew then I had to have a house. A real house." Although
her dream is to live in a house "with trees around it, a
great big yard, and grass growing without a fence,"
Esperanza does not plan to abandon those who cannot leave
Mango Street. "They will not know I have gone away to come
back. For the ones I left behind." Esperanza maintains a
commitment to her roots on Mango Street.
At the outset of The House on Mango Street, Esperanza is
presented as a shy girl with low self esteem. As the book
progresses she appears to become increasingly strong, and
clear about her destiny. Her optimism prevails 


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