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The House on Mango Street
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The House on Mango Street

Select a Chapter:
The House on Mango Street
Hairs
Boys & Girls
My Name
Cathy Queen of Cats
Our Good Day
Laughter
Gil's Furniture Bought & Sold
Meme Ortiz
Louie, His Cousin & His Other Cousin
Marin
Those Who Don't
There Was an Old Woman She Had So Many Children She Didn't Know What to Do
Alicia Who Sees Mice
Darius & the Clouds
And Some More
The Family of Little Feet
A Rice Sandwich
Chanclas
Hips
The First Job
Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark
Born Bad
Elenita, Cards, Palm, Water
Geraldo No Last Name
Edna's Ruthie
The Earl of Tennessee
Sire
Four Skinny Trees
No Speak English
Rafaela Who Drinks Coconut & Papaya Juice on Tuesdays
Sally
Minerva Writes Poems
Bums in the Attic
Beautiful & Cruel
A Smart Cookie
What Sally Said
The Monkey Garden
Red Clowns
Linoleum Roses
The Three Sisters
Alicia & I Talking on Edna's Steps
A House of My Own
Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes
 
The House on Mango Street

Note: The House on Mango Street is divided, not into chapters, but into a series of short vignettes, ranging in length from less than a page to several pages.

 

Summary
The narrator, whom we learn later is named Esperanza, recounts past places in Chicago where she and her family-"Mama, Papa, Carlos, Kiki, my sister Nenny and me"-have lived. In the past, her family has rented apartments; now, however, her family owns a small house on Mango Street, a house that does not live up to Ezperanza's dreams of what a house should be. She is embarrassed to admit to a nun from her school that the house is where she lives. Her parents tell her the house on Mango is only temporary, but Esperanza is dubious.

 

Analysis
Cisneros introduces Esperanza by having her tell us her story in her own voice, which is a child's voice, expressing itself in short sentences and often choppy fragments, yet possessing an inkling of awareness about the adult world-for example, "For the time being, Mama says. Temporary, says Papa. But I know how those things go." Readers thus learn that Esperanza is on the verge of growing up. Her passage into adolescence, her "growing up," will be the dominant theme of the novel. Esperanza's interaction with the nun at the end of the vignette dramatizes the shame Esperanza feels at living in a poor neighborhood. At other times in the book, however, Esperanza will celebrate the unique virtues of her community. In this sense, the opening vignette lays the groundwork for the last vignette (see "Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes").

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