The House on Mango Street Study Guide

The House on Mango Street By Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street is a collection of vignettes that chart the life of a young Latina girl, Esperanza Cordero, growing up in the Chicano ghetto of Chicago. Esperanza wants nothing more than to say goodbye to her poverty and especially her house, which she sees as a symbol of everything wrong with her life: the entire family sleeps in one giant room, men mistreat their wives and children, and the women are sexual targets of opportunity for men anytime they are outside of the home.

The novella chronicles events that take place over the course of one very formative year of Esperanza's life, during which she matures physically and emotionally. Esperanza begins taking memoirs to escape the suffocating effect of her environment, but the novella isn't limited to Esperanza's perspective; several neighbors tell their stories, giving a more complete picture of the neighborhood and the influences on Esperanza's life.

Esperanza starts her vignettes by quickly befriending two girls who live across the street, Lucy and Rachel. The three, along with Esperanza's little sister Nenny, have many adventures within the confines of their own neighborhood.

As Esperanza begins to experience puberty, she realizes that she likes the way boys look at her when she dances. Her experiences lead her to become friends with Sally, a girl her age who is big into boys. She uses boys to validate her, as her father is distant and abusive. Esperanza isn't entirely comfortable with Sally's sexuality.

Their friendship is ruined when Sally ditches Esperanza -- for a boy -- in the middle of a carnival, and Esperanza is subsequently cornered and raped by a group of boys. This, coupled with a few earlier less dramatic incidences of misogyny, cement her desire to get out of the neighborhood no matter what it takes.

Even when Esperanza does eventually escape Mango Street, she realizes that it will stay with her forever. The novella closes with Esperanza vowing to come back to Mango Street and help the others like her that need to get away.

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Why does esperanza stop believeing in her parents dream to move into a nice house in a nice neighborhood

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