A Literary Analysis of The House on Mango Street

Esperanza’s dream world is an accumulation of hopes and dreams of independence due to a childhood plagued with poverty and family frustrations. In The House on Mango Street Esperanza dreams of having a place all her own one whose simply dcor would reflect her as a person. She is not struggling against her economic depression but rather her lack of independence. Esperanzas need for a home is very much related to her economic situation, her dreams for and frustrations towards her family, and her need to have a place of her own free from the constraints she finds both inside and outside her present habitation.

When describing her house, Esperanzas thoughts reflect her disturbed and turbulent emotions that she is experiencing. A description of her new house helps the reader understand the narrators shame and understand the severity of her disappointment. Its small and red with tight steps in front and the windows so small youd think they were holding their breath.

Bricks are crumbling in places, and the front door is so swollen you have to push hard to get in. Her personification of the house reveals how crucial the issue of a home is to the narrator. It as if the house has an agency of its own and is blocking Esperanzas path to happiness in a place of her own. Another reference to her dissatisfaction with her living conditions lies in the conversation between the nun and Esperanza. Where do you live? She asked. There, I said pointing up to the third floor. You live there? I live there. I nodded. The short of question and answer adds a tone of tension to the dialogue. The repetition of the word live alludes to the overall theme of home, and the nun provides an unintentional verbal beating to her.

Esperanza allows the reader to see the poverty that runs though Mango Street through her sharp perception through detail and dialogue. Esperanzas ideal house is not one of great beauty or elegance, but one of her own. She would relish the solitude and independence. At the ladder part of the story, Esperanza again gives the summary of the familys different addresses, but she stops at Mango Street because she remembers the sad red house, the house I belong but do not belong to the most. The painful emotions that Mango Street evokes in Esperanza are relieved when she finally expresses her love-hate relationship with the place upon paper. She says that some day she will say goodbye to Mango street, so that one day she can come back for those like so many of the characters er have met- who can not make it out on their own.

Another major conflict between Esperanza and her dream world and the realities of Mango street, lie in Monkey Garden. When the family who owned both monkey and the garden moved, she relished not having to hear the animal and to explore the garden that the monkey had once guarded. At first, the garden was a wonder of botanical beauty, and then in time becomes an overgrown graveyard for cars. The garden ceases to be the sight of childhood pleasure for Esperanza when Sally enters the garden to kiss a group of boys. Filled with unexplainable anger, she becomes both a snitch and a warrior armed with sticks and a brick in order to save Sally. When she is forced away, she painfully comes to terms with the fact that she no longer exists as a carefree girl. The joy Esperanza feels while observing the life in the garden is evident in her light hearted diction, such as dizzy bees, bow-tied fruit flies turning somersaults and humming in the air. 

The garden itself is a manifestation of themes of self-definition and determination that is exemplified by the childrens ability to hide from their parents and invent their own play spaces there. Her paradise in the garden becomes humiliation and disappointment for her, it is the place where she is forced to let go of childhood. Esperanza feels that she is a stranger to herself and keenly feels her lack of self-identity in a welcoming place. Her feelings of isolation are emphasized by the fact that a personified tree is her only source of comfort, as it is the sole being that wouldnt mind if I lay down and cried a long time. Esperanza is forced to confront the reality that is her life by waking up from her dream world.

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