Esperanza, a young girl, lives in a house on Mango Street, a house that she is not proud of, in a neighborhood that she is not proud of. Her story is told in quick snapshots each revealing a small piece of her life. Cisneros writes in a simple accessible style, it’s like Esperanza is talking to me on the stoop. She talks about the people that she knows, happenings at school and in her neighborhood, and her wishes and dreams.
Esperanza lives in a society, particularly a culture where strong women are not tolerated, where women have specific roles to play. She tells us that she inherited her grandmother’s name, but nothing else-not the defeat, not the sadness, not the grief. She is Hope.
“She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldn’t be all the things she wanted to be. Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window.
By watching friends and family members Esperanza learns many lessons, most of which seem to revolve around being true to self, remembering who you are and where you come from. Many of her lessons come from other women and from girls her age, she is witness to their triumphs and their silences. At the end she is changed, is changing.
The House on Mango Street is my first fiction selection for the Women Unbound reading challenge.