Interpretive essay the house on mango street

It is important to recognize that the three novels contain religious language that at once seems to undercut traditional religion, and in the mouths of the young seems to say more than they realize. Huck, for instance, is supposedly an uneducated soul, and when Miss Watson talks about going to "the good place," he replies that if she's going there he "doesn't think he'll try for it" 2. This is not only humorous, but unknown to Huck juxtaposes for the reader the fact that Miss Watson does not seem to connect her practice of religion with ownership of slaves.

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Christianity has to do with compassion, and that Huck will put into practice in his friendship with Jim. Likewise, Holden might see religions and ministers as phony, and himself as an atheist, but in arguing with one of his school mates, he says that he has an attraction to Jesus, and does not like the Disciples because they let Jesus down.

And he can't imagine Jesus sending even Judas to hell. For the reader, Jesus' compassion only parallels Holden's own life, where he feels so deeply for others, though so many fail him. For Esperanza, religion is a cultural thing; in her Catholic world, God the father and Virgin Mother are household terms.

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But for this young poet, religion takes on mythic or poetic dimensions. She sees herself, for instance, as a red "balloon tied to an anchor" 9 , as if to say she needs to transcend present conditions where mothers are trapped and fathers abusive. She even sees herself molested in a monkey garden a modern Eden among red clowns bloodthirsty males.


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In the end, when Esperanza meets three aunts, or sisters her trinity , she in effect has a spiritual vision, one which she describes in concrete language. One is cat-eyed, another's hands are like marble, a third smells like Kleenex. The girl uses these sights, smells, and touches to envision poetically her future house. As with Huck and Holden, there is something she does not fully understand.

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What she knows is that through these comadres comothers she will give birth to something very new. Like the two male protagonists, she longs for a respect and compassion absent in her experiences on Mango Street, and these women are her spiritual inspiration. The ending of Mango Street is also very significant in terms of literary continuity.

Just prior to the end Esperanza meets the three aunts at the funeral of a sister of her friends Lucy and Rachel; they tell her she cannot forget who she is and that if she leaves she must come back. In the end the girl recognizes that she both belongs and does not belong to Mango street.

The House on Mango Street summary

Then she vows to return to the house because of the "ones who cannot" leave. One reason for this is her writing, which has made her strong.

She plans to "put it down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much" What this means relative to other women's novels is that she reverses a trend. In Our Nig , Nig is dissipated in the end. The protagonist of Yellow Wallpaper goes crazy before literally crawling over her dominating husband's body.

Edna in The Awakening swims to her death rather than face a culture that will not recognize her identity. Not so with Esperanza. She is strong something Mexican women should not be , perfectly aware of the problems with a patriarchal culture, and because of her love for her people, albeit abused and dehumanized, vows to return, and it is the writing which gives her the strength. Here is where Cisneros returns to Huck and Holden for her cue. Consciously or not, Huck has challenged the very basis of a pre- Civil War culture. In the last fifth of the novel, however, it's not clear whether he returns to the ways of Tom Sawyer in staging Jim's escape or whether he's come to a new level of consciousness where he confronts Tom in the name of Jim.

In the end he lights out into the territory so, in his words, they won't "civilize me" In this way he seems to reject the culture of slavery, even though in Tom Sawyer among the Indians , written afterwards, Huck returns to that culture by adopting with Tom old romantic ways. In any case, the notion of going back, even to join an abusive culture, or not going back, is a key issue in Twain's handling of Huck in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Holden is slightly different. In the end he is recovering from the shock he received from living in a post- World War II world. It has devastated him. But in telling his story he seems to come back to normal, so that the very telling has the effect of giving him strength. Indeed, he says,. I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old Stradlater and Ackley, for instance.


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  • I think I even miss that goddam Maurice. It's not clear how Holden will relate to his phony world again, any more than it is with Huck, except that he consciously chooses it, perhaps because he needs people, no matter what they are like. But the fact is he's going back. Esperanza's choice has a different twist.

    Thoroughly aware of the abusive nature of her culture, she comes to the decision that though she does not want to come from Mango Street, and does not want to go back till somebody "makes it better" , she nevertheless chooses to return for the sake of the others. She is "strong" and, in contrast to Huck, feels drawn back, not just because she needs people, like Holden, but because they need her.

    There is one other way in which Cisneros seems to look to her predecessors for literary and cultural continuity, and that is the way she as an author comes into the text.


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    • House on mango street summary essay.
    • Mark Twain, of course, creates in Huck the authentic voice of an illiterate river boy. At times, however, it is not clear whether it is Huck speaking, or Twain the satirist. When Huck tears up his letter to Miss Watson, for instance, he may think he's going to hell, but we know he's acted morally, indeed courageously. And sometimes Twain uses a tone and style quite different from Huck's, as in Col. Sher-burn's lecture to the mob on cowardice after the killing of Boggs. Here Twain seems to be talking directly to his reader, and if we can connect the two incidents, the author may be directly lecturing us all on how cowardly we are compared to the growing, thinking, choosing Huck.

      In Catcher Holden speaks in the language of an immature adolescent, often using words like "sonofabitch" and "goddam," while in his own mind he's becoming a "madman" Still, we sympathize with him as sensitive, perceptive, and highly moral. At times, however, Salinger seems to break through the text, as in the person of Antonelli, who tells Holden "you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior.

      Just as someday if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you" It is as if Salinger is telling his audience to read Holden's story if you really want to know what is wrong with this age. In Mango Street Cisneros has created the voice of a child, who is also a poet, a writer. For the most part that voice is consistent, but sometimes not.

      Once when Esperanza is playing an outside voice puts her friends and herself in perspective:. In this case it is the author who seems to be speaking. And when Lupe is dying, and Esperanza helps lift her head, suddenly we are inside Lupe: "The water was warm and tasted like metal" Here the author's presence is unmistakable.

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      Perhaps Cisneros's most significant intrusion comes when Esperanza says that Mexican men do not "like their women strong" 10 —a comment that belongs more to an adult than a child, and it seems to underpin the whole novel. Shannon Sikes claims that Esperanza as writer plays with the narratorial voice throughout the book, so that it's difficult to distinguish between the younger and a later, older person who is both character and author So Cisneros, like Twain and Salinger, seems to enter the narrative to help define its ultimate meaning.

      Unlike the boys' quests, however, this novel is a collection of genres—essays, short stories, poems—put together in one way to show Esperanza's growth, but in another to imitate the part-by-part building of an edifice. Indeed, the house on Mango Street does not just refer to the place Esperanza is trying to leave, but to the novel itself as "a house" which Esperanza as character and Cisneros as author have built together.

      Huck may go out to the territory, rejecting civilization, and Holden may tell his story to gain the strength to return, but Esperanza through her writing has in fact redesigned society itself through a mythical house of her own. In this regard, Lupe once told Esperanza to "keep writing," it will "keep you free" At that time the girl did not know what she meant, but in the end Esperanza says "she sets me free" , so in a sense the house is already built—a monument to her people and her sex. Andrea O'Reilly Herrera says that Esperanza's house is an imaginative version of Mango Street "resurrected, reconstructed, and rendered through language" 4.

      Indeed, Esperanza is very different from the other women in the text. She has learned from them and not made their mistakes. So she is not trapped like her mother, Alicia, or Sally, or the others. Like Huck and Holden, she is the example for other Chicana women whom Cisneros would have us take to heart. Indeed, as the witch woman Elenita predicted earlier, Esperanza elects to build a "new house, a house made of heart" And in the tradition of, but distinct from Huck and Holden, that is just what she has accomplished. Branch, Edgar. Salinger: A Study in Literary Continuity.

      Theme essay for the house on mango street

      Henry Anatole Grunwald. New York: Harper and Row, The House on Mango Street. New York: Vintage, Originally published by Arte Publico Press in a somewhat different form in Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper.