The first chapter of Sandra Cisneross book The House on Mango Street presents a young girls coming-of-age in a arguably harsh environment telling the tale of her familys constant migration as they look for profoundly better living conditions, where we dont have to pay rent to anybody, or share the yard with the people downstairs, or be careful not to make too much noise, and there isnt a landlord banging on the ceiling with a broom.
Thesis statement: The actions and interactions of the protagonist, Esperanza in the book The House on Mango Street demonstrates the characters commitment in changing and resistance to the conventional stereotypic perceptions on gender and sexuality.
In the book, the house on mango street, Sandra Cisneros explains the challenges faced by American women of Mexican descent in a society that perceives them as inferior beings. He gives a story of a young woman growing up in a society that besides being dominated by men, perceives and judges the women for their external cognitives rather than their inner self. Cisneros describes the challenges that Latino women have to endure in their daily lives for them to be fairly and equally treated.
Esperanza faces a slew of obstacles and disadvantages that are unique to growing up in a place like Mango Street, but there are other issues she deals with that are far more universal, especially her blooming sexual interests. The women in her society are overly concerned about their looks. They believe that they have to be attractive in order to be noticed by the men, who according to how they were raised are essential beings for the womens lives to be complete. The women believe that they have to be married, achieved by being beautiful and attractive. This is illustrated when Marin explains to the girls that wearing short skirts and making sure they have pretty eyes for the guys to notice are the only important things. The author, Cisneros clearly demonstrates that the value for women is given to them by men, and that only with the mens approval they become complete.
The main protagonist and heroine in The House on Mango Street is Esperanza Cordero. This is a twelve-year old girl who studies in a preparatory school located at the remote parts of Chicago. At first she is young and naive but as time progresses, she realizes that being an American woman but of a Mexican descent has its possibilities and limitations. The world she lives in is so much saturated with sexuality and gender and this thoroughly affects her as she grows up. Esperanza is seen committed to advocating for women independence. This is observed from her hopes of leaving her male-chauvinistic society, to be an independent woman and later returning to educate the women that them too could be independent and live normal, happy and complete lives.
In the society, the perfect flawless man, should be a person who is able to provide for his family and has manly characteristics such as domineering, fierceness and bravado whereas a perfect woman is one who commits herself fully and entirely to her family and to the husband as well. Esperanza knows what it entails and the attitudes the community has towards the women in her society; that they should be weak, feeble and frail. That they are victims and should be tamed by all means necessary despite their aggressiveness (As in in the case of her grandmother who is tamed by her grandfather). As indicated when her and the girls get high-heeled shoes, the girls dont seem to be particularly concerned when the men stare at them like sexual objects instead of normal people.
Cisneros has shown examples of women getting married, only to be enslaved by their husbands. The women become prisoners in their supposed homes, always looking out in the windows for a change that never comes. A good example is Sally who gets married before finishing school and ends up being limited the freedom of using telephone or even visiting her friends. Consequently, she spends her days in loneliness. Another example is Rafaela who is also locked in the house by her husband to prevent her from running away. Rafaela is a young girl with hopes and dreams that would only be achieved when she gets out of her miserable marriage and lives her own life. However, she just stays in that marriage, locked in the house and listening to the sound of music from a bar across the street being helpless. Her husband took away her freedom the minute she signed up for marriage under the belief that it would make her happy.
In the society she leaves in, women are not allowed to have dreams, ambitions or goals. Instead they are married off to start families and raise children. Infact when the women are mot doing their daily chores or looking after their husbands and children, all they do is sit on porches all day or stare through the windows as they have nowhere else to go. Esperanza realizes that that system which is run by males only will make her to be an isolated victim. Cisneros has also indicated that the men abuse their women. A good example is Minerva whose husband is trouble. She kicks him out of the house only to take him back only for the abuse to continue. She appears to be stuck in the marriage and is even quoted asking what she would do to break free.
Esperanza decides to use her sexuality to manipulate and control the status quo. She opts to be stunningly beautiful so that she can make men go crazy about her. She wants to have power and she wont let anyone take that power away from her. However, there is one problem, she considers herself to be ugly and therefore decides to come up with her own way of getting the power she wants. Esperanza decides to stand up to the stereotypic perceptions of women in her society.
In conclusion, the following can be noted. Esperanza has realized that the beliefs of those surrounding a person have a significant contribution on who a person becomes and what they believe. Therefore she hopes to one day leave her male dominated society and move to a place where people are not stereotyped or discriminated on the basis of their gender.
Esperanza refuses to follow the norm set by the society. She decides to be an eloquent person who is able to effectively expressing what she wants for herself. In the chapter Beautiful Cruel, Esperanza says that she has decided not to grow up tamed like the other women who wait for thing to be done for them. She refuses to grow up under mens domination. Sandra Cisneros uses his book to enlighten the society that they should stand up against sexuality and gender discrimination even if majority of the others seem to get along. The Author cultivates on her dual Mexican-American citizenship to reflect the experiences of Latinos in America.
Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. New York: Random House, 1991. Print.
Doyle, Jacqueline. More Room of Her Own: Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street. MELUS 19. 4 (1994): 5-28. ProQuest. Web.
Eduardo F. Elias, "Sandra Cisneros," Reference Guide to American Literature, 3rd edition, edited by Jim Kamp, Gale Research, 1994, pp. 200-02.
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