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Literary Style 'The House On Mango Street'

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2590 words Published: 3rd May 2017

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There have been many forms of writing throughout time, but the way Cisneros wrote her book was very unique. Cisneros showed a unique style in her book The House on Mango Street. This book is about a Chicana girl trying to find her identity and her home. She is trying to find a place in society and feel comfortable with her new environment as well as her new home. Cisneros shows how Esperanza is a unique character in a way that she is very similar to the author. She shows this because the character is trying to find a way to share her writing with her new society, but at the same time adapt to her new home that is described as the house of her dreams. The house turns out to be completely different than what the Esperanza thought it was going to be like. The way Cisneros writes shows how she is educated and understand why she writes the way she does as a writer. By using a straight forward and flexible writing style, Cisneros establishes a connection with the reader by making her writing in almost as close as a poetic form and by making it easier for the reader to read and understand her work through the uses of imagery and language. She is able to produce a story about a girl who tried hard to fit in her new environment. Cisneros writes this story to explain how one’s environment can change a person, and how it can affect that person. The imagery in the story is used to make the story more realistic and more interesting for the reader. Through the imagery, she is able to bring out the most important parts of the book, and of Esperanza’s life. Cisneros is able to show that Esperanza was a teenager that was trying to figure out who she really was. As she wrote this book, she was able to make a connection between herself and between every teenager that is in doubt of who they really are. She made Esperanza the narrator to give a point of view that was related to how teenagers think. She was able to create a wonderful character using her own unique writing style.

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As Cisneros brings forth the narrator, which is the main character Esperanza, she does not introduce her as whom she really is. Cisneros does this because Esperanza does not really know who she is. Esperanza, 12 years old, is a girl that is developing throughout the book, but it was not the only thing that she developed. Her story telling of the book and writing style also matured as Esperanza gained more experiences in the novel. Esperanza is not the typical kind of girl that one would see because she was very dedicated to the life she was going to have in the future. As Cisneros begins the story, she focuses first on the move to Mango Street to show how the house that Esperanza expected was just a dream because it was a one restroom, one bedroom house. When Esperanza sees the house she was disappointed and was told that it was only a temporary house, but she thought to herself that it was a permanent stay. This house represented a lot of things in Esperanza’s life because it was where she grew up, and where she matured. Esperanza introduced herself to us in the fourth chapter. She told us who she was and who she is named after. Esperanza also told us many meanings of her name in English and in Spanish saying, “In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting” (Cisneros, 10). This quote is describing how Esperanza was not completely sure on who she was going to be. She also said that she “would like to baptize herself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one that nobody sees” (Cisneros, 11). This is describing how she was also not sure of herself because she didn’t even like her own name. She knew that her name was not right for her, so she wanted to change it. As she grew up her ideas began to change. “An adolescent is somebody who is in between things. A teenager is somebody who’s kind of permanently there. And so living with them through the various teenage hopes and sorrows and joys was curiously enough a maturing experience for me.” (Andrew Greeley). Andrew is showing that one can mature from teenagers as the teenagers mature and grow up. He is saying that teenagers like Esperanza are people to learn from because of how she struggled to find her place in her new environment.

“People on the bus wave. A very fat lady crossing the street says, You sure got quite the load there” (Cisneros, 16). Through this quote, Cisneros shows imagery. She does this to show how imagery brings the meaning of the book into a more realistic form. For example, in the book Esperanza was talking about a family and she said, “There was a family. All were little. Their arms were little, and their height was not tall, and their feet were very small” (Cisneros, 39). Using this as a sentence, the author helps the reader portray what the narrator is talking about. Cisneros imagery is so ridiculously simple, but it is very effective in a way. It helps the reader bring those characters to life. She is able to bring out what she is describing because of how she portrays her imagery. Do to her imagery, Cisneros is able to show that Esperanza wanted to “be free to do what she like, say what she like, write what she like, within the limits prescribed for her by her own sense of what is seemly and fitting” (Thomas Edward Brown). This explains how Esperanza was shown in the novel. It describes how Cisneros imagery was able to give this to the reader so the reader could understand what she was talking about when she talked about Esperanza fitting in into her new environment. The imagery used in this novel is not the only good thing that Cisneros did. Her writing style is very unique because she is writing this book in vignettes, which are small chapters. Her chapters are very small and simple, but they are very effective in giving the meaning. Cisneros is able to separate the life story of Esperanza into these small chapters. By using vignettes, she is able to identify every little detail about the character and how she began to develop throughout her life. Through the vignettes, she was also able to show the many meanings of the themes she had. One of her themes was the struggle for self definition. This is because Cisneros wrote on how Esperanza could not find her true self. She showed this at the beginning of the book when she was giving us the meaning of Esperanza’s name. Imagery helped bring this theme out because she used this to describe what she had to do to meet friends and fit in into her new society. Cisneros wrote on how Esperanza had to get used to the new house they had just moved in to. For example through her writing, Cisneros basically tried to say “I truly believe that each of us is a book waiting to be written, and that book, if written, results in a person explained” (Thomas M. Cirignano). Esperanza was one of this people because she was able to express herself by writing. This was the only way that Esperanza found her true self.

One thing about Cisneros writing style is how she put it together. In the House on Mango Street she includes part of the songs that Esperanza would sing with her friends while playing with them. For example,

“Engine, engine number nine,

running down Chicago line.

If the train runs off the track

Do you want your money back?

Yes, no, maybe so. Yes, no, maybe so…” (Cisneros, 52).

The song shows how Cisneros wanted to bring out how the characters were still maturing because they are still singing songs while at the same time playing jump rope. This is something different because she is able to portray how children used to entertain themselves in the book. Her diction is also important because of how she used it. Since Esperanza was maturing throughout the book, Cisneros used simple diction. This diction was the elementary words because she really did not know how to. As Esperanza kept maturing throughout the book, Cisneros diction did also. She is also able to show how Esperanza was still developing her speech because she still talked using fragments. For example, “My brothers for example” (Cisneros, 8). This fragment shows how her language is not fully matured, but as she gets older Cisneros is changing her writing style. This is a very unique way to write because Cisneros is able to show a different kind of writing. Her fragments and diction show how a 12 to 13 year old girl talks and is able to communicate with the reader. This is very useful when reading the book because it helps the reader not only to communicate with the character(s), but it helps the reader learn from the character(s). “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power” (Alan Cohen). This quote relates to this in a way that it is saying that people should learn to adapt to change. Cisneros was showing this throughout the whole book in Esperanza’s life because she showed how Esperanza went through this but in different ways. This quote also symbolizes this because of how Esperanza changed friends because she taught that Sally understood her more than her two friends she had before. This is because she was getting used to the idea she really had friends, but she apparently got tired of them in her own little way. This friendship did not last long because she taught she had the perfect friend, but it turned out to be a bad relation between the two. One reason for this was because they were alike, but Esperanza still was not sure who she was.

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Cisneros also showed culture in this novel. She did this to identify the kind of people that lived on Mango Street since it was a part where there were racial segregations. She mostly focused on the Mexican part of Esperanza. She showed culture through the names of the characters. Through the names, Cisneros shows what Esperanza believes in, which is a good way to bring out her culture to define herself. “The Eskimos got thirty names for snow, I say” (Cisneros, 35), which identifies that the more names a person has or is giving, the more important he/she is to that person, which is the family. The names were really important to describe Esperanza’s character because at the beginning she talked about the meanings of her name, and she said that she was going to change her name. Names represented who the person was and because of this, Esperanza wanted to change her name. Cisneros used this to clarify how Esperanza wanted to define herself as. She showed that Esperanza was still figuring out who she was going to be in the end. Another way Esperanza was able to stand out was with the shoes. She loved shoes and to her they represented womenhood because it made her think of sex and her search for independence. The author showed how Esperanza wanted to be free since they moved to their new home. Independence was what kept her in Mango Street because she wanted to learn from her experiences she had in Mango Street and turn them to her advantage until she is able to finally go her own way. For example, as she was growing up in Mango Street, Cisneros showed that she began thinking different about many things. Esperanza not only grew mentally but physically too. This led to her thinking about boys and many other things. Cisneros used this to identify how all her experiences led her to find herself. It made a path for Esperanza to follow on her way to independence. Cisneros also showed how people change as they grow up. For example, when Esperanza started to talk to Sally, she wanted to be her friend because Sally understood her better than her two friends. This was also because Sally had sexual experience that Esperanza barely started to find out about. Cisneros described every process a teenager takes when growing up so the reader can understand how hard it is to find one’s true self. This was able to show that every teenage girl has hardships when growing up specially in a neighborhood like in Mango Street.

At the end of the novel Cisneros showed how Esperanza was beginning to find herself. “I like to tell stories. I tell them inside my head. I tell them after the mailman says, Here’s your mail. Here’s your mail he said. I like to tell stories. I am going to tell you a story about a girl who didn’t want to belong” (Cisneros, 109). This is where she found who she really was and what was her purpose in life. This quote explains how towards the end to the book Esperanza finally began to figure out herself. Cisneros did this in a way that was kind of a poem towards the end to emphasize it because it was the most important part of the book. It was a huge shift because of how much Esperanza matured throughout the whole novel. By Esperanza being able to finally identify herself as a story teller, Cisneros was able to end the story by saying, “Where did she go with all those books and paper? Why did she march so far away? They will not know I have gone away to come back. For the ones who cannot out” (Cisneros, 110), which describes how Cisneros wanted the reader to know that it was time for Esperanza to leave Mango Street and be who she was meant to be. In the quote it also shows how Esperanza still used fragments in her sentences. Cisneros did this to show that she still had some maturing to do before leaving. This is why she stayed after so she can finish her school because she was not ready to leave Mango, but when she felt strong and ready to leave; she was going to do it. Because of this, Esperanza was able to show her true strength by staying in Mango Street until she was fully grown in Mango Street. Cisneros also showed how her leaving Mango Street was going to change her whole neighborhood specially does who doubted her because she was going to be a writer to express what she never did in her whole life.

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations” (Anais Nin). This quote stated by Nin establishes how Esperanza grew throughout the whole book. It shows how her growth was little by little as she was experiencing different stuff. Cisneros was able to show this through her writing style and imagery. She was able to establish a connection between her and the character in a way that she made the character find her true self by writing. Cisneros was pretty close to Esperanza do to the fact that they both write to express themselves in a way that entertain people. Cisneros unique writing led to create and amazing character to show how a teenage girl learn how to identify her true self and reach her maximum potential through storytelling and writing. Cisneros was able to portray different themes to teach the reader how one can learn to adapt to whatever change they are going through. Her writing gave the story the perfect meaning for us the readers to fully understand her amazing work.


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