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Cisneros gives a description of the character Esperanza, using a visual language throughout the novel. Creating a particular image of the character and providing elements of Esperanza´s personality. With the careful description of the main character, the reader was able to develop the identity of the principal character. Esperanza´s interpretation of life construct an image of a teenage girl, who struggles with the fact that she belongs to two different worlds.
In the beginning of The House on Mango Street, Esperanza does not pay much attention to anything that was going around her world and the real meaning of her existence. She focuses on observing the people in her neighborhood and the problems that she has with herself defining. One of her biggest issues is with her name, "In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting...It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing."(p.10) The reason she mentions the dislike about her name was because, Esperanza was afraid that by inhering her great-grandmother´s name she would inherit the submission of the traditional role of Mexican women. Esperanza felt her name was unattractive, full of sorrow and wish she could change it. Her great-grandmother was forced to marry and had to "make the best with what she had or was she sorry because she couldn´t be all the things she wanted to be."(p.11)At this point, Esperanza acknowledges the fact that she does not want to play the role of a traditional Mexican woman. She decides to maintain her freedom and demonstrate the world that she was capable of making it in the real world. Also, Esperanza does not live in her dream house and points out that she is ashamed of the house and the neighborhood she belongs and does not want to belong to. "No, this isn´t my house I say and shake my head as if shaking could undo the year I´ve lived here .I don´t belong, Esperanza replied."(p.106) But her biggest problem was accepting her roots and the reality of coming from a minority group.
Esperanza states the distant relationship she has with her parents in the introduction of the novel, and complains about her father not being capable of affording a big house in a decent neighborhood. Soon, she realizes they have given her values and a decent education. As the novel develops, Esperanza apprehends all the good things her parents have done for her. She becomes aware of the hard work her dad has done to provide Esperanza a decent life with the necessary things and wanted the best for Esperanza. After she visualize that she has incredible parents, Esperanza becomes closer to her mother. As time goes by, Esperanza strengthens her character throughout human experiences. Many factors influenced the attitude of Esperanza and the way she built up her character physically, mentally and emotionally throughout the novel. Esperanza decides that throughout the experiences she has acquired, she wants to succeed and prosper. She becomes an ambitious young lady that wants to better her quality of life and has a clear statement of the person she wants to be. Also, she is aware that she will always be a part of Mango Street and will always return to the place of her childhood. "Until then I am a red balloon, a balloon tied to an anchor, Esperanza remark."(p.9)
Alvarez wants the reader to feel the character and visualize the situations being confronted by the protagonist. The author was able to use Dede to reach the reader and worked through their minds.
In the Time of the Butterflies, The historical novel begins when Dede acquires cultural thoughts in this process the role of women is defined as the traditional Hispanic female role; whose duty is to stay home, do housework, raise children, and is prohibited to be independent and liberal. Dede comes from a religious family which influence in her identity and as we learn throughout the novel later on becomes a conflict. When the Mirabal sisters decided to get involve with the movement against Trujillo´s government, Dede decides not to participate in the movement. She followed her role of woman and did not want to have anything to do with politics. Since, the rest of her sisters were involved in the movement Dede comes in conflict with her own self. She does not know whether to collaborate and help her sisters out or to ignore them. Finally, Dede decides that she will not help out and maintain distance with her sisters. During the unfolding of the novel Dede in some way or form elaborates in the movement. "Voz del Pueblo, Voz del cielo," (p.199) which was a code that Dede decided to use to let her sisters know that they were in danger. Dede becomes involve in the movement, because she kept helping the Mirabal sisters by taking care of their children while they were in prison. Also, Dede develops her character traits when she faces the downfall of her marriage. She begins to progress as a character by figuring out what she wants and where she is heading towards. Dede wanted to safe her marriage, but when she realizes it is too late she takes it with courage. Dede lies in bed tempted to "just let go," she means that she is tempted to stop trying to maintain her sanity. She talks herself out of it, however, thinking, "Courage! It was the first time she had used that word to herself and understood exactly what it meant." For Dede, the death of her sisters is faced with courage and strength.
In conclusion, Esperanza as well as Dede was able to figure out the meaning of their progression. Both characters widen as the stories extend. The reader was able to identify the characteristics and the individuality of the two main characters and discover the reason for their existence. Both characters come to the termination that life can be rigid, but they have to maintain strong.
1. Alvarez, J. (1994). In the Time of The Butterflies. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
2. Cisneros, S. (2009). Recuperado el 10 de Diciembre de 2010, de BookRags: http://www.bookrags.com/notes/hms/BIO.html
3. Cisneros, S. (1984). The House on Mango Street. New York: Vintage Books.