Cisneros and Lippman - the importance of home
Although many people move from their original cities in order to make fresh starts in other locations, they must realize that they will always carry with them a piece of their past. No one is able to completely forget what has previously occurred. Past experiences shape a person’s life, even if this individual wishes to escape the environment in which they took place. Both Laura Lippman and Sandra Cisneros delve into this attempt to flee one’s surroundings in order to shake off one’s encounters, illustrating that one is never able to ignore the past forever.
In Laura Lippman’s Butchers Hill, she presents the reader with Jackie Weir, a woman who has attempted to forget her past but finds that she is haunted by its absence. Jackie has been avoiding her past since her youth, stating that she was ashamed because of her economic circumstances, her giving birth at a young age, and her residence in
Mama wanted me to keep the baby, so she could raise it, get a little extra AFDC money and food stamps every month. I almost went for it, too. But you know, I had finished high school and I had this nothing job, and I suddenly saw my future. I told myself, ‘This is it, girl. You’ve still got a chance to make something of yourself, but not if you keep this baby…And when I got a scholarship to Penn, I decided to change my name legally, sort of a symbol of my new life. In the back of my mind, I think I didn’t want my baby to come looking for me one day. You see, I figured I was going to be somebody real famous, real successful, and I didn’t want any tabloid trash reunion in my future. Lippman 80-81
Jackie only thought about herself and her future plans, instead of thinking about the impact that her actions could have had on her daughter. Jackie wanted to do anything in order to evade being associated with a child born out of wedlock to a man who “wasn’t interested in being a father” (Lippman 81). Jackie believed that the only way to ensure her success was to completely alienate herself from her past life in order to begin a fresh, new life without any visible stains, even though she adamantly states, “I don’t want to hide. I’m not ashamed of my past” (Lippman 81). She contradicts herself in that she did everything to put her past at a distance, yet assures Tess that she does not regret it. Jackie viewed her pregnancy as a blemish on her life that could haunt her in the future, and did not consider that it would haunt her because she missed her child’s presence in her life: “Once [my mother] was gone, I waited to feel bereft. Instead, I felt haunted, as if someone were following me. I found myself blowing off appointments, driving around Pigtown and looking at the young girls there. I kept thinking, Are you out there? What became of you? Do you hate me?’” (Lippman 82). Jackie soon realized that she could not forget her past and her proper home with her child because it resulted in her not having an identity: “Her mother was dead, her daughter was someone else’s daughter. Jackie Weir was about as alone as anyone could be in this world” (Lippman 163). Jackie’s attempts to distance herself from her family by changing her name, moving away, and creating a new life for herself resulted in her returning back to the child that she had abandoned. She was drawn back to the life that she had scorned because she had taken a piece of her past with her. One cannot avoid the past, even though one may try as many ways as possible.
One can see the same desire to move away from one’s present circumstances in Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street, in which Esperanza wishes to leave her community because she finds it to be unacceptable. Cisneros begins the novel with Esperanza’s stating, “I knew then that I had to have a house. A real house. One I could point to. But this isn’t it. The house on
I hope that the youth of