Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Preserving a Culture with Neighborhood Care

Many parallels exist between Cisneros The House on Mango Street and Danticat’s Krik?Krak! They shared the same structure, using vignettes to tell their stories. In these vignettes they rely tremendously on characters to tell the story of a place. They both use the stories to pass on their respective cultures. Cisneros, as a Mexican American herself, she understands how important it is to keep your heritage with you in America. She uses Esperanza to briefly illustrate some of the daily struggles of being Mexican in America, such as the examples where Esperanza wants to change her name, or when she brings a rice sandwich to school. Danticat describes the stages of Haitian people on their move to the U.S. as well as those Haitian people stuck in Haiti. She uses the last few stories about the family in New York as a way to convey her belief that it is so imperative to keep your culture alive.

Cisneros, on the very last pages, illustrates the importance of holding onto your culture but also stepping ahead into the future. Danticat and Cisneros understand that as a progressive people we cannot just sit there and continually stew in our past. Rather, we must move ahead into the future while we hold onto our past. The steps our ancestors took in the past mold our steps in the future. The chapter The Three Sisters depicts this importance of holding on while moving on. They tell Esperanza her name is beautiful and so special, while she believed it was an awful name. They also go into the fact that she is one of the special children that will have the chance to go onward, off of Mango Street. They tell her that she cannot forget to help the others who are just like her, living on Mango Street. It is her responsibility, not only because they share the same culture but also because they are neighbors.

Danticat doesn’t really address the responsibility we have for each other as neighbors. She stayed close to just the theme of keeping the culture alive in the future. Cisneros believes that part of keeping your culture alive is taking care of your neighbors. She takes the stance that a community is only as strong as their weakest member. A culture will only be able to flourish with the support of a community.