Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The second half of the book The House on Mango Street really develops the ideas of home and family and heritage that are set up by the characters in the first half. The neighborhood, while in the first half is made up of unique and interesting characters, develops into more of a place of longing or desperation and in some cases hope. Instead of focusing on the makeup of the city, Cisneros brings out the attitudes and emotions of the city through it's people. The primary method of doing so is through the idea of home and the various ways in which it becomes defined.

Cisneros creates characters that think of home in different ways. There is the woman who is brought from Mexico for a better life who spends her days rejecting English and her new "home". She refused to belong and to interact because she sees it as temporary. That apartment can never be home to her. Geraldo is anonymous and we can never know that he had died alone and far from his home. He does not have anyone looking for him here, no family and no home. In the end, Esperanza herself believes that she is without a home because she refuses to embrace the house on Mango Street. She feels that she does not belong there; that she is better than that tiny, sad house. But she learns that she is part of Mango Street and it is up to her to make it a place to which she belongs. By leaving and returning and proving herself to the world, she can help Mango Street in a way that nobody else can and will. In so doing, she can save Mango Street and give other little girls the change to belong to something great.

Finally in the last portion of the book there is a very strong focus on women. These women are strong, weak, and places in between. They are locked in their homes and controlled by abusive and jealous men, and they are silently rebelious. While they may not have the freedom to move they have a stregnth to deny themselves for their children or their parents. In some cases they are just trying to escape and don't know how to do any better. Cisneros is making a very quiet commentary on the lives of poor and abused women. It would be easy to judge her characters as weak and stupid, but by showing how desparate their lives are the reader must ask what else can they do? For these women home is an even more confusing subject because to them, home is a place of oppression and pain.