House on Mango Street

Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street: Redefining Patriarchal Space

Sandra Cisneros attempts to reconstruct the traditionally patriarchal realm that is the house and negotiate a space for women. Her bilingual dedication “A las Mujeres/To the Women” recognizes her ethnicity as well as her gender, which immediately shapes the scope of her work. The title of Cisneros’ novel inevitably calls into mind Virginia Woolf’s similarly titled book, A Room of One’s Own. Whilst both novels aim to educate women and empower them, the bilingual dedication of Cisneros’ novel addresses an additional group of women that Woolf may have left out—women of colour. The House on Mango Street draws upon Cisneros’ cultural background and focuses on the patriarchal house as a motif for her reconstruction.

The novel opens with a yearning that is reminiscent of the American dream, to acquire “a real house that would be ours for always…. White with trees around it, a great big yard and grass growing without a fence” (4), yet the Corderos can only settle in a house on Mango Street that is “small and red with tight steps in front and windows so small” (4). The exterior of the house is a reflection of the constraint that is present inside it. Esperanza notes that “the boys and girls live in separate worlds… [her brothers have]...

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