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Annotated Bibliography

Taylor, Brianna E. "“The Only Way Out Is In”: Negotiating Identity through Narrative in “The House on Mango Street and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao." (2017). The paper uniquely captures the complexities that women undergo as they struggle to self-attain. The author engages the readers with a profound narrative of Esperanza’s story. The article reveals the creative art of the artist in revealing the American-Dominican culture. Through the article, the sexual frustrations of the main characters in the story are brought out clearly. Through the characterization of Oscar, the plight of immigrant families is demonstrated. Additionally, the article forms a good basis for understanding the challenges facing the survival of immigrants in new lands especially English-speaking nations.

Burcar, Lilijana. "High heels as a disciplinary practice of femininity in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street." Journal of Gender Studies (2018): 1-10. This article through a rather uncommon design investigate the status of female parties in the family. Additionally, it explores how high heeled shoes can play a part in bringing out the worth of a woman in the society especially a capitalist one like where Esperanza finds herself. According to the author of this paper, the high heels are used to demonstrate how fragile and weak women are as well as exemplifying the thinness of their bodies. More significantly, women are sexually objectified in a society that claims to confer equal rights on women and men. Therefore, “The House on Mango Street” serves as a practical example of how women are demeaned in the society. 

Ariyanti, Ariyanti. "Moral Values Reflected in “The House on Mango Street” Novel Written by Sandra Cisneros." EFL Journal 1.1 (2016): 25-48. This piece of literature helps bring out the perspective that literature can play a bigger role rather than educating. Literature has the potential among other functions to actively expose the immoral acts perpetrated against feminine members of the society. Additionally, moral values such as honesty, faithfulness, justice, truthfulness, happiness, and respect for every member of the larger society. The researcher attempts to bring out these concepts by studying and investigating the text contained in “The House on Mango Street”.

McCormack, Bede. "Using Literature to Teach Culture." The TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching (2018): 1-6. Some cultural aspects are well brought about in literature texts through the characterization of the aspects of culture. Traditionally, language was used in translating texts for grammar purposes. But through this article, the author has deplored the use of language in expressing culture and cultural practices of various people. Therefore, this article has effectively and carefully analyzed and brought out the cultural practices Esperanza’s society. It further gives practical examples of what the effects and positive impacts that some cultural practices can cause on the members of the society. It has additionally implored and explored the beliefs and worldviews from the perspective of the characters.

Sultana, Rajia. "The House on Mango Street: Searching for Identity." (2016). Poetry and literature in overall plays a big part and role in educating the public by studying the character of Esperenza who desires to establish her identity as a woman and an artist. She tries to make herself believe that she can make a great poet and writer. Esperenza also desires to walk out of the roles the society has imposed on her and thus establish her identity as a female respected by all. Therefore, this text exposes the perceptions this society have conferred upon women and females at large. It also sufficiently implores into the self-respect search that Esperenza is involved in. the text reveals that social conditioning has a part to play in confining the woman to roles she performs in the society. Apart from sexuality, the text reveals another important aspect of language. For instance, the society Esperenza finds herself in, respects English so much that other native languages are looked down upon. As a female author, Esperenza tries as much as possible observe and deconstruct the negative perceptions.

The Theme of Sexuality versus Self-Determination

The main character in “The House on Mango Street”, Esperanza clearly wants to escape from neighborhood that does not recognize and respect the input of women. She is overwhelmingly ambitious that she will one day come out of this place. From Esperanza’s point of view, women are not given the chance to exploit their full potential. The contribution to the community is immense and considerable due to the disrespect the society has on women. Esperanza observes that women in her locality are bound by marriages that are abusive. In that regard, she gets discouraged if she can really achieve her ambitions with the limiting society like this. The women trapped in their marriages that they cannot get out of Mango Street because they have children to tend (McCormack p. 1-6).

The main character in this story decides that she cannot be like other women in her neighborhood because she has an ambition to achieve. Despite the observation she makes of the difficulties married women face, she is still attracted sexually to boys in the neighborhood. Putting this into perspective, women are not considered as useful members of this society, their input is not valued at all. However, if this society recognizes and acknowledges that females have the ability to transform the community through their input, until then such a society will remain backward. Esperanza sets a good example and thus a role model to young women that they can still emerge victorious in the struggle to attain autonomy. Esperanza therefore embarks on combining sexuality with autonomy hence being cruel but beautiful at the same time. She takes her decisions by observing women in movies and films. Additionally, she comes into realization that being beautiful and cruel does not do anything in improving her conditions especially in the male dominated community she finds herself (Fredriksson p.36).

Esperanza faces numerous cases of sexual assault from male counterparts who believe that women are sexual toys to be played about with as they please. As a woman, Esperanza has to remain in control of every action that is directed towards her. Additionally, assault should not be taken negatively but be used as a motivator to rise above all odds to defeat it. More importantly, the assault should open the mind of the victim to understand that forming relationship with the assaulters does not dispel victimization. Much time should be spent on doing constructive work rather than spending the time on boys. Further, autonomy provides the best way to escape from sexual abuse and assault as compared to protests (Holt vol. 1).

The story is set in a Latino setting that does not recognize and acknowledge women as important members of the society. Throughout the story, the main character who is a woman has to consistently strive to establish her identity despite being a Latino. Women in general have to fight with the thoughts of isolation and shame of living a low life. However, the struggle against all the prejudices should lead the victim to a dream of having his or her own wealth. In short autonomy is the beginning towards financial stability and respect from the larger community. Women are also talented in a wide perspective and as such deserve an equal opportunity to explore their potential. Besides sexual prejudice, the women suffer among other problems the language barrier (Sun p. 588-596).

The English language is given first priority in Esperanza’s society whereby those unable to speak in English are segregated and cast from the rest. For instance, Mamacita living across the street is unable to learn and speak in English and therefore out of shame, she decides to remain indoors. She has no friends visiting her hence leading a miserable and lonely life. Apart from Mamacita, other women neighbors are also disrespected by their husbands who lock them in the apartment whenever they go out. Rafaela is the woman who is locked up in the house by her husband at any time he goes out. These women are just a few examples of the numerous atrocities inflicted on women. Abuse on the female members of the society by people who should take care of them like their parents and close relatives (Burcar p. 1-10).

Sandra Cisneros the author of “The House on Mango Street”, clearly speaks extensively of the issues revolving around sexism, racism, and poverty to continue to affect the minority groups. The author writes extensively on the discrimination that individuals face because of their sex and gender especially the Mexican-American women in their pursuit to success (Udumukwu p. 253).

Cisneros, being born in Chicago in 1954 as the only daughter in a family of six sons spent a better part of her childhood cramped in apartments much too small for her large family, making feel often alone. The brothers paired themselves together thus letting her to be alone in her corner as the odd-one out. In essence, Cisneros suffered great psychological stress as well as emotional stress. Besides, the Cisneros family had to move around and about between back and forth between Chicago and Mexico City, where her father’s family resided. She therefore never found herself in a single place or locality to establish lasting true friendship. Understanding that friends play a big role in improving the well-being of an individual as far as relationship and interactions are concerned. Cisneros never got that rare opportunity to interact with children of her age thus bond (McCormack p. 1-6).

However, to dispel loneliness, Cisneros found refuge in reading books and materials of literature. Cisneros made books her best friend, deeply burying herself in them to dispel the thoughts of loneliness. From reading lots of literature material and books, Cisneros began to compose stories in her head, forming narratives out of the daily events of her life. Fortunately for Cisneros, her mother, a Chicana (Mexican-American), supported her desire to read. To give her daughter the opportunities she herself was denied, Cisneros’ mother freed her from the traditional domestic duties of a Chicana female. She excused Cisneros from cooking, cleaning, and babysitting so Cisneros could study and read (Burcar p. 1-10).

A brief life history of Cisneros

Growing up in a family full of men and in the barrios, Cisneros was well aware of the patriarchal structure of the Chicano society, which denied women equality at every level. As a teen she determined to fight this machismo (the Latin American term for male chauvinism) and to move from the ranks of the powerless to the powerful. Certainly her mother’s emphasis on education helped Cisneros in this quest. But it was through writing that she felt most able to help herself and other women.

In grade school Cisneros began recording her stories in a spiral notebook that she never showed to anyone. In high school, however, she was known among her classmates as a poet and was the editor of her school’s literary magazine. In her junior year at Loyola University of Chicago, where she received a B.A. in English, she took her first creative writing class (McCormack p. 1-6).

It wasn’t until Cisneros attended the Writers Workshop in Iowa, however, that she found her true voice as a writer. There, she says, “For the first time in my life I felt ‘other’.” After thinking about what it was that made her different from her classmates, she realized that her impoverished childhood and the characters that populated her past were worthy of writing about because they were different from the mainstream, different from the “norm” that radiated from television sets across the nation (Mitchell, Miller & Colin vol.16).

The other quality that makes this book so appealing is its pervading sense of optimism. Though many of the stories she tells are painful and sad, Cisneros never writes them with a sense of despair. Instead her characters display a determination to persevere, to reach, and to dream of a better life.
Cisneros's optimism is evident in her own varied career that has included such roles as counselor to high school dropouts, recruitment agent at Loyola University, and teacher of poetry in public schools. She started the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation to reward emerging Texan writers, and the Macondo Foundation to unite writers in fighting for social change. And, if that isn't enough evidence of her rosy outlook on life, consider the fact that she lives in a bright pink house, because, she says, "the colors make me happy" (Burcar p. 1-10).

Esperanza Cordero is one of the most likable characters you'll ever meet. She's smart, she's funny, she's lonely, and charmingly awkward – she's just like you. OK, so maybe you didn't grow up in an urban barrio in Chicago. But who hasn't ever felt ashamed about some part of their identity, whether it's the amount of money their family has, the house they live in, or just being different from the other kids at school? Ever felt embarrassed about wearing the wrong shoes to a party? Meet Esperanza – we think you've got a lot in common (McCormack p. 1-6).
Conclusion

Our point is that, on nearly every page of The House on Mango Street, you'll probably find something that will make you cringe. Or laugh out loud. Or whimper in empathy. It's that kind of book. It's almost impossible not to relate to the sassy, spunky heroine – a budding writer who survives the pain and humiliation of puberty by writing angst, heartfelt poetry.
Esperanza is the kind of character that draws attention to the universal experience of being human, and especially to the particularly awkward time of life that we call puberty. Reading her story helps us to feel more connected with the people around us, because it reminds us that even though we've all had painful or embarrassing experiences, we all have the potential to overcome them. And that's kind of awesome.

The struggle for self-definition is a common theme in a coming-of-age novel, or bildungsroman, and in The House on Mango Street, Esperanza’s struggle to define herself underscores her every action and encounter. Esperanza must define herself both as a woman and as an artist, and her perception of her identity changes over the course of the novel. In the beginning of the novel Esperanza wants to change her name so that she can define herself on her own terms, instead of accepting a name that expresses her family heritage. She wants to separate herself from her parents and her younger sister in order to create her own life, and changing her name seems to her an important step in that direction. Later, after she becomes more sexually aware, Esperanza would like to be “beautiful and cruel” so men will like her but not hurt her, and she pursues that goal by becoming friends with Sally. After she is assaulted, she doesn’t want to define herself as “beautiful and cruel” anymore, and she is, once again, unsure of who she is.

Works Cited

Ariyanti, Ariyanti. "Moral Values Reflected in “The House on Mango Street” Novel Written by   Sandra Cisneros." EFL Journal 1.1 (2016): 25-48.

Burcar, Lilijana. "High heels as a disciplinary practice of femininity in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street." Journal of Gender Studies (2018): 1-10.

Fredriksson, Ivy. "The Hidden Value of House and Home: An analysis of the social and physical setting in The House on Mango Street." (2016).

Holt, Lindsey C. "Reconciling Change, Assimilation, and Tradition in Multicultural Literature." 2015 NCUR (2015).

McCormack, Bede. "Using Literature to Teach Culture." The TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching (2018): 1-6.

Mitchell, Laura A., Diane M. Miller, and Colin Dalton. "Finding Latino/a Voices in the Storytelling Process: Preservice Teachers Tell Their Stories in Digital         Narratives." Journal of Family Strengths 16.1 (2016): 7.

Sultana, Rajia. "The House on Mango Street: Searching for Identity." (2016).

Sun, Xiaoxue Wendy. "To Go in Order to Come Back: A Comparative Analysis of Wooden Fish Songs and The House on Mango Street." International Journal of Humanities and Cultural Studies (IJHCS)​ ISSN 2356-5926 2.1 (2016): 588-596.

Taylor, Brianna E. "“The Only Way Out Is In”: Negotiating Identity through Narrative in “The House on Mango Street and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao." (2017).

Udumukwu, Onyemaechi. "10. From Wonder to Resonance: Space, Identity and Feminism in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street." Compass-Comparative Literature in Africa 4 (2016): 253.

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