The House on Mango Street

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The House on Mango Street Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Sandra Cisneros
Sandra Cisneros was the only daughter in a family of six boys, and her family moved frequently between Chicago and Mexico City as her father took different jobs. Cisneros’s mother was her strongest positive female influence, as she encouraged Sandra to read and continue her education. Cisneros began writing poems at age ten, and she later attended Loyola College and then the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. At Iowa she began writing about her own unique experiences instead of trying to imitate the primarily white male voices of the traditional literary canon. Cisneros is best known for The House on Mango Street and Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. She has become a leading figure of the Chicano literary movement, and has taught at several high schools and colleges. She currently lives and writes in San Antonio, Texas.
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Historical Context of The House on Mango Street
Cisneros’s work has become a landmark for American minority women writers, and she is one of the most famous Chicana and Latina writers. The House on Mango Street is set in a barrio (primarily Latino neighborhood) of Chicago, and portrays both the poverty and the male-dominated culture of Cisneros’s own upbringing. Her work criticizes both the sexism of the Mexican-American barrio and the racism and classism (and sexism) of English-American culture, and has become an important part of the increasing dialogue surrounding these issues.
Other Books Related to The House on Mango Street
The House on Mango Street is part of the Chicano and Latino literary movement, which includes authors like Rudolfo Anaya, the author of Bless Me, Ultima. The House on Mango Street has also been compared to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, which also deals with women finding their own independent space (both literally and figuratively) in which to write.
Key Facts about The House on Mango Street
  • Full Title: The House on Mango Street
  • When Written: 1980-1984
  • Where Written: Chicago, Illinois
  • When Published: 1984
  • Literary Period: Contemporary Chicana literature
  • Genre: Short story sequence, bildungsroman
  • Setting: Chicago, Illinois
  • Climax: Esperanza’s rape
  • Antagonist: Abusive men, prejudice
  • Point of View: First person limited, from Esperanza’s point of view
Extra Credit for The House on Mango Street

A House of Her Own. Cisneros, like Esperanza, dreamed as a child of having her own house, and she was able to achieve this dream through her literary successes. But the house she now owns in San Antonio, Texas has caused some controversy because of its bright purple color, which Cisneros chose herself. Some people argue that the color doesn’t fit with its historical neighborhood, while others support it as a statement of Mexican culture and Cisneros’s own creativity.

Ideas. Cisneros has written that for some of the stories in The House on Mango Street – like “The Family of Little Feet” – she started with a title and then had to make a story for it, while the first line of “The Three Sisters” came to her in a dream.