The House on Mango Street Summary

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros


The novella The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros features a series of short chapters told from the first-person point of view of Esperanza, a young teenage girl. She moves to the house on Mango Street in Chicago with her family, but she doesn't like it. The house is run-down and small in a poor neighborhood. Esperanza tracks her experiences over a year of living in that house. Not an attractive girl, Esperanza never receives the attention from men that some of her friends receive. She describes time spent with her sister, Nenny, such as when they paraded around the neighborhood in high heels one day with their friends Rachel and Lucy. She also follows the lives of many of the neighbors who live around her. She highlights significant or telling moments in their lives, mostly moments that show their the difficulties that they experience, such as when Louie's cousin was arrested for stealing a car or when Esperanza's Aunt Lupe dies.


She tells about a neighbor Marin, who is a young mother trying to raise her children. Marin dates a man named Geraldo who winds up dead the same night. Esperanza describes Sally, a girl from school, whose father physically abuses her, so she ends up marrying an older man and moving away. Several times in the story Esperanza describes situations where abuse occurs. For example, she gets a job at a photo shop, and a fellow employee kisses her on the mouth her first day. Then one day she was supposed to meet Sally at the carnival, but she didn't show up and instead an old man sexually assaulted Esperanza.


Esperanza points out people who are disappointed with the way their lives turned out, such as her mother who dropped out of school because she was ashamed of her wardrobe. Esperanza longs to own her own home, a spacious place where she could let other people stay with her. She meets some fortune-telling women who promise her that her dream will someday come true. They remind her, however, that she should not turn her back on Mango Street. She should return to help those people who are unable to help themselves get out. By the end of the story, after a year of living on Mango Street, she realizes that she will escape someday, but she will also return. If she doesn't help make things better, who will.




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