How does Sandra Cisneros portray Esperanzas loneliness and aloneness in The House on Mango Street?
This story takes place in Chicago in the 1980s and is written by Sandra Cisneros in the book The House on Mango Street. The main character is a hispanic female named Esperanza growing up in a hispanic suburb on the Mango Street. Throughout the whole book the themes of loneliness and aloneness are dominating her thoughts and life. She has a really hard time to either find or/and make friends during her time there. The author provides the insights into her thinking and feeling through a series of vignettes. These are indeed deep dives and snapshots into her world. The author uses a variety of literary techniques such as imagery, internal dialogues and personification, to portray and emphasize the scale and depth of Esperanza’s feelings of loneliness during her childhood.
In the vignette, Boys ; Girls, we are experiencing the feeling of loneliness with Esperanza together. As we read the vignette, we come to the realization that there is a lot happening in the girl’s day to day life and that she might feel tied down by her family and all of the responsibilities she carries on her shoulders. Her internal dialogue goes as follows: “Someday I will have a best friend all my own. One I can tell my secrets to. One who will understand my jokes without my having to explain them. Until then I am a red balloon, a balloon tied to an anchor.”(Cisneros p.9) This vignette is indeed an excursion into Esperanza’s feelings with all the weight of her current life as well as the emptiness she has due to the lack of having somebody to talk to and discuss her emotions of sadness, worry and abondeness. She is burdened by her family duties, such as taking care of Nenny, who is too young to be her friend and on top of it she is her sister. All this is actually preventing her from feeling free, loved and understood by an equal partner. She tries to fill this void in her with reaching out to everyone she can find that will hangout with her and be her friend.
In the vignette Four Skinny Trees, the author uses a series of powerful phrases to explain the fact that the trees are actually Esperanza’s inspiration and encouragement to keep holding up. Whenever she feels lonely, sad, small or weak, Esperanza looks up to them: “They are the only ones who understand me. I am the only one who understands them.” (Cisneros p.74). She also gets from them a fresh dosage of stability and energy to keep straight and grow irrespective of the restrictions in her community. Despite many barriers and tough conditions, the trees remain to be well grounded and grow further towards the sky. As her internal dialogue reveals: “Their strength is secret. They send ferocious roots beneath the ground. They grow up and they grow down and grab the earth between their hairy toes and bite the sky with violent teeth and never quit their anger. This is how they keep keeping .”(Cisneros p.74). She is in fact identifying with these trees and makes them her friends, who really understand her, the ones who don’t judge her for her actions so harshly because they know what is going on with her. She also believe that these trees processing things smartly and know how to fight off their enemies so that they can keep strong and authentic.
Towards the end, all these internal dialogues and considerations result in Esperanza’s determination to fight for her own life. She wants to break the stereotypes that the society has created for women like her, she wants to become somebody even if the society’s expectations restrict her from doing so. It is the trees that through standing up for themselves also inspire Esperanza to do the same. Grow into the sky, while remain well rooted, connected the source of energy, love and friendship. Occasionally, the author decides to use violent verbs to further enhance our understanding about how Esperanza wants to shatter the stereotypes that her family and friends have created for her. She has questioned the society’s stereotypes since a small age and she wants to rebel against all of that: “I have begun my own quiet war. Simple. Sure. I am one who leaves the table like a man, without putting back a chair or picking up the plate.”(Cisneros p.89).
In conclusion, this book is a deep insight into the heart and soul of a hispanic female in the city of Chicago, who does not seem to have many chances in her life. However, through being observant and keeping a strong mind, she gradually moves forward and fights her status quo. The book is a journey of this lady dealing with her everyday life duties as well as with her personal aspirations and needs. She uses everything around her to progress with her thoughts and plan to make her future better that her today. She does not remain passive, quite contrary, she makes a decision to fight her loneliness and starts taking actions to move forward.
Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. Random House, 1984.