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Sandra Cisneros Cisneros, Sandra (Short Story Criticism) - Essay

‘The House On Mango Street’ by Sandra Cisneros Essay Sample

❶But the house on Mango Street it's not the way they told it at all. Or, that could be read in a series to tell one big story.


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She observed that with "the metaphor of a house—a house, a house, it hit me. What did I know except third-floor flats. Surely my classmates knew nothing about that. That's precisely what I chose to write: Troubled by their problems and haunted by conflicts related to her own upbringing, she began writing seriously as a form of release. Noted for their powerful dialogue, vivid characterizations, and well-crafted prose, Cisneros's short story collections are unique in that they incorporate several genres.

Of her short fiction, Cisneros has written: Or, that could be read in a series to tell one big story. I wanted stories like poems, compact and lyrical and ending with a reverberation. The House on Mango Street features the semi-autobiographical character of Esperanza, a poor, Hispanic adolescent who, humiliated by her family's poverty and dissatisfied with the repressive gender values of her culture, longs for a room of her own and a house of which she can be proud.

Esperanza ponders the disadvantages of choosing marriage over education, the importance of writing as an emotional release, and the sense of confusion associated with growing up.

Ranging from a few paragraphs to several pages, the stories in this volume contain the interior monologues of individuals who have been assimilated into American culture despite their sense of loyalty to Mexico.

In "Never Marry a Mexican," for example, a young Hispanic woman begins to feel contempt for her white lover because of her emerging feelings of inadequacy and cultural guilt resulting from her inability to speak Spanish. Critics praise Cisneros's ability to explore conflicts directly related to her upbringing, including divided loyalties, feelings of alienation, and degradation resulting from poverty.

Although she addresses important contemporary issues associated with minority status throughout her two collections, critics have described her characters as idiosyncratic, accessible individuals capable of generating compassion on a universal level. Commentators laud her lyrical narratives, vivid dialogue, and powerful descriptions, applauding her poetic depictions of life as a Chicana woman, as well as her deft treatment of such controversial themes as sexism, racism, and poverty.

She is able to see both worlds and, more importantly, understands how the pain of both worlds is merely a manifestation of the same disease—a failure of love. We drag these bodies around with us, these bodies that have nothing at all to do with you, with me, with who we really are, these bodies that give us pleasure and pain. Though I've learned how to abandon mine at will, it seems to me we never free ourselves completely until we love, until we lose ourselves inside each other.

Then we see a little of what is called heaven. And we can forgive, finally. When a writer claims to identify with a character to the extent that she wakes up unsure who is who, one can assume that that character is going to speak deeply and come as close to the truth as fiction can come to the truth of the human heart. She takes the deepest pain inside herself and through it claims the power of her own identity. Ingesting the pain of her world by facing it head-on gives her strength and the will to persevere: Cisneros believes women must overcome and change their worlds from the inside out.

They must become the "authors" of their own fate. She sees the small boy inside Zapata, the boy thrust unprepared into leadership and war; she sees the bodies of the federale corpses hanging in the trees, drying like leather, dangling like earrings; she sees her father, who once turned his back on her, placed with his back against the wall, ready for the firing squad. What particularly defines this story is the acceptance of masculine suffering as well as feminine. All clinging to the tail of the horse of our jefe Zapata.

All of us scarred from these nine years of aguantando —enduring" original italics. The image of every widow, male or female, clinging to the horse's tail doesn't absolve men from blame for beginning and continuing this war, but at the same time it doesn't exclude them from suffering. The union of gender, and gender-based ideologies, is essential to the strong, feminine characters of the later stories of Woman Hollering Creek, because for Cisneros it is necessary to include masculine suffering to achieve a total synthesis.

Each of the earlier pieces is independent of the others, yet as whole sections they define specific areas of adversity—specifically feminine adversity. The "Lucy Friend" story sets up the paradigm of the Cisneros's female world:. There ain't no boys here. Only girls and one father who is never home hardly and one mother who says Ay!

I'm real tired and so many sisters there's no time to count them. I think it would be fun to sleep with sisters you could yell at one at a time or all together, instead of alone on the fold out chair in the living room. This is a world without men, where the fathers are drunk or absent, the mothers are left to raise the children alone and the only possible salvation is a sisterhood that more often than not fails. The stories continue in this vein, establishing aspects of an archetypal Chicana female identity.

From her young girl's voice, Cisneros satirizes the portrayals of Mexicans in film by contrasting a Chicana family's daily life with the films of Pedro Infante his name itself denotes a childlike, false identity who "always sings riding a horse and wears a big sombrero and never tears the dresses off the ladies, and the ladies throw flowers from balconies and usually somebody dies, but not Pedro Infante because he has to sing the happy song at the end.

The Lights go on. Somebody picks us up. For her insightful social critique and powerful prose style, Cisneros has achieved recognition far beyond Chicano and Latino communities, to the extent that The House on Mango Street has been translated worldwide and is taught in American classrooms as a coming-of-age novel. Cisneros has held a variety of professional positions, working as a teacher, a counselor, a college recruiter, a poet-in-the-schools, and an arts administrator, and has maintained a strong commitment to community and literary causes.

In she established the Macondo Writers Workshop , which provides socially conscious workshops for writers, and in she founded the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation, which awards talented writers connected to Texas.

Cisneros was born in Chicago , Illinois on December 20, , the third of seven children. The only surviving daughter, she considered herself the "odd number in a set of men". Cisneros's great-grandfather had played the piano for the Mexican president and was from a wealthy background, but he gambled away his family's fortune.

However, after failing classes due to what Cisneros called his "lack of interest" in studying, Alfredo ran away to the United States to escape his father's anger. After getting married, the pair settled in one of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods. Cisneros's biographer Robin Ganz writes that she acknowledges her mother's family name came from a very humble background, tracing its roots back to Guanajuato , Mexico, while her father's was much more "admirable".

Taking work as an upholsterer to support his family, Cisneros's father began "a compulsive circular migration between Chicago and Mexico City that became the dominating pattern of Cisneros's childhood.

Eventually the instability caused Cisneros's six brothers to pair off in twos, leaving her to define herself as the isolated one.

Her feelings of exclusion from the family were exacerbated by her father, who referred to his "seis hijos y una hija" "six sons and one daughter" rather than his "siete hijos" "seven children". Ganz notes that Cisneros's childhood loneliness was instrumental in shaping her later passion for writing. Cisneros's one strong female influence was her mother, Elvira, who was a voracious reader and more enlightened and socially conscious than her father. Her family made a down payment on their own home in Humboldt Park , a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood on Chicago's West Side when she was eleven years old.

Here she found an ally in a high-school teacher who helped her to write poems about the Vietnam War. Although Cisneros had written her first poem around the age of ten, with her teacher's encouragement she became known for her writing throughout her high-school years. After that it took a while to find her own voice. She explains, "I rejected what was at hand and emulated the voices of the poets I admired in books: Cisneros was awarded a bachelor of arts degree from Loyola University Chicago in , and received a master of fine arts degree from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in It was while attending the Workshop that Cisneros discovered how the particular social position she occupied gave her writing a unique potential.

She recalls being suddenly struck by the differences between her and her classmates: I knew I was a Mexican woman. But I didn't think it had anything to do with why I felt so much imbalance in my life, whereas it had everything to do with it! My race, my gender, and my class!

And it didn't make sense until that moment, sitting in that seminar. That's when I decided I would write about something my classmates couldn't write about. From then on, she would write of her "neighbors, the people [she] saw, the poverty that the women had gone through. So to me it began there, and that's when I intentionally started writing about all the things in my culture that were different from them—the poems that are these city voices—the first part of Wicked Wicked Ways —and the stories in House on Mango Street.

I think it's ironic that at the moment when I was practically leaving an institution of learning, I began realizing in which ways institutions had failed me. Drawing on Mexican and Southwestern popular culture and conversations in the city streets, Cisneros wrote to convey the lives of people she identified with.

Prior to this job, she worked in the Chicano barrio in Chicago, teaching high school dropouts at Latino Youth High School. Through these jobs, she gained more experience with the problems of young Latino Americans. In addition to being an author and poet, Cisneros has held various academic and teaching positions. The publication of The House on Mango Street secured her a succession of writer-in-residence posts at universities in the United States, [15] teaching creative writing at institutions such as the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Michigan.

Cisneros has also worked as a college recruiter and an arts administrator. Cisneros currently resides in San Miguel de Allende, a city in central Mexico, but for years she lived and wrote in San Antonio, Texas, in her briefly controversial [17] "Mexican-pink" home with "many creatures little and large.

My writing is my child and I don't want anything to come between us. The New Mestiza , Cisneros wrote: So that the relatives and family would allow me the liberty to disappear into myself.

To reinvent myself if I had to. As Latinas, we have to Because writing is like putting your head underwater. Cisneros's writing is often influenced by her personal experiences and by observations of many of the people in her community.

She once confided to other writers at a conference in Santa Fe that she writes down "snippets of dialogue or monologue—records of conversations she hears wherever she goes. Names for her characters often come from the San Antonio phone book; "she leafs through the listings for a last name, then repeats the process for a first name. Cisneros once found herself so immersed in the characters of her book Woman Hollering Creek that they began to infiltrate her subconscious mind.

Once while she was writing the story "Eyes of Zapata," she awoke "in the middle of the night, convinced for the moment that she was Ines, the young bride of the Mexican revolutionary.

Her dream conversation with Zapata then became those characters' dialogue in her story. Her biculturalism and bilingualism are also very important aspects of her writing. Cisneros was quoted by Robin Ganz as saying that she is grateful to have "twice as many words to pick from Cisneros has been instrumental in building a strong community in San Antonio among other artists and writers through her work with the Macondo Foundation and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation.

The Residency Program provides writers with a furnished room and office in the Casa Azul, a blue house across the street from where Cisneros lives in San Antonio, which is also the headquarters of the Macondo Foundation.

Cisneros founded the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation in Literary critic Claudia Sadowski-Smith has called Cisneros "perhaps the most famous Chicana writer", [29] and Cisneros has been acknowledged as a pioneer in her literary field as the first female Mexican-American writer to have her work published by a mainstream publisher. As Ganz observes, previously only male Chicano authors had successfully made the crossover from smaller publishers.

Cisneros spoke of her success and what it meant for Chicana literature in an interview on National Public Radio on 19 September I think I can't be happy if I'm the only one that's getting published by Random House when I know there are such magnificent writers — both Latinos and Latinas, both Chicanos and Chicanas — in the U.

And, you know, if my success means that other presses will take a second look at these writers As a pioneer Chicana author, Cisneros filled a void by bringing to the fore a genre that had previously been at the margins of mainstream literature.

Cisneros often incorporates Spanish into her English writing, substituting Spanish words for English ones where she feels that Spanish better conveys the meaning or improves the rhythm of the passage. Such a funny name for such a lovely arroyo.

But that's what they called the creek that ran behind the house. She enjoys manipulating the two languages, creating new expressions in English by literally translating Spanish phrases. Cisneros noted on this process: As she discovered, after writing The House on Mango Street primarily in English, "the syntax, the sensibility, the diminutives, the way of looking at inanimate objects" were all characteristic of Spanish.

Cisneros's fiction comes in various forms—as novels, poems, and short stories—by which she challenges both social conventions, with her "celebratory breaking of sexual taboos and trespassing across the restrictions that limit the lives and experiences of Chicanas", and literary ones, with her "bold experimentation with literary voice and her development of a hybrid form that weaves poetry into prose".

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” Says Sandra Cisneros. As a young child, Cisneros enjoyed reading many books. One of them was The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton which is one of the reasons a home is important to her. Free Essay: Final Essay & Presentation ‘Eleven’ by Sandra Cisneros and ‘Mud’ by Maria Irene Fornes Thesis Date words Temidayo Ajayi University name.

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‘The House On Mango Street’ by Sandra Cisneros Essay Sample. Sandra Cisneros has spent a lifetime trying to discover her own literary voice, only to be drowned out by the mostly white and mostly white voices that she imitated but never identified with. Bobbi Locklear 09/05/13 Explication Essay An Explication of Cisneros’s “Woman Hollering Creek” In Sandra Cisneros’s short story “Woman’s Hollering Creek,” the main character is a young Mexican girl; who is experiencing, for the .