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The House On Mango Street

Theme of Independence

Compiled by Amy Peterson

My sub-topic is independence.  I believe that this topic discusses how Esperanza grew throughout the book and how she came more independent as she grew.   She became more independent by living through and observing several different situations in her neighborhood.  Such as watching Sally go very far with boys, observing Alicia being beaten by her father or even being raped herself.  Esperanza fought to become more independent although independence was not a trait often portrayed in the female role models that surrounded her.

Sandra Cisneros made independence a very important part of Esperanza's personality.  Without making Esperanza independent, it would have been a dull book about a lonely Spanish girl growing into a depressed housewife.  By making the reader see Mango Street through Esperanza's eyes, Cisneros is constantly making them realize, through the portrayal of women without independence, that these weak women will become someone nobody cared about and somebody no one will remember.

In conclusion, I believe that the need for independence in order to survive was a moral Sandra Cisneros wove into her novel.  Esperanza's independence and the slow acceptance of it were also an important element to the plot and the identity of the main character.


Predictions About Esperanza

Compiled by Amy Peterson

Going Back

by Amy Peterson

" Hello, Kitty. Hello." I cooed to my small cat, Rue, as it hurried to the front door to greet me home from a long day at work. I patted her fur covered head before picked her up. Slowly I made my way into the small living room off the foyer. Inhaling the scented roses that sat in a vase on my coffee table brought a smile to my face.

I looked over the pale yellow walls, the green rug, and my floral couch that sat in the middle of this comfortable room. My legs instantly gave out as I collapsed into the large recliner next to the couch. Rue meowed quietly before settling into my lap. Glancing over the mail in my hand I noticed a small envelope addressed to Esperanza Gomez in delicate handwriting. Slowly opening it, I pulled out an floral card scented with my mother’s perfume.. Puzzled I opened the note and quickly read that my mother was requesting me to come home for a visit. .

I inhaled deeply with a knot in my stomach. I hadn’t been home to Mango Street for a visit in almost 20 years. Over the years I had kept in touch with my mother occasionally meeting her for lunch in the large city just outside of my childhood neighborhood when my hectic schedule allowed it. I shifted in my seat as I noticed the handwritten note inscribed on the inside cover to the card.

Dear Esperanza,

I know that you have been very busy these past few years, but I would be forever grateful if you came home this year . Your sister and brother wish dearly to see you. Even Lucy Miller stopped by the other day asking how you were. Please, if you can, please come and see us.


I hated when left notes like this in my mail or messages on my machine. I loved my mother dearly and enjoyed her company whenever she came out to visit. The thought of coming home was an option that I had refused to acknowledge for many years. Placing Rue on the floor, I quickly grabbed the phone and dialed my sister Nenny’s phone number. She would be able to break the news best of why I couldn’t come home this year.

" Hello?" I heard a deep male’s voice on the other line. I immediately recognized Paul, my brother-in-law.

" Hello Paul, is my sister there? It’s Esperanza." I said slowly. My ears could hear Paul hand over the phone to Nenny without saying a word. Nenny blew her nose before greeting me in a forced tone that I recognized instantly.

" Hello, Esperanza. How are things in Arizona?" Her voice was shaky and she was barely able to finish her sentence.

" What is the matter?" I immediately asked. Then I could hear the sobs and Paul’s comforting words on the other end. My mind raced with a million possibilities of things that could have happened.

" Daddy…..Daddy….Daddy’s dead." Nenny managed to get out. I stood there in silence. My mind went numb and all I could hear was Rue’s purring as she rubbed up against my legs.

I searched around the airport for my sister as soon as I stepped off the plane. I hadn’t hesitated a moment as soon as I found out that my father had died from a heart attack and my mother wasn’t doing well. Rue complained as I swung her travel case around as I searched for my sister. Finally, a striking woman approached me. Her jet black hair danced in ringlets around her heart shaped and her deep brown eyes looked tired. Her painted lips were formed in a frown and she looked severely unhappy. It took me a moment to recognize my baby sister.

" Esperanza." She whispered my name as she hugged me. Her hug was light almost as if she was afraid I would break if she squeezed to hard. I stepped back and looked at her. She looked like our mother so much that it was almost painful to look at her. She took my bag from me and I held onto Rue’s travel case as we traveled through the large crowd of people.

The ride home was mostly silent except Nenny filling me in on how her children were doing in school and how Paul had gotten a promotion in the computer corporation he worked for. I forced a smile on my face, but looked at her made me so sad. She looked so tired and exhausted from taking care of my mother.

The house on Mango Street was different in appearance but the atmosphere was the same. The red shutters were now pink and the dead front lawn now lavished with green sprouts of grass. The broken sidewalk leading to the front door had been repave and my mother’s brand-new Jeep sat in the new driveway. Flowers sprouted up and smiled at me as I walked down the pathway.

My mother’s house was not the only house that had changed since I had last been here. The entire neighborhood had been transformed into suburbia. New families had come in and the most of the my childhood friends had moved away from home. I looked over the house with admiration and disappointment. It seemed almost wrong for my mother to change the house had grown up in. Of course, I would never wish her to live in the types of conditions we had when my father’s gift shop business had done incredibly well and a new, better life could be afforded.

My little mother stood in the doorway of her cute face. Her figure was now thinner and her eyes had dark circles under them. Her black hair had faded to gray, but her face still carried the same strong beauty it had when I was a child. She still wore her hair in curled ringlets framing her face and the genuine smile on her face was as much of a breath taking scene as it had been when I was child.

I wrapped my mother into a hug that was long over due. Her laughter rang in my ears as she kissed me upon my cheek and urged my sister and I into the house. Pictures of us and our brothers covered the living room walls. The carpet was bleach white and the walls were a pale blue that reminded me of my father’s eyes. I took the seat in the dark blue recliner next to the fire place my father had constructed some years back. My mother sat across from me in a matching recliner and my sister took a seat on the blue plaid sofa.

" It’s been a long time since you have been home." My mother’s small voice filled the silence and a sigh of relief came over me.

" Yes, it has. Too long." I replied in an equally small voice. Not a single soul I even encounter in my life could intimidate me as much as the thought of my mother being disappointed in me could.

" Has Nenny told you that her little Sharon and Margo are doing very well in school? Their smart just like their mother." My own mother looked at Nenny with a pride in her eyes that instantly sparked a jealousy deep inside of me. I looked at my shoes and then remember that this was my mother and she had never approved of my choices in life. I was not married and no children, therefore my life had accounted for nothing as far as she was concerned.

" Yes she did, Did I send you a copy of my article of my interview with the president?" I asked silently challenging my sister to a competition of winning my mother’s approval as if we were children all over again.

" Yes, I believe Daddy…your father read me some of it when you sent it to us last month. " My mother gestured towards a stack of books in the corner of the room with little interest. I bit my tongue at wanting to snap at her for caring so little about my life. I was not here to win the approval of my mother, just to pay my respects to my father.

Little was said between my mother and I for the three days before the funeral. Nenny came over every day to make sure she ate and the day before the services helped my mother prepare the food for the reception. I tried helping, but all that did was once again prove to my mother that my talent did not lie in the kitchen.

Spending time with my family was becoming harder and harder as I was reminded how different I had always been from the rest of them. My nieces were delighted with my stories of meeting the president and other celebrities over the years of my career as a journalist. Margo even declared during dinner that she wanted to be just like " Auntie E" and the familiar coldness appeared in my mother’s eyes.. The same coldness that had appeared when I had declared that I was moving away from home to go to college.

My family hadn’t always been like this, my mother wasn’t always so unsupportive. It had begun with me wanting to be away from home for college , a first in the history of my family. Then my brothers had run away to join the Marines. Only one returned home, the other had been killed in the Mid-East during an operation. Then Nenny went to college and met Paul. Soon after they were married he moved her halfway across the country to Illinois to be near his own family. My remaining brother retired from the Marines and soon joined the F.B.I, he now lives in Washington D.C.

All of us had left home, while my mother had lived near her family her entire life. She wasn’t able to cope with us being away from home. Soon we began to come back. Nenny moved a half hour away from our childhood neighborhood and my brother lives close enough he comes to visit every other weekend. It was only I who’s life path hadn’t brought her back home to my mother. She resent me for it, almost as if I purposely stayed away from home because I didn’t want to be there. That’s wasn’t the case at all.

After getting my doctorate in journalism, I got a job with the New York Post. Eventually I moved my way up the totem pole and got a permanent column of my very own. After awhile people began to notice me, my column, and now it was printed nation wide in every major newspaper in the country. I was forever running from here and there for new stories. I never got a break from my life, so a visit back home hadn’t been an option until now.

The funeral was a lovely service and my sister Nenny gave a wonderful memoir of my father and his life. Sadness comes to my mind every time I think of the looks on my family faces. I stayed for a day or two after the service, finally the day of my departure arrived.

Rue meowed as I again packed her in the travel case. I kissed her on the forehead before locking the door to the case. I sat in the chair and looked over pictures on the wall. I glanced over the pictures and noticed one thing. There wasn’t a single photograph where I had a smile on my face. Several were of my sister and brothers’ laughing faces. Even a few of my father and my mother. Very few of myself. I heard someone clear their throat and saw my mother standing in the doorway.

" Your father made this over the years. He wanted you to have it." She handed me a worn book. I thanked her as I took the heavy book from her and opened it. On the very first page was the article that had been my very first publication ever.

" He loved your work. We had subscription to twelve different newspapers just so he could read every article you got published. He was so proud of you Esperanza." My mother’s small voice became louder and stronger as she spoke.

" I never realized." I spoke with strong regret.

" He was proud of all his children, but you most of all. You were his dream come true." She spoke again. I felt tears form in my eyes.

" I always thought that he never approved of my decisions. I always regretted not getting married like Nenny or staying close to home." I was the one with the small voice this time.

" Not approve? Oh honey, you could never do anything wrong. Your father was so proud of you and…… I am still proud of you." My mother paused before concluding her sentence. I looked up with a surprised look on my face.

" Don’t look so shocked Esperanza’. How could a mother not be proud of anything her child accomplished?" She laughed some as she wiped the tears away from my cheek.

" I always thought that you were disappointed because I never married like Nenny and gave you grandchildren." I admitted.

" Disappointed? Never. You and Nenny were as different as night and day when you were children, so how can I expect you to be the same as adults? I’m proud of my children, all of them." My mother wrapped me in a hug and sighed with relief. Coming home was the best thing I could have ever done.


by Jeremy Grey

The car came to a stop at the curb. The house was small and red with tight steps in front and windows so small you’d think they were holding their breath. Her eyes began to see things the way they seemed when she was young. Esperanza took a deep breath and opened the car door.

She climbed the steps and knocked on the door. An old voice answered, and gave permission for her to enter. Esperanza opened the door and light poured into a dark room. The rays caught every piece of dust floating in the air, and gave her an eerie feeling. She could see the figure in the kitchen, the short woman with her hair pinned up in pincurls, a style that had not changed in twenty years.

Esperanza said hello to her mother and gave her a kiss on cheek. The reunion took place amongst piles of boxes and furniture stripped of their cushions. Everything was ready for the moving van, which would arrive in a matter of hours. They went to the kitchen to finish wrapping glasses in paper and packing silverware in boxes.

Her parents’ belongings were getting ready to be moved to a big new house, which Esperanza had recently purchased for them. Esperanza had become successful, after all, and decided to use her money to help her parents obtain their dream. Between her poetry, her book, teaching at Princeton, and a little investment in the Stock Market, Esperanza had come across a great sum of money. What better a way to spend it than this?

But something occurred to her as she put the knives in next to the spoons. Her parents had not been that unhappy living there all these years. It was rather Esperanza who wanted to get away from it. She had spent so much of her time thinking of getting away that she didn’t have time to see the big picture. And even now, as she looked around her, it wasn’t the house she did not like all those years ago. It was who she was, a red balloon tied to an anchor as she had said. The house was merely a symbol for that, something she could blame.

That day she took a good look at her childhood, the street which she had grown up on. She walked through the monkey garden (what was left of it after 20 years) and went to the junk store down the street, which had since become abandoned. And it was with great regret that Esperanza left that day, taking her last glimpse of the house on Mango Street and saying goodbye to the person she had been forever.

by Melissa Todd

Dear Momma,

How is everything going?  Can you believe I've been here a year now?  My job is going great, the people are really nice there.   I miss being home with you and near to the rest of the family, but I'm really happy where I am.  The land is so pretty here which makes for very nice pictures.  Did you happen to see my pictures in any of the magazines you get?  I've had quite a few published nationally and hope in a couple of months for them to go international.  I still have the feeling that I never would have gotten the job if I hadn't worked my entire teenage years in Peter Pan Photo Finishers.  I think that really exposed me to many of the skills I use now.

Carl and I have finally decided what month is best for our wedding, we decided to hold it next May.  I'll fill you in on the details when we decide on them.  I wrote to Carlos, Kiki and Nenny so that they would know ahead of time and start planning on how they were going to get up here.  I can't wait for you guys to meet him, he reminds me a lot of Papa.  I'm so sorry that Papa won't be there to see his daughter get married but I know that he will be watching down on me that day.

You will never believe who I saw at the market last week.  I met my old friend Rachel.  I haven't seen her in so many years and to run into her all the way up here was really strange.  She mentioned she was visiting her sister who has recently moved and was on her way back home.  I convinced her to come back to the house for lunch so we could talk for a while.  She couldn't stay very long because apparently her mother is sick, and she had to get home to her.   She had stopped at the market because she needed a rest from the long house on the road, and she figured she'd bring home some fresh food for her Mama.

Well, I sure hope everybody is doing fine.   I haven't heard from them in a while, but I guess they're just very busy these days.  If you see them, tell them I said hello and to write to me.  I love you.




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Last updated:  Sunday, March 18, 2001

1998 - Hill, Lara and her English 1 Honors Class