Guid Essay

Guid Essay

House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros: Reader’s Review – Free Essay Example

Assignment: Read both required texts and then complete the graphic organizer below. The questions require you to apply Foster’s concepts to analyze the novel House on Mango Street. Be prepared for a test on both books when you return.


How’d He Do That? How do memory, symbol, and pattern affect the reading of literature? How does the recognition of patterns make it easier to read complicated literature? Discuss a time when your appreciation of a literary work was enhanced by understanding symbol or pattern. (This one is general, and you do not need to use House on Mango Street).

Memory, symbol, and pattern allow for a deeper comprehension of the text beyond its surface and reinforces the reader to utilize the higher-order thinking skills such as compare/contrast, connecting to the real-world and recognizing themes. By recognizing patterns, the reader bypasses the complicated literature and can synthesize the main ideas and apply them. When reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, my understanding of it was enhanced through its symbolism that connected to the actions and personalities of its main characters. Through its symbols told a bigger story that defined its setting and society, which was the immorality that dominated America’s 1920’s through its superficiality of money, cars, gambling that brought no genuine satisfaction to its characters.

Chapter 1: Every Trip is a Quest.

Apply the ideas in this chapter to any novel you have read. Analyze the Quest of a character, being sure to discuss what the character learns through the quest. You may use House on Mango Street or any other novel.

In Coelho’s The Alchemist, it’s centered on one’s “personal quest”, where once achieved their life is complete. In Santiago’s case, it was thought to be literal treasure such as gold or money, but it turned out to be the wisdom he had carried along with him and through his peers, which brought him all of life’s lessons.

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Chapter 2: Nice to Eat with You: Acts of Communion

Apply the ideas of Chapter 2 to analyze a meal in House on Mango Street. Explain how Foster’s ideas help make the meal meaningful.

When Esperanza brings her rice sandwich to the canteen with the kids she envies, it was her wanting to be accepted in her school. When she does however, she is singled out by the nuns and is ashamed of her poverty. This event separated Esperanza from the American culture outside of Mango Street due to the inability for her mom to communicate more effectively in the English language to the nun.

Chapter 3: Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires

What are the essentials of the vampire story? Which character in House on Mango Street might be considered a vampire?

The essentials include an older figure that is corrupt, a young, innocent female whose youth is quickly taken away and ends in tragedy at the hands of the corrupt figure. The vampire of Mango Street may be the old man at Esperanza’s first job since he takes advantage of her vulnerability of being isolated from the others and tricks her into kissing him out of sympathy.

Chapter 4: Student choice:

Select a quotation or passage that you think expresses the central idea in this chapter of Foster’s book. Write it in this box and then apply it to the novel in the right hand column.

“…intertextuality, the ongoing interaction between poems or stories” (29). The common theme of one feeling as if they don’t belong or struggling to come to terms with their own self-identity is seen in The House on Mango Street and in Things Fall Apart. For example, Esperanza knows she will pursue a career outside of Mango Street just like Nwoye converted to Christianity, which were both seen as escapes from their fate in their respective environments. They both can’t seem to come to terms with what others expect out of them and face criticism from others when refusing to conform with the standards of their society, such as when Esperanza avoids maturing into her sexuality like Sally did or when Nwoye avoids developing the violent habits of his father, Owonkwo.

Chapter 5: Student choice:

Select a quotation or passage that you think expresses the central idea in this chapter of Foster’s book. Write it in this box and then apply it to the novel in the right hand column.

“There is a kind of authority lent by something being almost universally known, where one only has to utter certain lines and people nod their heads in recognition” (38). When Esperanza describes the women of Mango Street including her great-grandmother, Sally, and Mamacita, she alludes to them as hopeless prisoners to their own homes. They were all disadvantaged by factors of society that they may or may not have been able to overcome, such as Esperanza’s great-grandmother who allowed her hatred of her husband to hold her back from living her life. She even claims that Sally’s future was what everyone thought it would be like which was a life like the one she has always lived on Mango Street. The opportunity to lead a better life in order to return and better the lives of women like Esperanza’s peers is what drives Esperanza to write her experiences in a life of poverty.

Chapter 6: Student choice:

Select a quotation or passage that you think expresses the central idea in this chapter of Foster’s book. Write it in this box and then apply it to the novel in the right hand column.

“The story…becomes timeless and archetypal, speaking of the tensions and difficulties that exist always and everywhere…” (51) The struggle of Esperanza to come to terms with her sexuality when it is consistently imposed on her, such as when she is forcibly kissed by the old man or when she is sexually assaulted by a group of boys, is one of the conflicts that she must face. Along with her insecurity of her outward appearance when compared to girls like Sally, Esperanza is still trying to latch onto her childhood innocence when choosing to hang out with her more immature peers and to pursue a writing career to escape the abuse of women in her society. Common themes such as the ones listed above are inevitable when finding a place in society.

Chapter 7: Student choice:

Select a quotation or passage that you think expresses the central idea in this chapter of Foster’s book. Write it in this box and then apply it to the novel in the right hand column.

“Irony, in various guises, drives a great deal of fiction and poetry” (57). When discussing other neighborhoods outside of Mango Street, Esperanza describes her neighborhood as intimidating to “outsiders” that are of a different skin tone. But when it is her own folk going to the foreign neighborhood, they also display the same reaction and avoid any interaction with them. This irony reveals the prejudice of different races due to the level of segregation that may or may not have been planned.

Chapter 8: Student choice:

Select a quotation or passage that you think expresses the central idea in this chapter of Foster’s book. Write it in this box and then apply it to the novel in the right hand column.

“Myth is a body of story that matters” (60). When Esperanza encounters the three sisters, they foretell her fate as we see it in the last chapter; she escapes Mango Street and makes it her goal to come back and help the ones who cannot leave as easily. These three sisters resemble the three ancient Greek sisters who utilized thread instead of palms to foretell an infant’s future, which was usually at a wake where Esperanza encountered them.

Chapter 9: It’s More than Just Rain or Snow

Discuss the importance of two scenes involving weather in any novel or story you have read, or even a film you have seen. Do not simply state how it affects the plot, but what the depiction of the weather says to the reader about the scenes’ feeling and meaning.

In The Great Gatsby, the current weather plays a major role in the behavior of the characters and is often very stereotypical. For instance, when Gatsby and Daisy were set to finally reunite after years, the rain beforehand displayed Gatsby’s unusual nervousness and uncertainty to how she would react, which was very unlike the Gatsby that is hyped up at the beginning of the novel. When they finally realize that they never stopped loving each other, the sun soon came out and represented genuine hope and happiness, and a return of Gatsby’s signature self-confidence. The weather that falls and rises with the emotions of the characters tells the reader the mood of the novel and allows for an easier understanding of the meaning behind the actions of the characters.

Chapter 10 Student choice:

Select a quotation or passage that you think expresses the central idea in this chapter of Foster’s book. Write it in this box and then apply it to the novel in the right hand column.

“…plot is character in action; character is revealed and shaped by plot” (89). Throughout Esperanza’s time on Mango Street, she experiences a variety of friendships that in the end, she feels the need to come back for since they couldn’t lead on a better life just as easily. One could guess that Esperanza adopted her ambition from her friend Alicia, who was described as staying up all night studying and only fears her father, whereas Esperanza says she fears losing her father and taking on the fate of girls like Sally. Even then, Alicia encouraged Esperanza to never forget where she came from once she reaches success, even if it was a source of shame. Characters such as Alicia and the three sisters both influence Esperanza’s viewpoint of her past and transformed it into something worth coming back and making a change to for future generations.

Chapter 11: …More Than It’s Gonna Hurt You: Concerning Violence

Summarize the types of violence that Foster presents in How to Read Lit. Next, present examples of two kinds of violence found in House on Mango Street, and discuss how the effect on the reader is different for each form.

Foster presents violence as something beyond its literal meaning and can take on a cultural, societal, or even biblical meaning. Violence in literature is not strictly just physical contact, it could be accidents, illnesses, or even the corrupt actions of others.

Chapter 12: Is That a Symbol?

After presenting Foster’s primary attributes of symbols, discuss two symbols from House on Mango Street and what they represent for the reader.

Since symbols are inspired by the character’s culture and, more importantly, the reader’s understanding of culture, two symbols that stem from the culture presented include Esperanza’s shoes and houses. Esperanza is frequently seen being self-conscious about her brown chanclas and is one of the many setbacks that prevents her from coming to terms with her sexuality. She wishes she could have pretty shoes like the other girls, such as Sally’s black suede shoes., so she could feel comfortable dancing with boys at parties and being around them in general. On the other hand, the houses may symbolize a wide range of topics relating to poverty, but to the women such as Sally and Mamacita, they are prisoners to the homes owned by their husbands. They long to be let out to explore the world and escape Mango Street like Esperanza eventually does. Women’s rights are confined in the small, shameful houses on Mango Street and are restricted to the domestic housewife lifestyle.

Chapter 18: If She Comes Up, It’s Baptism

Think of a ‘baptism scene’ from any work you have read before (does not have to be HOMS. Not a literal baptism, and it could well be ironic). How does the scene depict baptism, and how does the experience affect the character(s) involved?

In the text Siddhartha, the character Siddhartha is seen attempting to let himself slip and fall into the river when he gives up on his path to enlightenment but ends up falling asleep beside the river. Once he awakens, his whole mindset immediately shifts and is “reborn”. Instead of resenting his past, he utilizes what he as learnt from his past mistakes and applies it to his future. He views the river as “self-knowledge” where he must take his own course, not anyone else’s, in discovering enlightenment and recognizing the link between the past and the future.

Chapter 19: Geography Matters…

Describe at least two aspects of the geography in House on Mango Street you find important, and explain how they contribute to the reader’s understanding of the novel.

The environment surrounding Esperanza includes her peers’ background that she dedicates chapters to ranting about and the novel being inferred to take place in America’s late 1960’s where the second wave of feminism sought for more equal opportunity for women and personal freedom. Unlike her fellow peers, Esperanza is frequently seen out with her friends on the streets whereas the women who marry abusive men or are disadvantaged by their language are stuck at home with no chance of pursuing a career like Esperanza did. Using the clues provided by Marin’s car and the songs that were popular, women were legally given rights but were still not receiving any results in the low-income neighborhoods where it was easy for women to get taken advantage of sexually and mentally. By the end of the novel, Esperanza took advantage of the new opportunities given and led on a better life in a respectable house and environment. Sally, on the other hand, followed in the footsteps of the women of Mango Street and married very young and has now consumed the role of longing to be independent and free from the social abuse of rights.


Identify two potentially archetypal characters from House on Mango Street and discuss the ways, according to Foster, that these characters might be considered archetypal.

The innocence of Esperanza throughout the novel is what sets her apart from most girls and women on Mango Street. When Sally agrees to kissing the group of boys, Esperanza turns it into a huge deal inside her head and results in being made fun of for being too concerned for her friends. She tries to hold onto this innocence by hanging out with her younger peers and escaping Mango Street with the career of writing so she wouldn’t have to come to terms with her maturity just yet. Another archetype may be the monkey garden, where Esperanza once enjoyed playing without being restricted by the grown-ups. Like the Garden of Eden, it is soon ruined by her experience with Sally and the boys when their sexual maturity soon corrupts its childhood innocence and once again forces Esperanza to come to terms with her adolescence as well, which she is not quite ready for as she is seen ashamed and wishing it could go back to simpler times.

Chapter 26: Is He Serious? And Other Ironies.

Select a significant instance of irony in House on Mango Street. What makes it ironic? How does the irony affect the reader’s sense of its significance and meaning? (We’re looking for you to show that you genuinely understand irony.) You may discuss a scene or episode that you’ve already discussed above, as long as you focus on the irony here.

The irony in the novel begins with Esperanza’s home. Prior to moving in, she discusses how she was promised throughout her life by her parents that their new home would be something worth showing off in pride. Instead, it is described being in detrimental condition and symbolizes Esperanza’s shame of being born into poverty. As a result, Esperanza only views it as a house rather than a home due to her experiences that shape it into a prison for the disadvantaged folk.

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