The House on Mango Street

by: Sandra Cisneros

Language

Quotes Language
We come from Texas, Lucy says and grins. Her was born here, but me I’m Texas. You mean she, I say. No, I’m from Texas, and doesn’t get it.

Esperanza meets Lucy and her younger sister Rachel, two girls who later become her best friends. Esperanza automatically corrects Lucy’s grammar after Lucy introduces herself. The incident shows that Esperanza already thinks like a writer, seeing language as something that can be crafted. The exchange also betrays Esperanza’s sense of superiority. Knowing correct English gives her a certain power over the other girls, as well as giving her permission to hold herself apart from them.

That’s nice. That’s very good, she said in her tired voice. You just remember to keep writing, Esperanza. You must keep writing. It will keep you free, and I said yes, but at that time I didn’t know what she meant.

This exchange occurs after Esperanza reads one of her poems to her dying aunt Guadalupe. Her aunt, one of several older women in the story who recognizes Esperanza’s talent, encourages her to become a writer. Guadalupe’s comments respond to Esperanza’s poem, which explores feeling free. After she describes her aunt’s encouragement, Esperanza remembers how she and her friends made fun of the way her aunt moved and talked. By telling this shameful secret, Esperanza tries to free herself of guilt. She learns to use language to resolve her feelings and take control of her life.

I put it down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much. I write it down and Mango says goodbye sometimes. She does not hold me with both arms. She sets me free.

Esperanza, now a writer, comes to terms with what Mango Street means to her. She recognizes that Mango Street and its residents have given her the stories that she now writes. Putting thoughts on paper and writing ideas down put distance between Esperanza and Mango Street. By writing, she sets herself apart as an observer of the scene. Through writing, she accepts her own past and moves beyond it.