The House on Mango Street

by: Sandra Cisneros

Self-Definition

Quotes Self-Definition
I want to be like the waves on the sea, like the clouds in the wind, but I’m me. One day I’ll jump out of my skin. I’ll shake the sky like a hundred violins.

Esperanza reads this poem, written by herself, to her aunt, who is blind and on her deathbed. By comparing herself to waves and clouds, Esperanza shows that she’s starting to think of herself as part of a bigger picture. Although Esperanza’s aspirations remain unformed or unstated, the poem expresses her need to escape her surroundings and her desire to accomplish something important. Readers know that Esperanza already defines herself as a writer because she chooses to express her feelings in a poem.

When you leave you must remember to come back for the others. A circle, understand? You will always be Esperanza. You will always be Mango Street. You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.

At a wake for a baby who has died of a fever, Esperanza meets three old ladies. They appear in her story like muses or witches. One of them asks Esperanza to make a wish and then predicts her wish will come true. From the woman’s response, readers infer that Esperanza wishes to leave Mango Street. The old woman gives Esperanza the key to self-identity: recognizing how your own knowledge and experience have formed you.

Not a flat. Not an apartment in back. Not a man’s house. Not a daddy’s. A house all my own. With my porch and my pillow, my pretty purple petunias. My books and my stories….Only a house quiet as snow, a space for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem.

Esperanza describes the home and life she envisions for herself. She identifies herself as a writer, and places herself in an environment that makes her writing possible, living independently and alone. Young Esperanza imagines this life as an ordered, beautiful haven where creativity flourishes. The vision of her adult self helps readers recognize that Esperanza has discovered her identity and feels happy with the life she intends to live.