The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros
Analysis: Narrator Point of View
Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?
Our narrator is a young girl named Esperanza Cordero. For the most part, we see things from her point of view. Esperanza explains what her new house on Mango Street looks like, for example, and shares her personal feelings of loneliness and shame with us. But sometimes we read a paragraph or two, or even a whole chapter, in which Esperanza provides us with a seemingly impossible perspective. She writes about things she couldn't possibly have seen, because she wasn't there. What's the deal?
Well, she's a writer. And writers have very healthy imaginations. Take a look at this paragraph from the chapter "Marin":
Marin, under the streetlight, dancing by herself, is singing the same song somewhere. I know. Is waiting for a car to stop, a start to fall, someone to change her life. (11.5)
While she might not be there to see Marin dancing under the streetlight, Esperanza is able to envision the scene. That's the first time we see Esperanza narrate a scene that she's invented, but it happens again when she imagines the domestic setting of "The Family of Little Feet," or the kitchenettes and two-room flats of "Geraldo No Last Name." Esperanza doesn't really know what Rafaela thinks to herself when she's trapped in her house alone at night, but she can imagine it. It's still a first-person narrative voice, but she becomes a peripheral narrator for those few paragraphs. It seems Esperanza's not a completely self-centered narrator. She's not just concerned with telling her own story, but also with giving voice to the experiences of the members of her community who don't – or can't – speak up for themselves.