The House on Mango Street Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- When she promises to return to Mango Street, Esperanza says that she wants to come back "for the ones who cannot out" (44.8). What do you think Esperanza will do when she comes back to her old neighborhood? Does her role as a writer give her some sort of responsibility to effect change in her community? How might a writer be able to "[make] it better" (42.5) when politicians like the mayor cannot?
- Cisneros has said that, in order to be a good writer, you need to think of what you can say that no one else can say. In other words, "write what you know." Cisneros's experience of growing up in a Latino neighborhood of Chicago inspired The House on Mango Street. How might the story be different if the author had grown up in a suburban or rural environment? Do you imagine the novella's message would change if the author weren't Latina, or if she were a man?
- What do you think of Cisneros's project to create a form of literature that is at once easy for anyone to understand and beautiful? Does ease of accessibility take away from art? Does the author's political project make her art more interesting?
- Esperanza Cordero dreams of having a home of her own to which she can retreat to think and write, but she also feels a connection to the other people in her neighborhood. How important is solitude and seclusion in the career of an artist? On the other hand, what role do community and interaction with others play in the production of literature?
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