Study Guide

The House on Mango Street Chapter 1

By Sandra Cisneros

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Chapter 1

The House on Mango Street

  • The narrator starts by telling us that she and her family didn't always live on Mango Street – they've moved around a lot.
  • The family's new house on Mango Street is all theirs – previously they'd been renting apartments.
  • The narrator says her family had to leave their last apartment in a hurry because the water pipe broke and the landlord wouldn't fix it.
  • Mama and Papa had always promised their children that someday they'd live in a real house with working appliances and a fancy staircase.
  • The house on Mango Street is a disappointment – it's not big and fancy at all, and all six family members have to share a bedroom.
  • The narrator tells the story of the moment she realized she had to have a real house: one day, while she is playing in front of the apartment on Loomis, a nun from her school passes and asks where she lives. She points to the third floor of the worn, paint-peeled building, and the nun says: "You live there?" The narrator decides she needs to have a real house that she can point to without feeling ashamed.
  • The house on Mango Street is not that house.
  • The narrator's Mama and Papa say the house on Mango Street is temporary, but the narrator is dubious – she "[knows] how those things go" (1.11).

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