Literature: The House on Mango Street

The House on Mango Street is a 1984 young-adult novel by Sandra Cisneros. It is structured as a series of vignettes told from the point of view of Esperanza, a young Mexican girl, who describes her neighborhood, her life and the people she knows.


The House on Mango Street contains the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Sally's dad beats her.
  • Babies Make Everything Better Averted like whoa.
  • Bookends: Part of the first vignette appears in the final one, Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes. And yes, the part that's repeated ends after the comma:
    We didn't always live on Mango Street. Before that we lived on Loomis on the third floor, and before that we lived on Keeler. Before Keeler it was Paulina,
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Esperanza's parents tell her she is being this when she stops participating in some family activities, out of frustration with their poverty.
  • Character Title: Marin, Sire, and Sally.
  • Coming-of-Age Story
  • Hope Sprouts Eternal: The four skinny trees.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Esperanza, throughout the entire book.
  • Jerkass: Mamacita's husband. He complains about Mamacita only being able to speak Spanish, when he could teach her English himself.
  • Long Title
    • There Was an Old Woman She Had So Many Children She Didn't Know What to Do
    • Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark
    • Rafaela Who Drinks Coconut & Papaya Juice on Tuesdays
    • Alicia & I Talking on Edna's Steps
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Writing is Esperanza's means of escape.
  • One-Word Title: Hairs, Laughter, Chanclas, and Hips.
  • Rape as Drama: Maybe.
    • To clarify: Esperanza is very clearly assaulted at a carnival by some random man, but it's never stated how far it goes. The reader knows that there was some very forceful kissing, but Esperanza doesn't elaborate. Was it too horrific? Did she block it from her memory? We don't know.
  • Slice of Life
  • Tarot Troubles
  • Title Drop: Many vignette titles are repeated in the stories. To name a few, The House on Mango Street (which is actually a double Title Drop, given that it's the book's title), My Name, Meme Ortiz, Those Who Don't, A Rice Sandwich, Four Skinny Trees, No Speak English, and Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes.
  • Woman Child: Ruthie. Many characters avoid her because of this.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Esperanza and her family live in the Latino part of Chicago, where most families are poor. She derisively describes how white people who go there are scared of her neighborhood, and she also says that it's scary for her people to go into a wealthy neighborhood.