IB Extended Essay: The house on mango street


To what Extent does Esperanza’s Cultural Heritage, Social Class and Gender Influence her Identity and Self-Discovery in Sandra Cisnero’s The House of Mango Street?



The research question in this study is, “To what Extent does Esperanza’s Cultural Heritage, Social Class and Gender Influence her Identity and Self-Discovery in Sandra Cisneros’s The House of Mango Street?” In order to successfully answer this question, the current study has focused on the literary analysis of the Cisneros’s work which is the house on Mango Street. Additionally, this essay has engaged in presenting a cultural, social, and feminist analysis of Esperanza’s emancipation in the overall content presentation making her overall story. The rationale for this is that her success is influenced by the prevalence of a successful confrontation between the Mexican heritage and the new possibilities generated by the Anglo World. The extent to which Esperanza defies her culture, social orientation and falling from the trap of feminism is a clear indication of a successful identity and self-discovery.  The analysis was supported by a detailed analysis of secondary research which has focused on the aspects of interest and their applicability in modern practices.

In conclusion, Esperanza attitude was successfully changed since she had experienced immense difficulties but successfully managed in overcoming the obstacles and still thriving. Her identity is significantly influenced by aspects of the neighborhood, socioeconomic status, culture, gender and the family. Living in the Mango Street in itself was a significant challenge for Esperanza initially bit after a successful identity and self-discovery, she managed to eliminate all the challenges and transitioned to better cultural heritage, social class and gender.

Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction. 4

2.0 Esperanza Cultural Heritage Influence on Identity and Self-Discovery. 5

2.1 Esperanza Cultural Heritage Background. 5

2.2 How Esperanza Cultural Heritage Influence her Identity. 5

2.2 How Esperanza Cultural Heritage Influence her Self-Discovery. 6

3.0 Esperanza’s Social Class Influence on Identity and Self-Discovery. 7

3.1 Description of Esperanza Social Class. 7

3.2 Influence of Social Class to Identity and Self-Discovery. 8

4.0 Esperanza’s Gender Influence on Identity and Self-Discovery. 9

4.1 Background of Esperanza’s Gender Issues. 9

4.2 Gender and Identity. 10

4.3 Gender and Self-Discovery. 10

4.4 Human Sexuality Influence on Identity and Self-Discovery. 11

5.0 Conclusion. 12

References. 14

1.0 Introduction

In this extended essay, I will be focusing to answer the question “To what Extent does Esperanza’s Cultural Heritage, Social Class and Gender Influence her Identity and Self-Discovery in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street?” The Cisneros’s the house on Mango Street presents a detailed evaluation of a character identified as Esperanza.  Esperanza is an adolescent attempting to appreciate her suffering and as such trying to seal her fate. Through a focus on the character who is a Latina, Cisnero engages in exploring the pain and predicament, trials and tribulations and challenges arising from the diversity in culture, social-economic and religious influence leading to an appreciation of her identity and self-discovery. The character consistently grows in the middle of diverse issues of rootlessness, gender, economic issues and ethnicity. This is evident in her practice of shifting from the house on the Mango Street with her overall family. Nevertheless, despite the shifting, she never wishes to stay there and dreams of a house of her own as a consequence of the mix-up emerging from the cultural issues, social class and the gender influence to her identity and the level of self-discovery. Despite the challenges faced, she was in a position of voicing out the stories of the other dwellers in the “house” and as a consequence moulding her sensibilities. As Culler remarked “Stories tend to offer diverse and complex answers” (97), and this informed Cisnero in writing a detailed story through a focus of the story of a young girl and as such demonstrating how the aspects of cultural heritage, social class and gender can influence the social identity leading to a successful self-discovery.

The interesting part is noting that the importance of cultural heritage, social class and gender influence and how it leads to a successful self-discovery and identity of Esperanza. According to Williams (84), cultural detective self-discovery has an impact of assisting an individual in actively investigating and exploring their cultural identities. As a consequence of a series of short exercises and discussions, the users are in a position of exploring the roots of cultural influences from childhood upbringing, key events, and people influencing them, and cultural belonging shaping who they are and their behaviour.  A similar phenomenon is evident in the case of Esperanza, and all her neighbours emerge from. This culture exerts significant influence on their identity, separating her from Americans and associating her with the specific economic class which is working class and an exciting relationship with the law.

2.0 Esperanza Cultural Heritage Influence on Identity and Self-Discovery

2.1 Esperanza Cultural Heritage Background

From a general perspective, Cisnero presents Esperanza culture as being a characteristic of a large variety of cultural influences coalescing to establish her unique identity. Nevertheless, her Hispanic cultural heritage is the most instrumental despite being presented as having a foundation in the Mango Street linking with the Latino families struggling to make their ends meet and missing their countries and having a tenuous relationship with the law with the order being an instrumental influence.  This is more vivid in Cisnero (35) where the author noted “the Eskimos got thirty different names for snow, I say. I read it in a book. I got a cousin; she got three different names, there are a million zillion kinds, no two exactly alike”.  This evidence the view that the house and neighbourhood forever mark Esperanza that she is currently living in. She expects to be the same as the other kids who have the freedom of eating their lunch at school rather than having to go home everyday. Nevertheless, with time, she accepts her situation, the house and consequently builds positive confidence which is evident of her altered identity and self-discovery.

2.2 How Esperanza Cultural Heritage Influence her Identity

According to Moore (34), as a best practice in having a distinct identity, many families practice a culture of passing names down from one generation to the next. The practice of passing and receiving the family name has a positive influence in adding an individual sense of belonging. It is in this regard that Cisnero (10) spoke of Esperanza’s name and noted that “In English, my name means hope. In Spanish, it means too many letters, it means sadness, and it means waiting”.  This name had been passed from her great-grandmothers. According to Elwyn et al. (75), the action of passing a name from one person to the other is not only an indication that they are being honoured in the entire lineage but to some extent an indicator of the existence of hope of goodness. This is done to ensure that the older relative is passed down to the younger generation through the name while being integrated with the cultural ties.

In the context of Esperanza, the name which had been passed from her grandmother had a negative implication to her identity. This is evident from the fact that she cannot see past her grandmother’s name that is now hers to bear. “It was my great-grandmother’s name, and now it is mine, she was a horsewoman too, born like me in the Chinese year of the horse” (Cisnero, 10). This is since Esperanza’s grandmother was not contented with the life that she had and this prompted her to note the following “She looked out the window her whole life; the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow” (Cisnero, 82). This was the greatest young Esperanza’s fears that she would end up inheriting the sadness as if somehow infused into her by the cursed, second-hand name. It was her primary wish that she would be separated from the language of her grandmother’s name in an effort of finding her identity. Additionally, she believed that the nickname such as Mamacita/Lisandra or Maritza or Zeze (Cisneros, 76) would be helpful in assisting her to accomplish the process of separation hence discovering her identity successfully. Hence, it can be argued that the Young Esperanza sense of self is lacking for she is not in a position of seeing herself past the language, the linguistics and the name. The nicknames are strong as they dictate the manner we can individually view ourselves and what we wish to be.

2.2 How Esperanza Cultural Heritage Influence her Self-Discovery

The Esperanza’s name has an implication of connecting her to the Latino roots and offers her with a positive sense of cultural identity despite lacking any awareness of the connection. At the school, the Caucasian girls find it a significant challenge saying her name “as if the syllables were made out of the tin and hurt the roof of your mouth” (Cisnero, 80). Nevertheless, based on her understanding of the meaning of the name, she believed…………………………………………….Please click the paypal icon below to receive this essay for only $20