The slim volume of short stories by Sandra Cisneros entitled The House on Mango Street are narrated by a young Hispanic girl named Esperanza, the word for ôhopeö in Spanish. Most of these stories deal with the struggles of Hispanic Americans as they try to exist in their mainly Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago. In one story, Esperanza tells us about a group of trees that somehow grow in the bricks of her street: ôFour who do not belong but are hereàTheir strength is secret. They send ferocious roots beneath the groundàwhen I am a tiny thing against so many bricks, then it is I look at treesàFour who grew despite concreteö (Cisneros 74-75). In this analogy, Cisneros is symbolizing the struggle of Hispanics to overcome the challenges of living in a predominantly white society.
The collection of stories in CisnerosÆ book opens with the titular ôThe House on Mango Street.ö In this story, we see that Esperanza is embarrassed of her tiny little flat, with ôwindows so small youÆd think they were holding their breathö (Cisneros 4). In this story, we see the dreams of upward mobility of Esperanza and her family against the backdrop of the harsh reality of their socioeconomic circumstances. Though EsperanzaÆs mother provides her with hope, telling her that their living arrangements are only ôFor the time being,ö we see Esperanza understands this will not be the case; ôBut I know how those things goö (Cisneros 5).
We see that as much as the struggle of Hispanics to achieve the ôgood lifeö is a product of living in a predominantly white society, these struggles also include difficulties within the Hispanic community. For example, we see that gender conflict is often a concern in Hispanic families. We see this in the story ôAlicia Who Sees Mice.ö In this story, Alicia is the first in her family to study at university. AliciaÆs mother is dead and she lives with her father w