Gender Roles in “The House On Mango Street”

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Gender roles are a significant component in The House On Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros. From the outset of the novel, Esperanza faces an identity crisis as she develops from a girl into a woman. Throughout her life, Esperanza experiences the differences between genders, specifically after moving in.

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She observes the girls and women living in her neighborhood and begins to internalize the social standing of women compared to that of men. Throughout her life on Mango Street, Esperanza crosses paths with a variety of female role models including Marin, Minerva, Rafaela, and Sally, who are each going through their own crises. Unlike these four women, Esperanza resists these gender norms that are rooted in the community.

At the beginning of the novel, Esperanza realizes the differences in social standings between males and females. At a young age, she already witnesses that the boys and the girls live in separate worlds because her brothers refuse to be seen talking to Esperanza and Nenny outside the house (Cisneros 8). The brothers are afraid that if the other boys in the neighborhood see them, they will be judged or mocked, which is the first sign Esperanza recognizes that portrays the differences in gender.

Even though Esperanza was raised in the same culture and community as the other women on Mango Street, she does not wish to follow in the footsteps of the women in her family. Esperanza goes against this gender norm by refusing to inherit her [great-grandmotherr’s] place by the window and does not want to be trapped like her grandmother once was (Cisneros 11). Also, she believes that the myth that it was bad luck if someone was a horse woman was because the Chinese, like the Mexicans, dont like their women strong (Cisneros 10). Her observations about gender expand to a cultural aspect, believing that men in certain cultures refuse to allow the women to be strong, like her grandmother once was. It is clearly seen that manr’s machismo [is] solely responsible for the Mexican-American womenr’s domestic entrapment because before Esperanzar’s grandfather forced her grandmother to marry him, she was an independent, wild woman, who had a sense of freedom (Burcar 121). Afterwards, she looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow (Cisneros 11). Due to this confinement, her grandmother was never allowed live life the way she wanted to and lost her own identity to her husband.

Esperanza encounters Marin, who is a young girl Puerto Rican immigrant who left her family in order to come to Chicago and take care of her Cousin Louier’s family. Marin is a story that is reflective of the predetermined attitude that has been instilled in the mind of many young women because her main thoughts focus on duty,

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