Culture and Esperanza Essay

Submitted By jolienguyen1111
Words: 1231
Pages: 5

Option One:
Esperanza and her siblings are the children of an immigrant father. As the story unfolds, we see evidence of the effect on Esperanza of this perceived difference. Just how “different” is the reality of immigration in the United States? In “Laughter” (chapter 7), Esperanza sees a house that reminds her of Mexico. “Look at that house, I said, it looks like Mexico.” Her friends do not understand at all, but Nenny does. “Yes, that’s Mexico all right. That’s what I was thinking exactly.” Let’s think about the power of this moment of understanding and validation. What might it mean for Esperanza that someone (her sister) doesunderstand her? Now, let us observe the paintings of Alfredo Arreguín. What might we identify as distinctly Mexican about his work? Of course, you should enjoy and examine all of the work exhibit (remembering not to touch the art), but our focus is on Arreguín’s paintings for this exercise. With the effect of Arreguin’s symbols in mind, think of the Cisneros text. How and where does the author incorporate cultural symbols in a way that is comparable to Arreguin’s paintings? Thank you. In The House on Mango Street we are given a glimpse of what the reality of growing up in an immigrant family is like. Through Esperanza’s eyes, a young Chicana girl who is growing up in Chicago, we can begin to see both the subtle affects and larger affects that someone in her shoes might experience. The book follows along chronologically with Esperanza as she grows up, each vignette of the book holding a gem of thought or struggle or growth. There are many qualities that are easy to relate to in this book-- ways that she sees the world when she is young, and emotions that she experiences. There is an overarching theme throughout the whole book however, that captures the cultural struggles that she faces, and for me, this brought a very first-hand and easy to understand perspective to a prominent issue in this culture, but one that I have not personally faced. She rarely states the discomfort she faces in regards to her culture in a straight forward manner, but rather by reading the book with a receptive eye, we can understand some of the deeper meanings of the short stories she tells. There are times when Esperanza feels like she doesn’t quite fit in. The two cultures she lives with sometimes feel as though they don’t get along. In one of the first chapters, “My Name” she describes the way teachers pronounce her name, saying “At school they say my name funny as if the syllables were made out of tin and hurt the roof of your mouth”. In just one sentence we can see how a child would feel in this situation. Her name is beautiful in Spanish, and means “hope” in English, and yet when the name tries to overcome language barriers a part of its beauty gets lost, and she can sense that. Although immigration to the U.S. is a huge thing, close to 2 million immigrate every year, it is still easy for Esperanza to feel alone in it. Loneliness is another theme that circulates through the book. In the chapter, “Four Skinny Trees” she states, “Four skinny trees with skinny necks and pointy elbows like mine. Four who do not belong here but are here. Four raggedy excuses panted by the city.” In this chapter she truly captures what it feels like to not belong and how painful that kind of separation can feel like. This is a feeling that everyone goes through at times, especially during the teenage years. When Esperanza feels alone, it seems as though her heritage only adds to the emotion, creating more barriers that she perceives make her different than others. Although there are actual cultural differences that one might experience if they immigrated here from somewhere else, any perceived cultural difference that is based off some kind of hierarchy between cultures here, is the result of America’s selective view of what characterizes “American Culture”. Esperanza describes how the neighborhood she lives in is becoming…