free booknotes online

Help / FAQ




<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->
Free Study Guide-The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros-Book Notes
Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version

CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 21: The First Job

Summary

Esperanza gets a job to help pay for her Catholic high school, because her father says only bad children go to public school. She plans to get a job similar to those her friends have, at a dime store or hot dog stand, but one day her Aunt Lala tells her she’s found her a job at Peter Pan Photo Finishers. She simply has to match negatives with their photos, but she feels nervous being around so many adults. Later in the day an old man comes in and begins his shift, telling her he will be her friend, and she doesn’t feel so uncomfortable anymore. But then he tells her it’s his birthday and asks her for a birthday kiss. When she leans down toward his cheek, he grabs her face, kisses her on the mouth, and won’t let her go.

Notes

If “Hips” demonstrated Esperanza’s ability to confront her nervousness confidently, supported by her friends, “The First Job” reminds the reader that things are not always so easy. At first, she is unable to calm down at work, even though everyone is friendly to her. Then, when she finally finds someone she feels comfortable with, he suddenly surprises her by acting in a frighteningly inappropriate way. Esperanza is still a child, inexperienced and naïve. One gets the impression that her reaction to the kiss is one of embarrassment and fear, rather than the anger that an older woman might feel. It is therefore interesting that Cisneros ends the chapter with the kiss, choosing not to reveal Esperanza’s precise reaction.


CHAPTER 22: Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark

Summary

Esperanza’s father comes into her room early one morning and tells her that his father is dead. It is her responsibility, as the oldest child, to tell her siblings and explain that they must be quiet today. Her father collapses and cries, and she wonders what she would do if he died, thinking about how hard he works for his family, and holds him for a long time.

Notes

This short chapter sketches Esperanza’s relationship with her father. Their affection for each other is touching, and Mr. Cordero is a very sympathetic figure: a simple man who combs his hair with water, he has apparently left his own family in Mexico to start a new one in Chicago, but must return to Mexico for his father’s funeral. Esperanza refers to Mexico as “that country,” which seems to suggest the great difference between it and her own home, and reinforces the sadness her father must feel at losing something that was already so far away.

CHAPTER 23: Born Bad

Summary

Esperanza feels terrible. She and her friends, as a game, impersonated her invalid aunt--mimicking her shriveled limbs, the way her blindness had changed the expression on her face--the day she finally died. Esperanza remembers going to her aunt’s house and reading to her, sharing her love of literature, and reading her aunt her poems. She describes her aunt’s house, full of the smell of sickness and unwashed dishes, and her aunt, lying in her bed “a little oyster, a little piece of meat on an open shell for us to look at.” Esperanza wonders how exactly her aunt got so sick, wondering whether it was because of something she did--falling off a step stool, for example--or whether she was just randomly picked.

Notes

This chapter is a clear contrast with the previous one, which showed Esperanza feeling safe and emotionally bound to her father. “Born Bad” begins with Esperanza’s rejection by her mother “my mother says I was born on an evil day.”) The entire tone of the chapter is sheepish--Esperanza begins by telling us how bad she feels, before she even tells us what happened. The contrast between the maturity of her guilt--she understands exactly why what she did was wrong--and the fact that she is still immature enough to have made fun of her aunt in the first place, is striking. Feeling so guilty is a turning point for Esperanza, because it makes her realize what she valued about her aunt: her aunt understood her love of writing. She appreciated Esperanza’s poetry. And her death makes Esperanza realize this about herself. “You must keep writing. It will keep you free,” her aunt tells her, and Esperanza tells us, “I said yes, but at that time I didn’t know what she meant.” She seems to mean that, since her aunt’s death and the shame she felt after it, she has come to understand.

Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version


<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->
Free Study Guide-The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros-Book Notes
Google
Web
PinkMonkey

Google
  Web PinkMonkey.com   

All Contents Copyright © PinkMonkey.com
All rights reserved. Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.


About Us
 | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page
This page was last updated: 5/9/2017 8:52:55 AM