Sandra Cisneros Influences Leading to Her Writing The House on Mango Street By Dan Kaczmarczyk
Family• Cisneros grew up on Chicago’s South Side.• Her parents were working class. Her father was an upholsterer and her mother was a factory worker.• She was the only daughter and she had six brothers.• Her mother loved books very much. They couldnt afford them, but they did go to the public library and their house was always filled with borrowed books. Cisneros said this was very important in nurturing her as a writer and her mother is always a voice in her stories.
Childhood• During her childhood, Cisneros moved several times, always into ghetto neighborhoods. Regarding the constant moving, she says, “The moving back and forth, the new schools, were very upsetting to me as a child. They caused me to be very introverted and shy. I do not remember making friends easily, and I was terribly self-conscious due to the cruelty of the nuns, who were majestic at making one feel little. Because we moved so much, and always in neighborhoods that appeared like France after World War II--empty lots and burned-out buildings--I retreated inside myself.” (Sagel)• In 1969, Cisneros’ parents were finally able to buy a cramped two-story bungalow in a Puerto Rican neighborhood on Chicagos North Side. It was an ugly red house similar to the one Cisneros portrays in The House on Mango Street.
The House on Mango Street• During the late 1970’s Cisneros had a breakthrough while attending a writer’s workshop at the University of Iowa. Her classmates spoke about the attics, stairways, and cellars of childhood that inspired them. It wasn’t until then that she realized how out of place she felt because she had no childhood memories like theirs.• It was after this realization that she decided she would start writing about topics she knew best. Cisneros says, "It was not until this moment when I separated myself, when I considered myself truly distinct, that my writing acquired a voice. I knew I was a Mexican woman, but I didnt think it had anything to do with why I felt so much imbalance in my life, whereas it had everything to do with it! My race, my gender, my class! Thats when I decided I would write about something my classmates couldnt write about.” (Sagel)
The House on Mango Street• The House on Mango Street is about a young girl named Esperanza growing up in a Latino and mostly Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago.• Regarding the autobiographical nature of The House on Mango Street, Cisneros is quoted as saying, "All fiction is non- fiction. Every piece of fiction is based on something that really happened.... Theyre all stories I lived, or witnessed, or heard.”
Works CitedSagel, Jim. "Sandra Cisneros: conveying the riches of the LatinAmerican culture is the authors literary goal." Publishers Weekly29 Mar. 1991: 74+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 9 July 2012.Tompkins, Cynthia. "Sandra Cisneros." American Novelists SinceWorld War II: Fourth Series. Ed. James R. Giles and Wanda H.Giles. Detroit: Gale Research, 1995. Dictionary of LiteraryBiography Vol. 152. Literature Resource Center. Web. 9 July2012.