Independence Cannot Be Restrained


While reading the novel The House on Mango Street, one might notice that Esperanza is not like every other female in the story. Unlike the other women living on Mango Street, Esperanza always had her own ideas. She never wanted to be restrained to a life of looking out a window and wishing she could have done better. She knew that she had a future away from Mango Street and her goal throughout the story was to reach that future.

          In the last chapter of the story Esperanza makes the statement, “…but what I remember most is Mango Street, sad red house, the house I belong but did not belong to.” In only a few words, this quote sums up Esperanza’s feelings from start to finish. The reader can tell that these feelings were expressed many years later when she no longer lived on Mango Street. Esperanza says that the sad red house is where she belongs but not what she belongs to. Esperanza was trying to portray the feeling that she was indeed from Mango Street but she was not restrained to a life on Mango Street. Esperanza always had an independent spirit and she knew that she did not have to live her life in those kinds of conditions if she didn’t want to.

Esperanza never doubted the fact that she had a potential for a very successful future and she didn’t want to waste her chance. I believe that she partly learned this philosophy from her mother in the chapter “A Smart Cookie”. In this chapter Esperanza’s mother talks to her about how she could have been somebody. Her mother talks of how she always had a knack for academics and was even a talented singer. While talking to Esperanza she says, “Shame is a bad thing, you know. It keeps you down. You want to know why I quit school? Because I didn’t have nice clothes. No clothes, but I had brains.” I think that this was a very important lesson for Esperanza. It taught her about perseverance and how if she wanted to reach her goals, she must never give up. Mango Street didn’t own Esperanza but Mango Street was a big part of her life. Esperanza knew that Mango Street was a very important part of her life. While living there she learned how she wanted her life to be and what goals she should set.  The three sisters taught Esperanza that living on Mango Street is not something she should be ashamed of, but something to help her recognize how far she had come.

          The quote from the last chapter of the story represents Esperanza’s entire life. Even from the beginning of the story one could tell that Esperanza simply did not fit on Mango Street. Her independence separated her from all of the other women she was surrounded with. These women felt that they belonged to the lifestyle that Mango Street offered. A good example of this is shown in Sally’s actions. In the chapter “Linoleum Roses”, Esperanza says, “She met a marshmallow salesman at a school bazaar, and she married him in another state where it’s legal to get married before eighth grade.” Later she says, “She says she is in love, but I think she did it to escape.” Esperanza implied that Sally just got married to get away from her abusive farther. Sally didn’t think about an alternative future. Esperanza had very different ideas. She didn’t want to be dominated by a husband; instead she wanted to work to support herself. Esperanza wanted to be independent, and knew that eventually she would have to leave Mango Street to fulfill this goal. Esperanza was confident that Mango Street could not hold her back from her goals for the future. Although she struggled with her independent beliefs fitting into Mango Street, she knew that her beliefs could not be confined forever.

          There is no doubt that Mango Street was a big part of Esperanza’s life, but her independence and perseverance made it impossible for her to live there forever. I think that the quote, “…but what I remember most is Mango Street, sad red house, the house I belong but did not belong to” exemplifies these paradoxical feelings. Esperanza definitely was not just a dreamer but also a doer. She didn’t want to be like other women who dream of what they could have done; she wanted to do the best she could do. These feelings separate her form the other women on Mango Street and make her independent. Esperanza’s independence could not be restrained.