In “The House on Mango Street,” Sandra Cisneros weaves a tapestry of stories that echo the experiences of women living in the margins, between cultures, and within the confines of societal expectations. Utilizing Gloria Anzaldua’s border theory, this essay examines the lives of women in Cisneros’s narrative, trapped by the physical and metaphorical borders that delineate their existence. Through Esperanza’s eyes, we explore the struggle for identity, belonging, and the yearning for a life beyond Mango Street, against the backdrop of Anzaldua’s insights into the mestizo experience.

Anzaldua defines this border between Mexico and the United States as being unnatural and confining. Although, the border does not necessarily separate the two countries, however, it results in sociological and psychological effects to the affected. Notably, the Mestizoas have been forced to abandon their mother language, Spanish, and adopt English. Moreover, they are pushed from their ancestral land and left in great agony as they undergo rape, beatings, stress among others. They are denied a free pass to cross the border even though the whites on the other side are free to do what they want. Virtually, the border has been created to separate what is good from evil hence determine what is dangerous and safe. However, this border is directly targeted to the immigrants as they are exposed to hard conditions.

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The relationship between the sexes is evident as Anzaldua comes into terms with Chicana identity. She argues that lesbianism does not only have traces in males and female identities but is propagated by border languages, which results in a mixed culture. The most common culture at the border is Spanish and English. The relationship between the sexes is also expressed as she argues that culture is normally made by those in power who are mainly men and who is responsible for making rules that women transmit. Therefore, although there is an imbalance in terms of power that results in the suffering of people at the border, it is evident that Chicana literature acts as the avenue through which people make their views heard and respected.

Just like Esperanza whose woes are contributed by her family and people around her, Mestizo’s descendants are also addressed in the story, where Chicanos who are currently living in modern Texas are said to have moved South with their children, the Aztecs. As they moved and settled in the Southwest United States, their population started to grow as they mixed with the natives and Spaniards. This resulted in land grabbing, something that leads to the break out of war where Mexico was defeated. This made about 100,000 Mexicans homeless; although, some tried to fight back to retain their homes. This increased terror and lynching as American companies extended their encroaching to the Mexican turf. Mexicans went through severe conditions as they were employed in Mexican factories owned by Americans where they were forced to work long hours and adopt American culture. However, the rates of unemployment were high as the factories could not employ everyone in the country. Therefore, the Mexicans had few alternatives remaining either to stay in their country and starve to death or move north and continue to live. This resulted in illegal immigration at the border as they risked crossing the border to come into the United States due to desperation in their country. Anzaldua describes the Mestizoas home as, This is her home, this thin edge of barbwire. On the other hand, Esperanza states, I knew then I had to have a house. A real house. One I could point to. But this isn’t it. The house on Mango Street isn’t it. For the time being, Mama says. Temporary, says Papa. But I know how those things go” (Cisneros 5)

On the gender and sexuality border, Anzaldua states, culture expects women to show greater acceptance of, and commitment to the value system than men (Anzaldua 21). She argues that cultural tyranny places much emphasis on women who are expected to respect and follow values and rules that have been developed by men. However, she maintains that these values contribute to the formation of women’s identities and define their role in society. She argues that everyday life is intimately connected as it forms the art of living, which is resulting in the accomplishment and fulfillment of human needs. As a woman, she places much emphasis on the relationship of male and female gender and how each of them views and treats each other. As a result, she addresses various borders such as physical, linguistics, and sexuality border. She also maintains that sex relationship plays an important role in the creation of this border where men and women seem to be separated by some factors. This is evident by the fact that men are responsible for making rules and women are expected to follow them without question. Therefore, this forms a border between male and female, which is determined by the culture developed and adopted by a given community.

In this case, the book The House on Mango Street explores the relationship between gender and sexuality. Esperanza tells her tales and experiences with people. Later, she discovers boys through women and men in her street. One of them is Martin the girlfriend of Louie. She introduces Esperanza to new lifestyles apart from the one she had been used to in the street. She is introduced to nylons and makeup. She also intends to introduce her to bad behaviors. Fortunately, she is sent away due to her unbecoming behavior. Just like Esperanza, Elenita who is a fortune teller has the same wishes of owning a big house one day. However, she has no hopes of ever achieving her dreams. This shows how women are living the life of wishes and they have no capacity to meet their needs. Life in the theories of Anzaldua where women are the subjects while men make the rules, women are living a hard life due to the nature of the relationship between male and female in her culture. Esperanza and Nanny developed a close friendship with two sisters Lucy and Rachel from Texas. Indeed, Esperanza has developed many friends where she observes some of their activities to write their stories.

Esperanza is advised by Rafaela and Ruthie to avoid being married while she is still too young. This is in line with her mother’s wish and desire that her daughter should have a better life. This can be analyzed using Anzaldua’s border theory where young girls are married and raped due to the hardships that their parents undergo such that they cannot protect them despite being aware that their rights are being violated. Just like Esperanza’s mother who had great hopes for her daughter, parents normally plan and wish their children a better future than their current condition. However, other prevailing conditions may arise such as war, immigration, poverty, diseases among others that may make it hard for them to take care of their children as they had wished. These are some of the factors that have resulted in pay and agony among the Mestizos who have suffered due to the creation of a physical border between the United States and America (Cisneros 160). Moreover, children and women suffer most due to the existence of war and conflict. Indeed, immigration is one thing that causes deterioration of the life of people as they have options to go by when such conditions arise.

Esperanza meets people not only in their Mango Street but also in her new environment. At any moment, she tries to fit in as she feels ugly. Being away from Mango Street changes her perception towards men as she claims that she craves the touch of a man. Indeed, she realizes that the environment is not better than Mango Street. Although she has been shamed of her home, she understands that she will always belong there and cannot change the facts.

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Esperanzas dreams and hopes are symbolized by her deep desire for a good house. Her house in Mango Street gives her a great identity as she attached it to her family. Her youth has been characterized by movement from one apartment to another. Her parents kept promising her that one day they will be able to get a real house with higher standards (Cisneros 81). Her cling to an idealistic house makes her hate their house at Mango Street as it does not give her what she wants in life. Her ultimate goal is to have a house of her own.

She keenly observes the roles played by each gender in her street. She observed that many females stayed in isolation, especially from men as they felt trapped. For example, Rosa Vargas does not engage in any productive activity simply because she has too many children and there is no one to assist her in raising the children. This implies that her husband abandoned her leaving the burden of bringing up the children. On the other hand, Alicia is always trapped in the kitchen. She believes that she has to pick from where her deceased mother left. As a result, she is always cleaning and cooking to feed the younger siblings. Indeed, women have developed a limited vision in a way that even Alicia was to get into university, she did not wish to achieve above as this would make her neglect her roles. On the same, Minerva is abused by her husband. This makes them fight always. At a point, she kicks her husband out of their matrimonial home. However, after some time, she brings him back without resolving conflict between them. Another instance of violation of gender is seen where Rafaela is locked inside the house as her husband believes that she is too beautiful to mingle with others (Keating 86). Sally is constantly abused by her father. This diminishes her dream as she only plans to get married. This forces her to be married to an old man who does not allow her to get outside the house without his permission. Besides, she is not allowed to have quests when the husband is not present.

Esperanza, therefore, plans to defy some of these gender roles as it is evident from her stories that females are on the receiving end of men’s rule. She desires to remain independent from any form of men’s tyranny (Keating 120). Nevertheless, she is still searching for her identity as she is entangled in several things such as her poor background. She is a Mexican female as well as fact that she is undergoing her adolescence where most females have been taken advantage of by males. Fortunately, through her writings, she can discover her identity and define who she is.

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Evidently, Anzualduas border theory of women’s lives in the borderland captures various writings of Esperanza. Therefore, the two pieces of literature focus on women and their experiences. Virtually, the relationship between genders is greatly explored where men are seen as the perpetrators of women’s sufferings. Esperanza is convinced that she does not belong in the same class of being oppressed by men. She desires to ignore her background and work towards discovering who is she and the role she can play to enlighten women. This is the same case in the Anzaldua stories. The only difference is that in Anzaldua’s stories, oppression for women’s rights is a result of the creation of a borderline between Mexico and the United States. This results in a war where Mexicans try to defend their rights (Keating 41). Their only option is to move north to the United States where it is hard to immigrate illegally. Since they are not allowed to enter the United States as they are referred to as illegal immigrants. Indeed, the two stories are related. Esperanza is a Mexican young lady who is living in Texas. However, she is not happy since they are living in poverty where she only lives to fulfill her dreams that she is not sure of. The situation is aggravated by the condition that women were placed by their husbands or fellow men. Rules are made to favor one gender while women are required not to question but to submit to whatever has been passed (Matchi 72). The Mexican immigrants also suffered the same fate. In addition to being oppressed by the Americans at the border, they did not have any legal rights. Men were responsible for deciding what should be done and what should not. As a result, rules were biased.

In conclusion, there is a close connection between the book The House on Mango Street and the Gloria Anzualduas border theory of women’s lives in the borderland. As analyzed above, the two books address issues related to the immigration of Mexicans to the United States. However, the books focus on women and their experiences as immigrants in the United States and those who are living at the border as they are referred to as illegal immigrants. Differences in sexes are also given a major role in Esperanza’s book. She is involved in various activities where she can witness cases of women being oppressed by their fellow men. She gives examples of various characters in Mango Street whose lives were marked by the highest level of misery under the rule of their husbands and men who were involved in making major rules. This is the same case in Gloria Anzualduas border theory of women’s lives in the borderland where women are also on the receiving end. However, these two writers are trying to sensitive and advocate for the rights of women under any circumstances whether they are immigrants or natives.

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