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Notes on The House on Mango Street Themes

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The House on Mango Street Topic Tracking: Family

Family 1: Esperanza opens her stories with a description of her family. They are the most important people in her life, despite her frustrations and embarrassment, and will always be with her, long after her exodus from Mango Street.

Family 2: Esperanza describes the hair of each member of her family in youthful detail. Although they are all related, their hair is distinct. Esperanza believes she has messy and unruly hair, indicative of her personality.

Family 3: Esperanza is named after her great-grandmother, keeping the "hope" in her family alive. Her namesake was a wild and passionate woman, until she was carried away to be married somewhat against her will.

Family 4: Esperanza and Nenny do not look like sisters, or family even. However, the one conjoining piece of familial resemblance is their laugh. Their loud cackle is the same, and it makes Esperanza realize that they come from the same blood, the same family.

Family 5: Esperanza and her enormous, extended family celebrate the first communion of one of her distant cousins. They all gather together in celebration, dancing, eating, and talking. Times such as these, in which the entire family comes together, are a vital component to Esperanza's upbringing, whether she likes them or not.

Family 6: Esperanza sees her father cry over the death of his own father and feels close to her family. The bonds of family are what tie her with so many people of her past, and will tie her with people she meets in the future. She sees how human her father is when he sobs over his own papa.

Family 7: Esperanza teases her Aunt Lupe for her disease and inability to walk. When she does this, she feels guilty. Esperanza realizes that family is important, despite illness and injury, and that one should never mistreat another person - especially a member of the family.

Family 8: Ruthie is Edna's daughter, and by the bonds of family and blood, cannot be separated. Edna, therefore, cannot throw her daughter on the street homeless, like she does to other tenants. She must allow her to stay in her building as long as she likes, for family must always help family.

Family 9: Sally is constantly beaten by her own father, her family. He worries that she will turn out to be a loose woman, like his sisters and beats her whenever she is talking to a boy. Esperanza wants to help her, but realizes that there is nothing she can do. Sally was born into her family and can only escape it if she does so herself.

Family 10: Sally finds a family of her own by marrying a man and moving far away. This new family does not treat her much better than her previous one, for she is not allowed to use the phone or even look out the window. Sally's vicious cycle of family mistreatment continues on, with new people coming and going.

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