It’s been more than 10 years since I first read – The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Yet in light of Donald Trump’s recent inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants, I thought I’d revisit Cisneros’ punchy little novel about finding a sense of belonging. The House on Mango Street is written in an episodic style in which the author uses punchy little vignettes to illuminate the main character, a young girl named Esperanza.
Donald Trump recently issued statements saying that Mexican immigrants are mostly drug dealers and rapists. He’s gotten a mixed bag of feedback from his comments, but I think he is neglecting to recognize everyday people like Esperanza. Yes, she is a fictional character, but born out of the mind of a very real person – Sandra Cisneros. The House on Mango Street opens a window into the mind of a female Mexican immigrant growing up in America. She deals with issues that any young girl would face: an evolving sexuality, feelings of abandonment, and a desire to be free. Yet, when I talk to other readers, people seldom remember that this book is also about social responsibility. Esperanza, the child, wanted to leave Mango Street and everyone else behind. As she grows older, Esperanza identifies more with her community and wants to help sustain it. She strives to engage specifically with other women in the neighborhood to give them a sense of empowerment and support.
That doesn’t sound like Donald Trump’s vision of Mexican immigrants at all. Maybe he should revisit The House on Mango Street.