Mango Street Oppress Women

In the novel The House on Mango Street the author Sandra Cisneros talks about a lot of issues that would be considered controversial. The controversial topics that are discussed in this novel would be rape, immigration, poverty, and religion and of course the role of women in society. The author shows that the issues discussed are not just issues that have a statistic attached to them. These issues effect real people in their everyday lives. They are issues that affect everyone they come across; even a young girl that is figuring out her place in this world. During the novel, Esperanza tells many stories where it is clearly evident that the men on mango street treat the women as if they’re possessions. The support the women in the story need from the men is clearly evident throughout the novel.

Many of Esperanza’s stories were mostly about the women on mango street and them dreaming of getting married, wanting to have the perfect family and perfect home life. Sally, Rafaela and Minerva are the main women that are found in the novel that have a constant need for a man to come into their life and sweep them off of their feet and rescue them of the constant oppression that surrounds them. These characters that are presented in this story are inspiring and strong but they are unable to escape the constant oppression that is surrounding them in their environment. Not only do the people on Mango Street oppress women, but they also feel irritated by Esperanza’s view of masculinity. “the Mexican men, don’t like their women strong.” (Cisneros 19). Too often it seems as though a recurring theme in this story is Esperanza’s experiences with women and how they are beaten by either their husbands or even their fathers. One example of a beating like this would be is when Sally finally explains to Esperanza why she constantly has bruises. “He never hits me hard” (92) is how sally begins to explain to Esperanza the constant beatings she endures from her father. There are numerous times in the book where women are treated unfairly, like when Mamacita has to stay in the house and take care of everything because she is trapped due to her lack of English speaking skills and because she is made to do so. Another example would be, when sally’s father constantly tells her that her beauty is a bad thing, and she has to come straight home after school so she doesn’t attract any form of unwanted attention. “her father says to be this beautiful is trouble,” (81) More insight on these examples would be found in the chapters that are called “What Sally said” and “No speak English”.

The role of the women portrayed in this story still rings true to how society perceives women, especially how women are perceived in the Spanish culture. The role of the women in the Spanish culture includes women having to stay home and take care of the family and care for their husbands. The women are expected to not work and have only their spouse support their family financially. The Spanish culture is a culture that is dominated by men.Many of the women wish they could leave and go out into the world and find themselves. From the start of the novel the main character Esperanza soon comes to realize that men and women live in “separate worlds” and that the women in society are nearly powerless. There is a constant conflict going on with the women in this book between being a sexual being and staying true to oneself.This constant oppression of women is passed down from each generation throughout the novel and it is clearly assumed from the men in the novel that the women will follow in the steps of their ancestors.