My first week of senior year has been bittersweet. I have spent 13 years with my peers and this is my last year with them, but I also can’t wait to go to college and be independent. This year I was expecting my classes to be easy breezy but I was very surprised when I heard how many essays and assignments were thrown my way. Don’t get me wrong, I can handle it. I just thought my senior year, I might catch a break before diving into college. Either way I haven’t caught senioritis yet, so far so good. Can’t wait to make memories this last year.
In Sandra Cisneros “The House on Mango Street,” symbolism helps enforce identity. Symbolism is found throughout the book but mainly when Esperanza is focusing on feet. In “The Family of Little Feet,” and “The Monkey Garden,” Esperanza notices feet rather than any other feature, because in her eyes, it identifies things about the person.
In “The Family of Little Feet,” Esperanza imagines feet for each member of a family. She describes the grandmother’s feet as “lovely as pink pearls and dress in velvety high heels that made her walk with a wobble, but she wore them anyway because they were pretty” (Cisnero 39). Because Esperanza finds identification in feet, she thinks the grandmother would have had an unstable, rough life, but continues to go through life with her head held high. Also in “A Family of Little Feet,” Esperanza and her friends get high heels to put on their feet. Esperanza finds identification in her feet, so when she puts on high heels, she is a beautiful adult, who is finally getting noticed. Esperanza uses other’s feet and her’s to symbolize identification.
In “The Monkey Garden,” we can clearly see how Esperanza identifies herself. After she tries to save Sally, who quickly betrays her, she runs into the garden to cry. “I looked at my feet in their white socks and ugly round shoes. They seemed so far away” (98). Her feelings are hurt because Sally ditched her. She feels like she isn’t pretty enough. She feels isolated. The symbolism of her feet reveals her self identification.
Symbolism of the feet displays identification. For Esperanza, feet are the markings of who a person is. Therefore, symbolism portrays the theme of identification.
Esperanza belongs on a house on Mango Street. The only problem with that is she doesn’t want to belong. People like Alicia pointed out Esperanza’s house, connecting her to it, but Esperanza would deny it, hoping it would just disappear. Esperanza states, “No, this isn’t my house I say and shake my head as if shaking could undo the year I’ve lived here. I don’t belong. I don’t ever want to come from here”(Cisnero 106). Esperanza sleeps at a house on Mango Street. She eats her breakfast there. She brushes her teeth and takes showers there. She gets dressed there. When she leaves school, she comes home to her family on Mango Street. Even though she doesn’t like it, her home is on Mango Street.
When Esperanza gets older, she wants to live in a nice house. She wants to be far away from poverty and Mango Street. She doesn’t want people to look at her house and point in disgust. She wants for others to be surprised by her house. She identifies herself with her house, so if she is proud of her home, then she can be proud of her house. However, no matter what, the house on Mango Street will always be her home, where she once belonged. She cannot make it go away or delete it from her past.
Set the scene: It is a sunny day. Children are outside playing tag and their mothers are laying on lawn chairs sipping on iced tea.
(Kids run and fall into a pile of marshmallows.)
“Those silly kids,” Mom 1 says.
“It’s a good thing they had Jay and J’s Marshmallows to break their fall,” Mom 2 says.
“It’s almost as if if they fell onto a cloud,” Mom 1 says.
(Moms look at each other and laugh)
(Mom 3 turns around and sees all the marshmallows are gone)
“Wow, Jay and J’s marshmallows must be pretty tasty,” Mom 3 says.
“No, You mustn’t do it! You can’t marry the marshmallow salesman. I know that you are marrying him because you want to escape your crazy father. I understand because I married Curly to escape my unsupportive mother,” Curly’s wife pleaded. “It will only cause more pain later. If he is wanting a 13 year old girl then he will continue to want a younger girl. He might even leave you for a younger girl when you start to age. I know that marshmallow salesmen. He has a bad temper and won’t want you to leave the house. He will want to keep you all to himself. The husbands always hold their wifes back just as much as the parents did. Besides all of that, you are barely a teenager. You are way to young touphold the responsibilities of being a wife.”
“I am not trying to escape my father. I love my father very much. The only thing I love more than my father is the marshmallow salesman,” Sally snapped, sticking her tongue out.
“That is proof right there,” Curly’s wife asserted, grabbing a hold of Sally’s tongue. “If you are young enough to stick your tongue out at people, then you are too young to marry. Please, Sally do not make the same mistake as me. You will regret it in a few years. You will enjoy playing house for a while but soon it won’t fun anymore. The marshmallow salesman will treat you differently. He won’t give you the attention you desire. I only see Curley a few hours a day and I wanted to be an actress. You can imagine the difference in attention.”
Sally rolled her eyes, “ Well, maybe you should have picked a better man or been a better actress.”
“Excuse you, little missy, I was discovered but my mother held me back. Concerning Curley, I should have waited. I know that, Sally. That’s why I’m urgiung you to think about it more. You are young. You can still turn your life around.”
“You don’t know me. I can handle this,” Sally confidently stated,”I will marry my beloved marshmallow salesmen.”
You are a young man. Because of your young age, you are easily influenced, yet you’re a leader. Unfortunately, you aren’t leading others in a great direction. Also, you are damaging Sally. You may not be aware of it, because she enjoys the attention you give her. However, it isn’t the attention she deserves. She is looking for attention from you, because the only time her father acknowledges her is to beat her. She is searching for positive attention from you and your friends. Instead of good attention, y’all are just giving her a different kind of negative attention. You pressured her into kissing all of you and that is going to give her a bad reputation. It will hurt her emotionally. You are pushing her down the wrong path. She deserves respect, Tito. You should be the one to step up and respect her, even though she doesn’t respect herself. You can use your leadership skills for the better. Start with helping Sally, then progress. Begin to focus on your education. Do all your homework and study for big tests. Think about the future. You could get a great job and buy a big house for your beautiful family. Your adulthood doesn’t have to be a repeat of your childhood. Even though it may feel like it sometimes, you aren’t trapped. You can take the high road, and I highly encourage you to do so.
In “The House on Mango Street,” by Sandra Cisneros, the thematic motif of friendship is employed through the people she encounters and how they interact. The friendship motif can be traced through various vignettes throughout the book.
At the beginning of the book, Cisneros tries to express that friendships aren’t perfect and they don’t last forever. In the vignette “Cathy Queen of Cats,” Esperanza finds her first friend in the neighborhood, but it is a short friendship. “I’ll be your friend,” Cathy said,”But only till next Tuesday. That’s when we move away” (Cisnero 13). Esperanza has been looking for a friend to tell secrets and jokes to, but her first friend is about to move, so she will have to find another friend. When playing with Cathy, Esperanza crosses paths with Rachel and Lucy. They all buy a bike together and become fast friends. Because they are little girls, they are going to fight and make up. For example, “Rachel almost put out Lucy’s eye about who was going to get to ride it first. But finally we agreed to ride it together” (15). The friends fought, especially since they are younger, but they worked through their differences. They compromised the first ride and rode it all at once.
The middle of the book puts an emphasis on friends helping one another out. When the girls were wearing heels, a bum man offer Rachel a dollar for a kiss. “We have to go right now, Lucy says taking Rachel’s hand because she looks like she’s thinking about that dollar” (40). When in need, Esperanza comes to her friend’s rescue. She knew Rachel didn’t want to kiss the scary man, but she did want a dollar. Esperanza was available to tend to her friend, simply by pulling on her wrist. Friends don’t always have to physically pull each other out of mishap to be helpful, they can also mentally pull friends out of confusion. For instance, the young girls don’t know much about growing up, so they talk to one another. When jump roping, Esperanza chants, “ I don’t care what kind I get. Just as long as I get hips” (51). The girls wouldn’t want to talk about hips with anyone else, but because they are amongst friends, they can talk about hips with other girls who are just as confused. Friends are always there for each other to help one another out.
At the end of the book, Esperanza begins to learn that friendships are a two way street and it isn’t fun to be the only car. “ I took three big sticks and a brick and figured this was enough. But when I got there Sally said go home.” Esperanza did what she thought was best. She was going to save Sally the way she saved Rachel, but Sally didn’t want to be saved and she didn’t bother explaining it to Esperanza. Sally wasn’t even nice to her. Despite Sally’s lack of friendship skills, Esperanza still cares for Sally. Once again, Sally proves her inability to be a good friend. “ I like to be with you, Sally,” Esperanza said, “You’re my friend. But that big boy, where did he take you? I waited such a long time” (99). Sally just left Esperanza alone. She allowed Esperanza to wait for her until she got into trouble. Sally was a bad friend while Esperanza was a great one. Their friendship was one-way, so it was a short friendship.
The thematic motif is expressed in the book in more places, but these quotes show friendship is fighting and working through it. Friendship is being there for each other. Friendship is two people working together to do what is best for each other, not just one person.
I stared intensely at the back of my eyelids for the first half of the flight. The black emptiness calmed my nerves, but was no where close to extinguishing them. My stomach felt like it was resting in my toes. I couldn’t shake the fear that I would never place my feet on the ground again.
“Excuse me?” an overly eager flight attendant tapped my nearly white fingers. I jolted then opened my eyes for the first time since I had eased into the scratchy blue seat. The flight attendant looked at me with his nurturing brown eyes. “Are you going to be okay?” His australian accent was intriguing. “Um yeah, I think I’ll be okay,” I stuttered. As he walked down the aisle, I looked past him at the two nonchalant, young girls across from me, sipping on juice boxes. Their full attention belonged to the crayolas in their dainty fingers and the Hello Kitty coloring books. They weren’t worried that we were 35,000 feet above the ground. They were ignorant, but I was not.
“The water should help,” the same flight attendant urged, setting it on the table I had pulled out in front of me. “I brought pretzels as well. I heard snacking rids women of nerves.” I pried my hands off the armrest to take the pretzels from his smooth hands. The plane jumped and the pretzels slipped from my grip. I clutched onto the arm rest again and tightened my eyes. “That’s normal,” he laughed. The plane jumped a few more times and I started feeling a little nauseous. A woman’s voice calmy commanded everyone to return to the closest seat, put on the seat belts, and look for the closest exit. I felt as if I was at the top of a roller coaster, waiting for the fall. Suddenly, the plane hobbled like an old man who has spent his life walking, but is getting a little shaky. “That’s not normal,” The australian flight attendant stuttered as he slid into the seat next to me. The oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling and panic mode set in. The flight attendant tried to calm me by making small talk. “I’m Callum. Nice weather today, huh?” He pointed at the window and the dark clouds surrounding us. I screamed. Callum slipped his hand into mine. “It’s going to be o-” he stopped himself because he felt the nose of our plane tilt forward and he knew that it was not going to be okay.
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