12 oct. 2008

Home and Identity in Beloved by Toni Morrison and The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Home and Identity in Beloved by Toni Morrison and The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros


The House on Mango Street


A “Home” serves as a place to gather strenght, to formulate strategy, and to rest even when this is not enough to solve institutional and social evils.

A "Home" for Esperanza is a place where she is free to be herself, which in turn, will mean a fully developed indentity.

A “home” is a place with which characters feel identified, a home characterizes who they are and it determines how they view themselves. It is a depiction of who they are inside and how they grow through life experiences.

Change of spaces

Spaces change through geographical movement, from Sweet Home to 124 Bluestone.

Spaces and homes change as characters grow. How they view things also changes.


Home is constrained by the law, by the walls of the house, by the armed guards, by violence and trauma. A home demands for self-protection but it is not a place you can entirely rely on, it is vulnerable (school teacher / Bluestone)

The features that constrains Mexican homes in the United States are the windows of each house. Women fell trapped in their houses and they only have access to the world through the window.

Rent vs Ownership

124 Bluestone is owned by white abolitionists and rented by Baby Suggs.

Esperanza’s family have rented many houses but now they own the one in Mango Street.

Aim of home

Sethe creates in her house a space to provide warmth and sustenance to her family and yo the community

For many characters it is a place of refugee and belonging, the stories of the different characters show that they want to go back to the place they call home.

Relationship with the community

Center and heart of the Black Community, this leads to the lack of privacy. No sense of family for Baby Suggs, which is the reason why she opens the house for the community.

Their house is located in a Mexican Neighbourhood in the U.S where immigrants live and share their lives. No privacy.

The power of language

Beloved may be read as Morrison's effort to transform those who have always been the defined into the definers.

Even when being slaves, the characters manipulate language and transcend its standard limits. Their command of language allows them to adjust its meanings and to make themselves indecipherable to the white slave owners who watch them.

Throughout The House on Mango Street, particularly in “No Speak English,” those who are not able to communicate effectively (or at all) are relegated to the bottom levels of society. Mamacita moves to the country to be with her husband, and she becomes a prisoner of her apartment because she does not speak English. She misses home and listens to the Spanish radio station, and she is distraught when her baby begins learning English words. His new language excludes her.

Esperanza observes the people around her and realizes that if not knowing or not mastering the language creates powerlessness, then having the ability to manipulate language will give her power. She wants to change her name so that she can have power over her own destiny.

View on Women

For Baby Suggs the house provides a space for the necessary work of getting others out.

For Esperanza, Mango Street forces women into a subordinate position dominated by males who sexually manipulate women.