In the 1960s, society was drastically different than what it is today. In particular, family life was a completely different way of growing up or raising children. Books, even those written in the present day, can express these differences using examples from the past. One book in particular, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, contains three families who exemplify the differences of raising children in that society to that of the present. The first example of family societal differences is Esperanza’s family.
Esperanza comes from a very poor Mexican family.
Her family lives in an apartment with only one bedroom and bathroom in a red house on Mango Street. Because of racism and the mere fact that her parents are not perfectly fluent in the English language, it is very hard for them to find jobs and make a good salary. These troubles affect their parenting and how the family functions. For example, Esperanza feels that she has no privacy and dreams of one day escaping Mango Street.
She eventually achieves this, although other societal dilemmas will try to hold her back. When Esperanza and her family move in, she becomes friends with a girl named Cathy.
Cathy tells Esperanza that she will be her friend, but only for a few more days because the neighborhood is getting bad. Esperanza realizes that Cathy’s parents are only moving because people like her family keep moving in. This is a trend that happens a lot on their Chicago street and in their society.
Parents raise their children to believe the ideas that they themselves believe. Therefore, if Cathy’s parents are racist against Esperanza’s family, Cathy will also feel this way. Esperanza immediately understands this and doesn’t seem the mind as much as someone in today’s society would.
Finally, across the street from Esperanza lived a woman named Mamacita. She, her husband, and their baby boy moved to Mango Street from Mexico for a better life. However, Mamacita misses Mexico tremendously and refuses to take part in any American culture, including learning the English language. To make matters worse for herself, her child starts to learn the English language and sing commercial jingles that he heard on television. It breaks Mamacita’s heart that he does this and she tries to make him stop. Mamacita represents many stubborn families from this society who refuse to accept the fact that they are no longer in their native land.
These families try to keep their children away from American culture, the very thing that Esperanza sees as her way out of Mango Street. There are many family life changes that make today’s society very different than the one Esperanza grew up in. Esperanza’s family and the families that live with them on Mango Street are not very common in today’s society. This is because the reasons for their difficulties or views are much less common today. The differences in the two societies make the novel a story of that specific society, rather than a novel of any general one.