In the short story “The House on Mango Street” Sandra Cisneros unfolds her childhood memories where she and her family struggled with poor living conditions on the way to their own house, and she seems to suffer from it more than anyone of the family. When one day they finally get the house of their own and her family seems to be ready to settle with it, she continues suffering because it’s not “the house we’d thought we’d get” (501), the one she imagined and built up in her dreams. At that point Cisneros obtains her dream to be fulfilled: she decides that whatever happens, she must have the house of her dream. This difference between her dream and reality is quite obvious and seems to upset her a lot; however, the impact of it is tremendous because it caused her to obtain the energy necessary for a dream’s fulfillment.
During the narration, Cisneros specifies the features of the house of her dream. It has to be not just her own place to live, but also a place that she could be proud of. She describes her dream house as “…one I could point to”; “inside it would have real stairs, not a hallway stairs, but stairs inside like the houses on TV” (501); it “would be white with trees around it, a great big yard and grass growing without a fence”. Even though these features are not necessities for living, the author’s own dream becomes her necessity to be fulfilled.
However, while living with her parents she understands that here her dream is not going to come true. The author’s present house contrasts with the house of her dream: “It’s small and red with tight steps in front and windows so small you’d think they are holding their breath. Bricks are crumbling in places and the front door is so swollen you have to push hard to get in.”(Cisneros 502). And this evokes a feeling of shame for her house, which is familiar to her since the last place they lived at.
This huge inequality between the author’s dream and reality, just like a difference in potential generates a driving force, gives her energies to dream and to be sure that she’ll fulfill her wish. Sandra Cisneros experienced what not having her own place is like, moving all the time and being ashamed of her living conditions; that helped her to build a dream, to know exactly what she wants from life, and gave a will to pursue her goal. She says, “I knew then I had to have a house. A real house.”(Cisneros 502).
Our dreams are often formed by childhood experiences; once we collide with harsh reality, feel awkward or ashamed- we know for sure for ourselves: when I grow up, I’ll do everything for this not to happen. And this gives us energy to achieve success.
Cisneros, Sandra. “The House on Mango Street”. 40 Short Stories. Ed. Beverly Lawn.
New York: Bedford, 2001