The House on Mango Street—Pre-readings
Date: __________________ Period: ______
the next few weeks we will be reading, studying, and analyzing Sandra Cisneros’ short novel, The House on Mango Street. The novel is made up of 44 short character sketches, or stories, called vignettes. Esperanza, a Mexican-American young woman who just moved with her family to Mango
Street, narrates them. Since the stories do not really follow each other chronologically,
we are going to read the novel in the thematic sections outlined for you below. We
will be addressing different subjects and literary devices for each set of stories.
Before we discuss each section, you will do a pre-reading assignment. Pre-readings
should be about 1 page.
Section One: Self Definition and Identity
Pre-reading question: What is the personal significance of your given name? Consider the meaning of your first, middle, and last
name. Does your name mean something different to you, your family, and your friends? What are your nicknames? What do your
nicknames mean to you and those who call you those names?
Read pp. 3-11 The House on Mango Street; Hairs; Boys and Girls; My Name
Section Two: Friendship, Neighborhood,
question: Is living in a house your family owns different from living in a house
or apartment your family rents? How? Are
renters, owners and homeless people all considered equal citizens in America? Why
or why not?
Read pp. 12-25 Cathy Queen of Cats; Our Good Day; Laughter; Gil’s Furniture Bought and Sold; Meme Ortiz; Louie, His
Cousin and His Other Cousin
Section Three: Freedom and Entrapment
Pre-reading question: In what areas of your life are you most free to do what you like? In
what areas of your life do you have the least freedom? Consider the roles gender,
race, religion, education, class, age, and upbringing play in limiting an individual’s personal freedom.
Read pp. 26-38 Marin; Those Who Don’t; There Was an Old Woman…; Alicia Who Sees Mice; Darius and the Clouds; And Some
Section Four: Growth and Maturity, Sexuality
Pre-reading question: How is growing into a teenage body (physically, mentally and emotionally) like moving into a new house/apartment?
Compare the experiences of moving into a new house/apartment to the experiences of being a teenager.
Read pp. 39-55: The Family of Little Feet; A Rice Sandwich; Chanclas; Hips; The First Job
Section Five: Gender Roles and Expectations
Pre-reading question: Should parents/guardians raise their teenage girls in the same way that they raise their teenage boys? Why or why not? What rules should be
the same for girls and boys? What should be different? Do you have brothers, sisters, cousins, etc. who are treated differently from you because of gender? Explain.
Read pp. 56-73: Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark; Born Bad; Elenita, Cards, Palm, Water; Geraldo No Last Name; Edna’s
Ruthie; The Earl of Tennessee; Sire
Section Six: Fitting in
Pre-reading question: Describe a situation where you once felt really out of place or uncomfortable. Why did you feel this way? What does the word “outcast”
mean? What kinds of attributes make people into outcasts? Why must society have outcasts?
Read pp. 74-87: Four Skinny Trees; No Speak English; Rafaela Who Drinks Coconut and Pineapple
Juice on Tuesdays; Sally; Minerva Writes Poems; Bums in the Attic
Pre-reading question: What parts of your life would you most like to escape? Can you
escape these elements at some point in your life? If so, how? If not, why not?
Read pp. 88-102: Beautiful and Cruel; A Smart Cookie; What Sally Said; The Monkey Garden;
Red Clowns; Linoleum Roses
Section Eight: Finding One’s “Home”
Pre-reading question: What inspires you most in life? What do you see your future
holding for you? What obstacles might stand in your way? In what ways will you attempt to overcome them and achieve your future desires?
Read pp. 103-110: The Three Sisters; Alicia and I Talking on Edna’s Steps; A House
of My Own; Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes