Born in Chicago on December 20, 1954, Sandra Cisneros is an acclaimed American writer, who rose to fame in 1984 after her first chef-d’oeuvre novel, The House on Mango Street. In 1991, she came up with another enthralling collection of short stories entitled Woman Hollering Creek and other Stories. This paper focuses on the life and work of Sandra Cisneros.
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Cisneros was the only daughter in a family of seven children, and they often traveled from Mexico to the United States, as her father was involved in upholstery, which demanded constant movement between the two countries. Growing as the lone daughter was a complex phenomenon because she felt excluded from the family. Besides, her father compounded Cisneros’ woes because he referred to his family as six boys and a girl instead of seven children. Moreover, the six brothers decided to pair in twos, which alienated Cisneros further.
However, this alienation was a blessing as it forced Cisneros to start observing her environment carefully, which later inspired her writing career. She noted the poverty and repression that women were exposed to in an economically unequal and chauvinistic society. She observed the outstanding elements in her culture, which set it apart from the others and started writing about the same. She posits, “I intentionally started writing about all the things in my culture that were different from them—the poems that are these city voices – the first part of Wicked Wicked Ways – and the stories in House on Mango Street” (Dasenbrock, 1992, p. 302). Later in life, Cisneros taught in different institutions as a creative writer and administrator. Normally, she draws her writing inspiration from personal experiences and occurrences in her environment.
Cisneros has written eleven books starting with her 1980 inaugural piece, Bad Boys, and ending with the 2015 masterpiece, A House of My Own. Besides, she has contributed to several other books including Things We Do Not Talk About and Emergency Tacos among others. However, as mentioned earlier, The House on Mango Street pushed Cisneros into the limelight. Cisneros’ works are underlined with simplicity, rich diction involving bilingualism, and narrative modes, which set her apart as a writer. One of the outstanding themes in Cisneros’ works is femininity and issues surrounding female sexuality. Apparently, the Mexican and Anglo-American cultures where Cisneros was brought up celebrated misogynists starting with her father and brothers.
This aspect explains why femininity takes a central place in her writings. For instance, in The House on Mango Street, women are subjected to untold humiliation, which involves physical abuse from men. The protagonist, Esperanza, comes out as a dejected person, “She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow” (Cisneros, 1984, p. 11). Cisneros also focuses on the development of the Chicana identity because she felt lost during her youth. According to Doyle (1996), Cisneros felt lost between the American and Mexican cultures, as she could not identify with any.
I think Cisneros’ works stand out because she writes from personal experiences and societal observations. Such kind of inspiration gives the substance of her work, which evokes emotions that the audience can relate with as they explore her writings. Currently, I am reading The House on Mango Street, and I can relate to Cisneros’ emotions of loneliness and being lost in a repressive culture. I feel her struggle for a better life as she fights the odds to become an independent woman in an unforgiving world. Therefore, I think Cisneros’ work is unique given the personal experiences, which form the backbone of her content.
Cisneros, S. (1984). The House on Mango Street. Houston, TX: Arte Público.
Dasenbrock, R. W. (1992). Interview: Sandra Cisneros. In F. Jussawalla & R. W.
Dasenbrock (Eds.), Interviews with Writers of the Post-Colonial World (pp. 287-306). Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.
Doyle, J. (1996). Haunting the Borderlands: La Llorona in Sandra Cisneros’s Woman Hollering Creek. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 16(1), 53 -70,