House On Mango Street Gender Roles Essay

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To Surrender Self Worth for Society
Too often in the community of Mango Street, a women’s independence is compromised for the greater authoritative figure, men. One might even go far as to say that gender roles represent a social construction on Mango Street. The people of the neighborhood grow to learn the ways of those before them, only to carry out the confinement of the women and oppression of the men. What is most appalling is that the women learn to accept their roles as helpless and incapable. In the novel The House on Mango Street, Cisneros uses the motif of gender roles to develop the theme that because women are often inferior to men, they view themselves as less important and must rely on men to determine their role in society.
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Esperanza recognizes a somewhat better role model in Alicia. However, although Alicia has managed to provide education for herself, her role as the women of the house forces her to come home each night; “Close your eyes and they’ll go away, her father says, or You’re just imagining. And anyway, a woman’s place is sleeping so she can wake up early with the tortilla star, the one that appears early just in time to rise and catch the hind legs hide behind the sink, beneath the four-clawed tub, under the swollen floorboards nobody fixes, in the corner of your eyes” (Cisneros 22). The effect that gender roles have on Alicia’s life is expressed when she explains the imperfections she sees in Mango Street to her father who attempts to convince her otherwise. Her father’s standard, and further, the community's standard of women is too strong for Alicia to counter. As a result, she is never fully able to leave behind the life she does not want for herself. Yet another example of the sense of helplessness the women of Mango Street portray is found as Sally’s character is further developed; “Sally says she likes being married because now she gets to buy her own things when her husband gives her money. She is happy, except sometimes her husband gets angry and once he broke the door where his foot went through, though most
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