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The House on Mango Street

Introduction by the author, Sandra Cisneros: The language in Mango Street is based on speech. It's very much an antiacademic voice—a child's voice, a girl's voice, a poor girl's voice, a spoken voice, the voice of an American-Mexican.

I wrote these stories... guided by my heart and by my ear. I was writing a novel and didn't know I was writing a novel; if I had, I probably couldn't have done it. I knew I wanted to tell a story made up of a series of stories that would make sense if read alone, or that could be read all together to tell one big story, each story contributing to the whole—like beads in a necklace.

I merged characters from my twenties with characters from my teens and childhood. I edited, changed, shifted the past to fit the present. I asked questions I didn't know to ask when I was an adolescent. But best of all, writing in a younger voice allowed me to name that thing without a name, that shame of being poor, of being female, of being not quite good enough, and examine where it had come from and why, so I could exchange shame for celebration.

Am I Esperanza? Yes. And no. And then again, perhaps maybe. One thing I know for certain, you, the reader, are Esperanza. So I should ask, What happened to you? Did you stay in school? Did you go to college? Did you have that baby? Were you a victim? Did you tell anyone about it or did you keep it inside? Did you let it overpower and eat you? Did you wind up in jail? Did someone harm you? Did you hurt someone? What happened to Margarita, Fat Boy, Gizmo, Angelica, Leticia, Maria, Ruben, Silvia, José, Dagoberto, Refugia, Bobby? Will you go back to school, find somebody to take care of the baby while you're finishing your diploma, go to college, work two jobs so you can do it, get help from the substance-abuse people, walk out of a bad marriage, learn to be the human being you are not ashamed of? Did you run away from home? Did you join a gang? Did you get fired? Did you give up? Did you get angry?

You are Esperanza. You cannot forget who you are.

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