THOMS Activity

Cisneros's Goals: Does Mango Street Appeal to a Wide Audience?

Get ready to learn more about Sandra Cisneros and her goals for The House on Mango Street by listening to her NPR interview. Be prepared to dig deep into the book to answer questions about whether or not she achieved her goals.

Step 1: Listen to (and/or read the transcript from) Sandra Cisneros's interview with NPR's Renee Montagne.

Step 2: After you've finished listening to the interview, answer the following questions.  Please create a new document in GoogleDocs, name the document "THOMS Questions," and share it with me. 

  1. Cisneros says that when she began writing The House on Mango Street as a graduate student at the University of Iowa, she "was crossing borders and [she] didn't know it." What does Cisneros mean by this? How do the book's genre, form, and subject matter "cross" borders, exactly? Can this concept of crossing boundaries also be applied to Cisneros's circumstances as a working-class woman of color who felt "displaced and uncomfortable" at the University of Iowa?
  2. The author describes her work as a "cross-pollinat[ion]" of "fiction and poetry." Choose a chapter or passage from The House on Mango Street that best reflects this and write a brief description of how Cisneros's writing can be considered a "child" of both fiction and poetry.
  3. About The House on Mango Street, Cisneros says she "wanted to write something in a voice that was unique to who [she] was. And [she] wanted something that was accessible to the person who works at Dunkin Donuts or who drives a bus, someone who comes home with their feet hurting like [her] father, someone who's busy and has too many children, like [her] mother." She goes on to explain that she "wanted [The House on Mango Street] to be lyrical enough so that it would pass muster with [her] finicky classmates, but also open to accept all of the people [she] loved in the neighborhood [she] came from." Do you think Cisneros achieves all of this in her book? What is it about Mango that appeals to working-class folks, Ph.D.s, and teenage students alike?

Step 3: Be prepared to discuss your answers to the above questions in class.