Finding Home: The House on Mango Street

Students explore the American experience through the eyes of a young Latina girl as she struggles to define herself in relation to her community.

Unit Summary

Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street is the story of Esperanza, a second generation Chicana (Mexican-American) girl living in a low-income neighborhood in Chicago. The novella, structured as a series of vignettes, spans a year in the life of young teen Esperanza, allowing the reader a window into her world through first-person narration.

Through this text, students will study the relationship between a person’s environment and the formation of their identity. They will think about the way that Cisneros develops the reader’s understanding of the physical and cultural setting that Esperanza inhabits, and also how she develops Esperanza’s unique perspective on the world around her.

Because this is a shorter text, students will spend a significant amount of time engaged in close reading and rereading, thinking about the way that analysis of author’s craft leads to a deeper understanding of the text’s meaning. While The House on Mango Street is accessible to young adult readers due to relatively straightforward language and a structure of short vignettes, Cisneros nevertheless conveys complex themes about poverty, dreams, gender, and power through nuanced events in a character’s life.

The House on Mango Street continues students’ year-long study of what it means to be American, as it provides a nuanced picture of Mexican-American experience, as well as raising questions about what it means to be young and female in America.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials


This assessment accompanies Unit 4 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions


  • How does a person’s environment shape their identity?
  • How do gender expectations define a person’s experience of the world and dreams for the future?

Reading Enduring Understandings


  • “Home” can be both a physical place and also a symbol of larger ideas about belonging, independence, and empowerment.
  • Challenging life experiences can motivate a person to seek out a different future for themselves.
  • Sexism can profoundly shape a young person’s life, their sense of self, and their understanding of the world.




defy demeaning evocate preoccupied rigid stigma strut trudge


allusion figurative language metaphor mood perspective simile symbol tone vignette

To see all the vocabulary for this course, view our 7th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Notes for Teachers


  • The House on Mango Street contains incidents of emotional, physical, and sexual violence. These topics are difficult and potentially upsetting; use judgment when deciding whether these topics/lessons feel appropriate for your students. Teachers should take care to pre-read chapters and create a safe atmosphere in which students can discuss the book and the issues they raise.
  • Another issue addressed in this module is the oppression of/discrimination against women. It is important that teachers do not frame the conversation around this as being a uniquely Latinx issue; women experience gender discrimination in all cultures.  Students should understand that sexism is not just about individual people acting badly – it is a system and a culture that impacts us all, and that we all have the responsibility to dismantle.
  • There is one lesson that includes an undocumented character. Be sensitive to your own students’ life experiences, as this is at once a deeply personal and highly political issue.
  • Consider sending a letter to parents previewing some of the topics that will be discussed in this unit.

Lesson Map


  • HOMS pp. 3 – 9


Explain how Esperanza views her home and how living there impacts her identity.


  • HOMS pp. 79 – 93


Explain how sexism impacts the lives of women in Esperanza’s life.





Interpret the effect of a symbol in the text.


2 days


Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.7.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.7.1.a — Explain the function of phrases and clauses in general and their function in specific sentences.

  • L.7.1.b — Choose among simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences to signal differing relationships among ideas.

  • L.7.5 — Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.7.3 — Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.7.1 — Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

  • RL.7.2 — Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • RL.7.3 — Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).

  • RL.7.5 — Analyze how a drama's or poem's form or structure (e.g., soliloquy, sonnet) contributes to its meaning.

  • RL.7.6 — Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.7.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.7.1.a — Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.

Writing Standards
  • W.7.1 — Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

  • W.7.1.a — Introduce claim(s), acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.

  • W.7.1.b — Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

  • W.7.1.c — Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), reasons, and evidence.

  • W.7.1.c — Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), reasons, and evidence.

  • W.7.1.d — Establish and maintain a formal style.

  • W.7.1.e — Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

  • W.7.3 — Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

  • W.7.3.a — Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.

  • W.7.3.d — Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.

  • W.7.3.e — Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.

Spiral Standards