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

Assessment

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

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • 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?

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 themself.
  • Sexism can profoundly shape a young person’s life, their sense of self, and their understanding of the world.

Vocabulary

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Text-based

defy demeaning evocative preoccupied rigid stigma strut trudge

Academic

allusion connotation coming of age denotation figurative language imagery literary device metaphor mood perspective sensory details simile symbol tone vignette

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

Notes for Teachers

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  • 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

1

  • HOMS pp. 3 – 9

    RL.7.3

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

19

2 days

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Core Standards

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L.7.1

L.7.1.a

L.7.1.b

L.7.5

L.7.5.a

L.7.5.b

L.7.5.c

RI.7.3

RL.7.1

RL.7.2

RL.7.3

RL.7.4

RL.7.5

RL.7.6

SL.7.1

SL.7.1.a

W.7.1

W.7.1.a

W.7.1.b

W.7.1.c

W.7.1.d

W.7.1.e

W.7.3

W.7.3.a

W.7.3.b

W.7.3.d

W.7.3.e

Supporting Standards

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L.7.2

L.7.2.a

L.7.2.b

L.7.3

L.7.3.a

L.7.6

RI.7.1

RI.7.10

RI.7.2

RL.7.10

SL.7.6

W.7.10

W.7.3.c

W.7.4

W.7.5

W.7.6

W.7.9

W.7.9.a

W.7.9.b