Themes in The House on Mango Street

It is important not to confuse a theme of a literary work with its subject. Although theme and subject are often used throughout the same line of work, they are different. The subject can be defined as, “what you or others think the work is about” (Griffith). The subject is often stated in a word or phrase. In contrast to the subject, “theme is what the work says about the subject” (Griffith). A theme can be stated through one sentence, or several. There are many themes that can be explored in the novel, The House on Mango Street, but certain themes can reveal how the author reflects on a subject and why the narrator is relevant to that subject and theme. Esperanza, the narrator, is a young girl experiencing adolescence not only longing for a place to fit in but also wanting to be beautiful. Children in their adolescent stage can change their views on beauty and what is “beautiful” within them by acknowledging others perception of beauty and what can be considered beautiful. Even though beauty can be seen and interpreted in many ways, the flaws that lie within beauty come at a cost.

In the beginning of the novel, Cisneros point out the importance of beauty and how Esperanza is conflicted with beauty amongst herself. Esperanza’s self -discovery in “Beautiful and Cruel” when Esperanza says “I am an ugly daughter I am the one nobody comes for” is relevant because beauty begins within a person’s self-interpretation (88). This quote also helps support Cisneros’s argument of beauty and self-identity because it expresses why Esperanza is drawn back from associating with other kids in the neighborhood, such as boys, and it is her outlook on why “ugly” girls are overlooked because of their physical appearance. The theme supports Cisneros argument as well, because it is showing how trying find beauty amongst yourself can have an impact on your identity if you feel less of yourself. The cost of belittling oneself c…

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