The Definition of the American Dream by the Narrator’s Family in The House on Mango Street, a Novel by Sandra Cisneros

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For most people, the American Dream depends on where and how they currently live. The term “American Dream” is loosely defined as the acquisition of wealth, fast cars, a beautiful home in a high-scale neighborhood, power, fame, and a loving, supportive, and altogether perfect family However, the American Dream can be more accurately defined as the pursuit of a better life, oftentimes a higher status is the dream that each individual creates for their future, For Sandra Cisneros’ narrator in “The Hottse on Mango Street,” the American Dream rested in a house Unlike many people today who are obsessed with their dreams of owning notjust one house, but huge properties and businesses , Cisneros portrays her character to be in the pursuit of a singular dream: to own a house that was solely her and her family’s.

The author portrays the narrator and her family building their own American Dream, creating their future house in their imaginations, envisioning a “house [that] would be white with trees around it, a great big yard and grass growing without a fence”, Their American Dream consists of merely a house that will belong solely to the narrator and her family, their dream is in a home that fits their family and their family’s needs, The American Dream that the narrator’s family longs for is not the pursuit of fame or fortune, they simply want a house to call home. More than that, they seek a house that would be large enough for the narrator’s growing family, one that had ”at least three washrooms so when we took a bath we wouldn’t have to tell everybody”, a house that would fit the budding family that they were.

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The narrator‘s family’s dream consists of a house that they can call home, a house that reflects their family‘s size. However, the author infers that this house is much more than simply a home better suited to the needs of the narrator and her family. The house that the narrator and her family seek goes beyond simply the aspect of being able to have a roof over their head that they call their own. For the narrator’s family, it represented stability. To have a house of their own meant that they would no longer have to move when their family became too large for an apartment, or when circumstances within the apartment demanded that they leave. When talking about her life as it moved from house to house, the narrator states that “they always told us that one day we would move into a house, a real house that would be ours for always so we wouldn‘t have to move each year”.

The stability that ownng a house could bring to the narrator’s family was truly what they sought, not simply any other house, but a house that would be theirs and theirs alone, with no fear of when or where they would move next, This is the hope that they hold onto in the midst of their chaotic lives. It is the dream that they grasp when they are occupying a house that is less than what they have always dreamed Cisneros writes that “we didn’t always live on Mango Street Before that we lived on Loomis on the third floor, and before that we lived on Keelerrn what I remember most is moving a lot”. Throughout all of the hardships and suffering that the protagonist’s family has gone through, the dream of the house they wish to one day own keeps them hopeful. Their dream becomes a constant, the only constant in a world that is ever changing and when houses are just a place to rest their heads at night, never inhabited long enough to become a home.

The house represents the stability that the narrator and her family would experience in having a house that they owned, never having to move again. The author also portrays that this house would represent the narrator’s parent’s ability to care for their children Growing up in what the author infers to be a somewhat underprivileged financial situation, the beautiful house that the narrator’s family dreams of becomes a symbol of the family’s wealth. In her story, Cisneros addresses the issue of what this dream of a house represents when compared to the setting in which they are already in From the details given, the reader is able to infer that the narrator‘s parents were not significantly wealthy and lived in a part of town that reflected that status, The narrator states that the moment she first knew she had to own a real house was when she was met by disbelief that she lived in an apartment in which she and her family were on “the third floor, the paint peeling, wooden bars Papa had nailed on the windows so we wouldn’t fall out“.

This detail supports the author‘s inference that the narrator’s family lived in a part of town that was not well-to-do, instead displaying the poverty that it‘s occupants experienced. At this point, the narrator is able to portray how it was not necessarily the house that she sought, but the picture that it reflected. This house, the one that her and her family dream of, represents far more than simply a place to rest their heads. It is a place that reflects the quality of their life, of their family. The narrator was able to envision this dream house when she was met with the nun’s disbelief, because it made her “feel like nothing”, like her house was not good enough and that therefore she was not good enough. The house that the narrator and her family dream of is their American Dream, because to them it represents a higher status, the parent’s ability to care for their children adequately.

The house that they dream of would provide them with a picture that reflected who they wanted to be, In America today, the status of others is portrayed by what they do, but more commonly by where they live The narrator’s family wanted a house that would portray them better than the various apartments they had occupied. They sought a house that would not be a symbol of poverty, but a symbol of care and the ability to provide The house was their American Dream because they needed a space in which they would fit, but it provided much more, it was a symbol of their wealth, a reflection of their status in society. In Sandra Cisneros’ short story “The House on Mango Street,” she depicts a family pursuing the American Dream. She goes beyond the boundaries of simply material possessions, and dives into the true reasons that her narrator’s family wanted a house, what it represented to the family.

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The Definition of the American Dream by the Narrator’s Family in The House on Mango Street, a Novel by Sandra Cisneros. (2023, May 11). Retrieved from

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