Latino Literature in America

By Bridget Kevane | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

The Fiction of Sandra Cisneros: The House on Mango Street (1984) and Woman Hollering Creek (1991)

Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1954 and currently resides in San Antonio, Texas. Born of a Mexican father and a Mexican American mother, Cisneros has never forgotten her roots. She dedicated Woman Hollering Creek (1991) to her mother, who gave Cisneros a “fierce language,” and to her father, who gave her “el lenguaje de la ternura/the language of tenderness” (Woman Hollering Creek Acknowledgements). The fierce Chicago English and the tender Mexican Spanish that filled her household as a child are part of her prose in both her fiction and poetry. Cisneros’s combination of languages is matched by the cultural mixture of the Anglo and Mexican worlds, of La Virgen de Guadalupe and the Alamo, of Jackie Kennedy and la frontera (the border). Cisneros, like members of many border families, has characterized her family as “a commuter family” (Kevane and Heredia 46), always moving between Chicago and Mexico during the fifties and sixties. Her novel Caramelo is based on the traveling back and forth across the border. Taken together, these elements—the mix of languages and cultures, and the travel back and forth across the border—highlight the differences that Cisneros had to weigh and balance on a daily basis as a Latina American/Chicana Mexican in the United States.

Cisneros describes her childhood as a young girl in a Latino barrio of Chicago as sheltered and protected, that of a “princess” (Kevane and Heredia 49). Despite the poverty, the gangs, and the lack of opportunities,

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