Essay on Sandra Cisneros' "The House on Mango Street" and Judith Ortiz Cofer's "Silent Dancing"

Published: 2021-06-23
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Sewanee University of the South
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Comparison of Mestiza

The work of Judith Ortiz Cofer and Sandra Cisneros illustrates how the cultural issues that relate to gender and race manifest in the lives of individuals who are from a margined group and their struggle to find their identity in the US society. Their stories try to show the experience of growing up as a Latina with the influence of two different worldviews and their attempt to find their self. They try to combine the two ways of life together although they change some aspects and condemn others that they feel oppress them as women. The issues that the writers seek to address in their literature are almost similar although the emphasis is dissimilar due to their diverse backgrounds and based on their experience.

For any human being, as one grows up, they go through different stages of development until they mature. The earliest contact is usually that of immediate family and the surrounding community. For the Hispanic, a home has more meaning as it serves as a sanctuary where they preserve their heritage through a range of aspects such as the food they eat and the music they play. However, as they grow up, they encounter the world that sometimes different from home and there may be clashes of the cultural values, customs, and language. The collision leads to tension and sometimes confusion that may affect negatively on the development of the child and building their identity. In the case of the Latina, this anxiety is even bigger especially when they attempt to resolve an issue whose family and community expectations conflicts with their adjustments to fit in the American society. For example in The Witch`s Husband, the narrator expects her grandmother who is elderly and has been living with her ailing husband and five children to go to a nursing home since she is old. However, from her story, the grandmother can convince her granddaughter why she intends to stay at home despite her troubles.

In the case of borderlands, Anzaldua has Latin roots that give her the cultural sense of belonging and Western culture that is from her education background ( Kynclova, T,2006). The influences of the two social influences are shown by the authoress mixing the two languages in an attempt to create mutual idea and interconnect the two. In a bid to reconcile the two cultures that are bordering, she writes Borderlands which represents her life. She sees herself as a poet-shaman who just wants to heal the suffering that comes from being a Native American. The story is a confession of a person who is striving to preserve their cultural heritage and simultaneously deal with the contradictions that arise from the fact that they are in a new socialization.

The persuasion of the writer is being female gives her the means to discover the direction she wants to take in terms of the way of life ( Kynclova, T,2006). She can only achieve this by ascertaining her position as a woman since in her society she only has a subordinate standing. She focuses on dismissing the obligatory tradition, which expects silence of women among the minority cultures and oppresses them in their cultural, linguistic and their life. She intends to transform the identity of women through her writing.

All through the book, the authoress, Anzaldua, composes a mixture that is a revelation of the new outlook for catching the reality of the world and introduces a new way of writing. She manages to set the parameters of defining and categorizing the gender and ethnic identity of people.

The experience in the literal piece represents the autobiography of Anzaldua as an individual and the common story of the Latina people thus serves as a representation culture. The work of Judith Ortiz also represents the struggles of Hispanic people in their struggle adapt to modernity but at the same time preserving their sense of cultural belonging and she shows this inform of a narration of a story by the grandmother.


Constructing Mestiza Consciousness: Gloria Anzaldua's Literary Techniques in Borderlands/La Frontera-The New Mestiza. (2017). Retrieved 22 April 2017, from

Kynclova, T. (2006). Constructing Mestiza Consciousness Gloria Anzalduas Literary Techniques in Borderlands/La FronteraThe New Mestiza. Retrieved 22 April 2017, from

The Witch's Husband. (2017). Retrieved 22 April 2017, from


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