House on Mango Street: Four Skinny Trees
The Trees of Hope and Courage In The House on Mango Street, the author Sandra Cisneros takes you into a completely different world through the eyes of a young, insecure Esperanza growing up in a poor section of Chicago.A vignette that especially stood out was “Four Skinny Trees”.In this vignette Esperanza is describing four skinny trees that are overlooked and underappreciated.
Cisneros uses powerful personification techniques that not only create vivid images but trigger intense reactions. Her words trigger despair and hope, fear and courage, strength and weakness.
Esperanza is connected to these trees on an emotional level because what she is imagining in these trees is what she sees in herself. The trees served as emotional guides teaching Esperanza to have confidence. Cisneros projects Esperanza’s emotions onto these four skinny trees though powerful personification techniques. Esperanza sees a distinct parallel between her life and the trees. Esperanza feels as if, “They are the only ones who understand me. I am the only one who understands them” (74).
Esperanza sees herself in these trees, “…with skinny necks and pointy elbows like mine” (74). She sees these scrawny trees trapped in the concrete of Mango Street and can relate because she too is stuck in the concrete of Mango Street. Esperanza sees a parallel between her and the trees and imagines these trees with souls and emotions that reflect her own. She perceives the trees as full of anger, “They grow up and they grow down and grab the earth between their hairy toes and bite the sky with violent teeth and never quite their anger” (74).
It is apparent that these trees aren’t really angry but that Esperanza is embedding her hidden rage into these trees. Cisneros vivid personification makes the trees strong symbols of Esperanza’s emotions, her anger, fear, inconsequence and also her hope, courage and importance. These trees are misplaced and misunderstood but yet they keep on growing, keep on fighting. They continue to exist, not giving up, “Four who grew despite concrete” (75). The four scrawny, angry trees symbolize both hope and courage.
To Esperanza these trees symbolize an emotional guide, they teach her she can trade despair for hope and fear for courage. The trees are teachers. The trees could very well surrender, “… they’d all droop like tulips in a glass, each with arms around the other” (75). But they don’t they keep on growing despite that they do not belong. Esperanza takes courage from the trees to never give up. Esperanza has learned from these trees how to achieve a peace with who she is.
These four skinny trees that were probably planted by some city worker on a concrete slab are objects in which Esperanza has brought to life with her own emotions. Because they too are misplaced like Esperanza but yet they continue to be and keep growing, they do not give up. They have taught her not to surrender to who she is but to accept it and keep growing. One day Esperanza will leave Mango Street but instead of living with despair waiting to escape she is living with hope for the future and the courage to be strong throughout the process.