Gender Roles in Sandra Cisneros' and Maxine Hong Kingston's Books
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Sandra Cisneros and Maxine Hong Kingston: Gender roles
Feminism is often spoken of in generic terms, but the novels of the Hispanic-American author Sandra Cisneros and the Chinese-American Maxine Hong Kingston highlight how, even though the oppression of women may be a nearly universal construct, this oppression inevitably takes on very particular forms, depending upon the social, national, and political context of the authors. The authors' collective works highlight the struggle of women from historically-discriminated minorities to celebrate their cultures, even while acknowledging these cultures' patriarchal imperfections.
In The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, the reader is able to see how the anxieties about becoming adult women afflict the lives of young, Hispanic girls, particularly the poor, proud intelligent narrator Esperanza. In Esperanza's world, her Hispanic culture demands that women be sexual, yet punishes them for being so. In one scene, Esperanza and her friends speculate about how they need hips to make babies and try to laugh about their budding femininity, which seems, in the novel to be fraught with peril. In another scene they try on a pair of high heels for fun, which they eventually discard because of the unwanted attention this garners. The examples of women who lose their freedom because of love and marriage are many in the novel, such as Rafaela, who is locked in her apartment and can only communicate with the outside world through her