In 1984, Sandra Cisneros published a collection of forty four vignettes titled The House on Mango Street. This Bildungsroman narrates the experiences of growing up in a Hispanic-American neighborhood in Chicago through the eyes of Esperanza Cordero, a fictionalized adolescent girl who is transitioning between childhood and adulthood. Due to parallels between the lives of Cisneros and Esperanza, Esperanza functions as a surrogate for Cisneros. Cisneros suppresses the milieu she witnesses as a child; therefore, when searching for her literary identity, she uses phantasies to channel those experiences onto Esperanza Cordero. Through sublimation, Cisneros fulfills her desire to free herself from the limitations of traditional gender roles, which allows her to give a voice to all the women who cannot speak up for themselves.
Despite being a fictionalized character, Esperanza's life greatly resembles Cisneros' upbringing. In the first vignette, "The House on Mango Street," Esperanza states, "throughout her childhood, she moved frequently from one Chicago barrio apartment to the next because the residence had become too small for her growing family of six or inadequate for living" (Cisneros 3). Similarly, Cisneros was born in Chicago to Hispanic parents as the only girl in a family of nine. Her family moved frequently between Mexico and the United States, but for the majority of her childhood, she lived in subpar apartment buildings in the poverty-stricken regions of Chicago. Esperanza and Cisneros share a similar idea of what a "real house" should be. For example, Esperanza later in the vignette says:.
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. . . But the house on Mango Street is not what the way they told it at all. It was a small house with crumbling bricks, small windows, no front yard, no trees, hallway stairs, one washroom, and everyone had to share a bedroom.