English and Modern Languages


Master of Arts (MA)


Marybeth Davis

Primary Subject Area

Literature, General; Literature, Latin American


Chicana, Cisneros, Cultural, Family, Narrative, storytelling


U.S. Latino writers have steadily increased their critical and mass appeal since the 1980s when the "mini-boom" of U.S. Latino-literature first began. One of the leading writers of this literary boom is Chicana author Sandra Cisneros. Despite her distinct portrayals of intriguing families and familial relationships, critical articles and books which discuss her works rarely consider the family as a whole functioning unit. Cisneros's two novels, The House on Mango Street and Caramelo, contain similar narrators: adolescent daughters of the families upon which the novels are centered. The two narrators, Esperanza and Celaya, observe and report on the individual members of the family and the way in which the individuals interact with one another. These novels portray both the Mexican tradition of celebrating the family and the American tradition of celebrating the individual and the way the two cultures interact and affect Cisneros's characters. When the option is presented to them, Esperanza and Celaya both accept the role of storyteller in each of their families. The purpose of this thesis is to examine the way the narrators subjectively view their family members and how individual relationships affect the family as a whole. In accepting the role of storyteller and telling the stories of their families, the narrators are able to voice the pain of their family members as well as find their own voices along the way. Not only does the act of storytelling in these novels bring healing, but the very structure of the narratives allows insight into the inner-workings of each individual and permits healing for the entire family.