My Name” by Sandra Cisneros

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My Name” by Sandra Cisneros
In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing.

It was my great-grandmother’s name and now it is mine. She was a horse woman too, born like me in the Chinese year of the horse – which is supposed to be bad luck if you are born female—but I think this is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like the Mexicans, don’t like their women strong.

My great-grandmother – I would’ve liked to have known her, a wild horse of a woman, so wild she wouldn’t marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carried her off. Just like that, as if she were a fancy chandelier. That’s the way he did it, and the story goes she never forgave him. She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldn’t be all the things she wanted to be. Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window.

At school they say my name funny as if the syllables were made out of tin and hurt the roof of your mouth. But in Spanish my name is made out of a softer something, like silver, not quite as thick as sister’s name—Magdalena—which is uglier than mine.

Magdalena who at least can come home and become Nenny. But I am always Esperanza.

I would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees. Esperanza as Lisandra or Maritza or Zeze the X will do.

Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. New York: Vintage, 1991.

Name Essay

Using the excerpt from Sandra Cisneros’ novel The House on Mango Street as a model, write an imaginative/descriptive narrative that uses your name as a vehicle for sharing something more important about you. Below are some points to consider as you develop your piece. You do not have to respond to all of these or any of them if you have another approach in mind.

  • Do you know why your parents chose your name? Do you match up with

  • Does it have special family significance?

  • After whom are you named? How do you feel about that naming?

  • Do you know what your name means? How does its meaning match up with your perception or goals for yourself?

  • Do you have any nicknames? Are you more or less comfortable with them than your given name? Why?

  • Do you like your name? Have you ever wished you had a different name?

  • What analogies can be used to describe your name?

  • What imagery or figurative language can be used to describe your name, its sound and/or your feelings about it?

  • How well does your name fit your personality?

Focus Correction Areas

  • 10 Format – One to two pages with your first name written at the top of the page in a manner that makes it prominent. Includes a picture of you that demonstrates forethought and/or creative effort.

  • 10 Focus – Creates a central impression that explores who you are beyond your name itself – this is the key to your essay’s efficacy!

  • 30 Style and Content – Uses figurative language and sensory detail (simile, metaphor, personification, etc.) Underline at least five figures of speech.

  • 10 Conventions – Uses proper grammar and mechanics – Apostrophe rules followed

  • 60 Points Total

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