Sandra Cisneros’s writing style in the novel The House on Mango Street transcends two genres, poetry and the short story. The novel is written in a series of poetic vignettes that make it easy to read. These distinguishing attributes are combined to create the backbone of Cisneros’s unique style and structure.
The novel has confused many critics and readers because it reads like poetry, yet in actuality it is a narrative. Cisneros admits that many of the vignettes are “lazy poems.” This means that they could be poems if she had taken the time to finish them (Olivares 145). At many times throughout the novel the words rhyme and can almost be put to a catchy tune. For example, the chapter “Geraldo No Last Name” reads like a poem with end rhyme and a structured pattern. “Pretty too, and young. Said he worked in a restaurant, but she can’t remember which one” (Cisneros 65).
At the other end of the spectrum, the novel is a series of vignettes. “I would affirm that, although some of the narratives of Mango Street are ‘short stories,’ most are vignettes, that is, literary sketches, like small illustrations nonetheless…” says critic Julian Olivares (145). Cisneros has stated that she wants a reader to be able to pick up the novel and understand its meaning from any point within; therefore, the novel is told in a series of vignettes, each of which makes it own point. The vignettes are combined to create a larger story (Olivares 145). “Chanclas” is an example of Cisneros’s sound prose vignettes. “Meanwhile that boy who is my cousin… asks me to dance and I can’t” (Cisneros 47).This chapter is a literary sketch which illustrates Esperanza’s insecurity about being poor.
Mango Street isn’t necessarily structured in chronological order. There are no drastic nor specific changes in time. The reader understands that the character is growing up, but the existing structure can be rearranged without compromising the reader’s understanding. The chapters “Hips” (“They(hips) bloom like roses, I continue because it’s obvious I’m the only one who can speak with any authority…”) and “The First Job” (“So the next morning I put on the navy blue dress that made me look older.
O’Brien’s Things They Carried Essay: Experiences and Emotions
Experiences and Emotions in The Things They Carried
Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is not a novel about the Vietnam War. “It is a story about the soldiers and their experiences and emotions that are brought about from the war” (King 182). O’Brien makes several statements about war through these dynamic characters. He shows the violent nature of soldiers under the pressures of war, he makes an effective antiwar statement, and he comments on the reversal of a social deviation into the norm. By skillfully employing the stylistic technique of specific, conscious detail selection and utilizing connotative diction, O’Brien thoroughly and convincingly makes each point.
The violent nature that the soldiers acquired during their tour in Vietnam is one of O’Brien’s predominant themes in his novel. By consciously selecting very descriptive details that reveal the drastic change in manner within the men, O’Brien creates within the reader an understanding of the effects of war on its participants. One of the soldiers, “Norman Bowler, otherwise a very gentle person, carried a Thumb. . .The Thumb was dark brown, rubbery to touch. . . It had been cut from a VC corpse, a boy of fifteen or sixteen”(O’Brien 13). Bowler had been a very good-natured person in civilian life, yet war makes him into a very hard-mannered, emotionally devoid soldier, carrying about a severed finger as a trophy, proud of his kill. The transformation shown through Bowler is an excellent indicator of the psychological and emotional change that most of the soldiers undergo. To bring an innocent young man from sensitive to apathetic, from caring to hateful, requires a great force; the war provides this force. However, frequently are the changes more drastic. A soldier named “Ted Lavender adopted an orphaned puppy. . .Azar strapped it to a Claymore antipersonnel mine and squeezed the firing device”(O’Brien 39). Azar has become demented; to kill a puppy that someone else has adopted is horrible. However, the infliction of violence has become the norm of behavior for these men; the fleeting moment of compassion shown by one man is instantly erased by another, setting order back within the group. O’Brien here shows a hint of sensitivity among the men to set up a startling contrast between the past and the present for these men. The effect produced on the reader by this contrast is one of horror; therefore fulfilling O’Brien’s purpose, to convince the reader of war’s severely negative effects.