Finding Home: The House on Mango Street

Lesson 2


Explain how specific literary devices, words, and phrases—and their connotations—develop mood and reveal aspects of characters.

Readings and Materials

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Target Task


Writing Prompt

What words does Esperanza use to describe her great-grandmother, after whom she was named? What are the connotations of these words, and what do these words reveal about Esperanza’s feelings toward her namesake? Provide at least two words and phrases.

Key Questions


  • Read the first paragraph on page 10. What words does Esperanza use to describe her name? What are the connotations of these words? What do these words reveal about Esperanza’s feelings about her own name?

  • Read the second-to-last paragraph on page 11. What similes does Esperanza use to describe her name? What ideas do these similes communicate?

  • What does Cathy mean when she says, on page 13, “the neighborhood is getting bad”? How does Esperanza respond to this statement? Support your answer with evidence from the text.

  • Discussion: Sandra Cisneros wrote a whole vignette just about Esperanza’s name. Why are names so important? What do they symbolize?

    OR What does your name mean? Would you change it if you could? Do you have nicknames?

Lesson Guidance

Standard and Literary Concepts

  • Authors think carefully about the words they use, especially the connotations that words have, which can reveal a great deal about what characters are feeling and thinking.
    • Denotation: The literal meaning of a word; the dictionary definition.
    • Connotation: The ideas and feelings that a word suggests, beyond its literal meaning.
    • Mood: The emotional “atmosphere” of a scene in a text, which often evokes feelings in the reader.


  • Draw students’ attention to this line on page 10: “I think this is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like Mexicans, don’t like their women strong.” This line will be helpful as we dig into the issue of gender discrimination and machismo later in the unit.


  • Read The House on Mango Street, pages 17–24. Read and take notes on tonight’s reading and think about what we learn about Esperanza’s neighborhood and the people who live there from these pages.

Enhanced lesson plan

Enhanced Lesson Plan

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Coming Soon:
November 2020


Common Core Standards

  • L.7.5 — Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

  • RL.7.4 — Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama.