Ghosts, Words, Memories and Stories in Katherine Anne Porter’s “Old Mortality” and Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street
Use this link to citehttp://hdl.handle.net/2183/17097
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TitleGhosts, Words, Memories and Stories in Katherine Anne Porter’s “Old Mortality” and Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street
AEDEAN 2008, 31: 849-858 ISBN-978-84-9749-278-2
[Abstract] Katherine Anne Porter was born in 1890 and she published “Old Mortality” in 1937; she was an acclaimed writer of short stories when Sandra Cisneros was born in 1954, and she had been dead for more than ten years when the latter first published The House on Mango Street. In spite of the chronological distance that separates both writers, and in spite of the different life experiences which determined their development, their works show the existence of certain interests in common. In this paper I explore some of these aspects of their fiction by focusing on Porter’s “Old Mortality” and Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street. Both works deal with the childhood and adolescence of two especially sensitive young girls, Miranda and Esperanza, who at the end of their stories still dream of a future of freedom and independence. But Miranda’s and Esperanza’s hopeful dreams are very different: while Miranda feels that she needs to break with her family and their stories about the past in order to be independent and “know the truth about what happens to [her] ”, Esperanza seems to have gone a step further, and she knows that her dream of a future life away from Mango Street will eventually bring her back to this place and its people. Thus, Esperanza shows a more complete understanding of her existence: she knows that her future dream will require her acknowledgement of the past. This means that she is ready to establish the dialogue between memory and the self which was essential in Porter’s fiction and which Miranda fails to achieve at the end of “Old Mortality.” In this paper I suggest that at least one of the reasons for the difference between these two characters’ final reactions can be found in the different role of language, words and stories in both texts.