Mango Street-“Four Skinny Trees”
The House on Mango Street
Journal Guide for Chapter Twenty-Nine
“Four Skinny Trees”
Answer the following questions in complete sentences.
1. In what ways does Esperanza identify with the four skinny trees?
2. What does Esperanza learn from the trees?
Explain the significance of the following quotes.
Four raggedy excuses planted by the city.
Their strength is secret. They send ferocious roots beneath the ground. They grow up and grow down and grab the earth between their hairy toes and bite the sky with violent teeth and never quit their anger. This is how they keep.
Let one forget his reason for being, they’d all droop like tulips in a glass, each with their arms around the other.
When I am too sad and too skinny to keep keeping, when I am a tiny thing against so many bricks, then it is I look at trees.
Four who reach and do not forget to reach.
Four whose only reason is to be and be.
The theme of finding beauty in everyday things is continued in this chapter. What beauty does Esperanza find in the trees? What do the trees teach her? What is the irony in what the trees teach her?
Cisneros has a poetic style. She incorporates both vivid imagery and spare prose. She uses both to create a picture of the narrator’s world.
1. How does the description of the trees correspond with Esperanza’s description of herself?
2. How do these words used to describe the trees create the sense of tenacity that is an essential part of Esperanza’s life?
Nature has always been an inspiration for writers. Esperanza identifies with four skinny trees. With what element of nature do you identify? Why?