Role of Women

The role of women is a huge theme in House on Mango Street, even in the early vignettes. Today’s lesson focused on “Marin” and “Alicia Who Is Afraid of Mice” and my eighth graders compared/contrasted the two girls and related their stories to the already existing theme of the degradation of Mexican women. 

I set up today’s class with a collaborative discussion as the focus. The students partner read the two vignettes, then took turns writing ideas on the board–what they learned about Marin and Alicia, descriptions, and theme ideas.

The students said that Marin was a bold character, one who was more focused on boys, makeup, and attention. They said she was probably older, because of her job with Avon and her babysitting duties. She was also planning on marrying her boyfriend from Puerto Rico, so her mindset just seemed to be that of an older girl. One student pointed out that Esperanza described her as ‘older in many ways’ (27).

The students compared Alicia to Marin, saying Alicia was quieter, more reserved, and had gone through more difficult life events. Her mother had passed away, and therefore she was put into the role of the homemaker. One student pointed out that she had inherited her mother’s ‘sleepiness and rolling pins,’ which they said could mean her mother’s duties as cook busy, stay-at-home mom (32).

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The depth of their discussion was awesome! To close class, I showed a short commercial/video clip called #likeagirl.

I wanted students to make their own inferences as to why I showed it, but my purpose was to get them to think about the degradation of women–how Mexican women, especially, were treated as seen and not heard. They were supposed to fit their roles and keep their places ‘by the window’. I wanted the video clip to be a contemporary way of how we still sometimes treat women differently. We will pick this up tomorrow and expound on this idea, connecting the text to our personal lives!

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