The House on Mango Street

Sandra Cisneros

Sections 5–8

Summary Sections 5–8

Cathy provides a window into how outsiders view Esperanza’s neighborhood, even though Cathy is blind to her own family’s similarities to the families around them. Cathy’s family is moving because the neighborhood is “getting bad,” a racist reason that Esperanza immediately understands. Esperanza’s immigrant family, as well as other families like hers, is, in Cathy’s family’s view, causing the neighborhood to deteriorate, and the only thing to do is move. However, Cathy’s family does not seem to be struggling any less than the other families in Esperanza’s neighborhood. Their house, which Cathy’s father built, is overrun with cats and has dangerously crooked wooden stairs, no less an eyesore than any other house around them. Cathy, much like Esperanza, has created a world full of dreams and imagination to survive, and she tries to demonstrate her superiority to Esperanza by lying about being the queen of France. Though Cathy does not make racist comments explicitly about Esperanza, Esperanza understands that the comments apply to her, and she describes Cathy as rude. She sees clearly that families like Cathy’s will have to keep moving further away as families like Esperanza’s keep moving in.

In Lucy and Rachel, Esperanza finds the friends she’s been yearning for, but they do not prove to be the kinds of friends with whom she can share her deepest secrets, or who will support her in difficult times. In “Boys and Girls,” Esperanza longs for a friend. She points out that you can’t choose your sister, implying that she isn’t happy spending her time with or sharing her secrets with Nenny. However, when Esperanza does find friends, she finds in “Laughter” that Nenny sometimes understands her better than her friends do. This surprising revelation suggests that although Esperanza is willing to share her story, she won’t be able to share everything with the other young women in her life. She’ll have to go through the process of growing up almost entirely on her own.