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The House on Mango Street

Sandra Cisneros
Summary Sections 26–29
Summary Sections 26–29

Esperanza dreams of being Sire’s girlfriend, and this fantasy suggests one possible and dangerous path Esperanza may take through adolescence. She desires to be in Lois’s place, even though Lois, Sire’s girlfriend, is passive and helpless. When Esperanza says that Lois cannot tie her own shoes but Esperanza herself can, she naïvely believes that Sire might like her better than Lois because of her competence. However, on some level Esperanza realizes that Lois’s attractiveness actually lies in her incompetence. One of the reasons Esperanza does not have a boyfriend like Sire is that her parents strongly discourage it, telling her not to talk to punks like Sire. However, Esperanza may not need her parents’ advice in order to decide not to be like Lois. Her dreams and thoughts about Sire are rooted in an idealistic view of sex. In her dreams she can control the narrative, whereas in reality her constant need to be “brave” in front of Sire signifies the threat to her selfhood that sex represents. Even more threatening, Esperanza is nowhere near as helpless as Lois, and her talents and intelligence complicate the neighborhood’s acceptable image of attractiveness and femininity. Esperanza’s observation that Lois’s helplessness made her attractive to Sire suggests her insecurities about her own ability to attract men.

In “The Earl of Tennessee” and “Four Skinny Trees,” Esperanza’s language indicates that she is beginning to find beauty in the everyday ugliness that surrounds her. In the first section, Esperanza complains that her house has no front yard, only four little elms in front of it. However, in “Four Skinny Trees,” Esperanza finds inspiration and beauty in these skinny, jagged trees, qualities she couldn’t see when she first moved to Mango Street. Esperanza shows growth as a writer when she is able to empathize with a man, her father, in “Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark.” Now, she shows that she has moved to another level of empathy and observation by being able to identify with inanimate objects. In “The Earl of Tennessee,” Esperanza says that Earl’s dogs “leap and somersault like an apostrophe and comma.” Here again, Esperanza shows mature writerly instincts. She sees vitality in these punctuation marks, which other kids most likely view as boring grammar.