House On Mango Street By Esperanza
In The House On Mango Street Esperanza reveals personal experiences through
which the reader is able to determine what kind of person she is; her views on
life, how she views herself, as well as how her poverty affects her view of
life, her view of her future, and how her poverty currently affects her place in
the world. The vignettes show different aspects of Esperanza’s identity as it
evolves and changes progressively throughout The House On Mango Street.

Esperanza’s identity, as divulged in the vignettes, is multifaceted. Her
shyness is evident when she is around people who are unfamiliar to her. This is
most likely due to the intimidation these people pose. For example, in the
vignettes "The First Job" and "A Rice Sandwich" Esperanza is too shy to
eat with her other co-workers and peers, as shown in the following quotation
from "The First Job": "When lunch time came I was scared to eat alone in
the company lunchroom". Another dominant feature in Esperanza’s personality
is the trust she has in others. This is one of Esperanza’s weaknesses as an
individual because it allows her to be gullible and vulnerable. In ‘Cathy

Queen of Cats’ Esperanza’s gullibility is obvious when Cathy tells Esperanza
that "...[her] father will have to fly to France one day and find
her...cousin...and inherit the family house. How do I know this is so? She told
me so.". Another error in trusting others is that Esperanza is susceptible to
betrayal. In ‘Red Clowns’ Esperanza is betrayed by Sally because Sally told

Esperanza that the circus would be a fun experience, but instead she was raped.

Esperanza blames Sally, the magazines, and the movies for lying to her about the
circus. Esperanza is a very idealistic person. She assumes everything is pretty
and fun, but when she finds out the acrimonious reality of life she becomes
disappointed and deems herself stupid for not knowing better. Unbeknownst to

Esperanza, her naiveté and inexperience is normal. For example, in ‘Gil’s

Furniture Bought & Sold’ Esperanza assumes that a music box is "...a
pretty box with flowers painted on it, with a ballerina inside..." but when
it’s revealed to her that a music box is just "...a wood box that’s old
and got a big brass record in it with holes" she feels ashamed she did not
know better. Despite her low self-esteem she still keeps hold of her dream of
acquiring "A house all my own.". Esperanza’s perception of herself does
not mirror who she really is. She views herself as unattractive, unintelligent,
insignificant and out of place. Such statements as, "...skinny necks and
pointed elbows like mine....do not belong here but are here..." provide
evidence. In ‘Four Skinny Trees’ Esperanza describes the four trees outside
her house as how she sees herself; how she has not found her place in the world.

Esperanza, like the trees, is trapped. While Esperanza is trapped on Mango

Street, the trees are trapped in concrete. The quotation from "Four Skinny

Trees" illustrates an optimism despite the limitations. "Four who grew
despite concrete. Four who reach and do not forget to reach." The desire to
leave Mango Street is the desire to lay new roots. There is an optimism which is
inconsistent with Esperanza’s negative self image. Esperanza’s poverty acts
as a physical obstacle from leaving Mango Street, but it does not prevent her
from creating dreams and desires. On Mango Street Esperanza lives in a
dilapidated, tiny house; a house with "bricks ...crumbling in places..."

"Everybody has to share a bedroom..." From this poverty was born

Esperanza’s dream. "I knew then I had to have a house. A real house."

Although her dream is to live in a house "with trees around it, a great big
yard, and grass growing without a fence," Esperanza does not plan to abandon
those who cannot leave Mango Street. "They will not know I have gone away to
come back. For the ones I left behind." Esperanza maintains a commitment to
her roots on Mango Street. At the outset of The House on Mango Street, Esperanza
is presented as a shy girl with low self esteem. As the book progresses she
appears to become increasingly strong, and clear about her destiny. Her optimism
prevails.