The House on Mango Street


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 naivet? 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