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 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.