Free Study Guide for The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros|
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THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET FREE BOOKNOTES
Cathy is Esperanza’s neighbor. She explains who is dangerous in the
neighborhood, like Joe the baby-grabber, how to act around the men who
own the corner store, which girls her age not to play with, and many other
things. She gives Esperanza a sense of the neighborhood, past and present.
She owns many cats, and says she is the "great great grand cousin
of the queen of France." She says she will be Esperanza’s friend
until Tuesday, when she moves away, down the street. She claims that one
day, her father will fly to France and inherit the family house.
Cathy, like Esperanza, seems to be a dreamer. As Esperanza says, Cathy
tells her the neighborhood is getting bad, "as if she forgot I just
moved in." Clearly, she would like to distance herself from the impoverished
world of Mango Street, believing that she will one day move to France.
Esperanza doesn’t seem to realize this, and feels somewhat ashamed of
her lack of royal roots. She is fascinated by Cathy, which is unsurprising
considering her own dreams of leaving her life behind. Also, she seems
to have asked Cathy to be her friend, an indication that she is as lonely
as ever. Here we see Esperanza as a young, impressionable girl, being
awed by Cathy and seeing none of her flaws (her snobbishness, her know-it-all
The sisters Cathy warned her against, Lucy and Rachel, ask Esperanza
to give them five dollars so that they can buy a bicycle to share between the
three of them. They tell her they will be her friends forever, which Esperanza
accepts, taking two dollars from Nenny on her absent behalf. Lucy and Rachel are
dirty and sassy, obviously poor, but good-natured. Rachel is bolder and talks
more. They don’t laugh when Esperanza tells them her name. Esperanza is nervous
and somewhat intimidated by her new friends, but when the three girls pile on
the bike and ride around the neighborhood together, she has a lot of fun. They
ride through places Esperanza knows are dangerous, and Rachel teases a fat woman.
Esperanza, a polite and shy girl, is quietly shocked.
Esperanza makes her first real friends in this chapter. Significantly,
they are exactly the two people she has been warned against. This is one
of the many times in the book where Esperanza matures by defying, either
passively or actively, social norms. Although she has always been shy,
she gravitates toward rebels like Rachel and Lucy. Even though she recognizes
why her elders would not want her associating with the girls (they are
openly poor and "sassy" in a way that Esperanza’s family, presumably,
frowns upon), Esperanza herself does not seem to have fully assimilated
the values of her superiors. She accepts Lucy and Rachel, and has fun
with them--note the chapter title, "Our Good Day."
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