Free Study Guide for The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
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Another aspect of Esperanza’s continuing maturity is revealed here: the changing way in which she relates to Nenny. In earlier chapters, she attributes Nenny’s impetuousness or naïveté to her stupidity. Here, she claims, “[Nenny] is this way because of her age,” and “she is in a world we don’t belong to anymore.” Though she is still disgusted with Nenny’s unwillingness to play along with the group, and feels self-conscious in front of her friends, Esperanza seems to have gained some perspective about her sister.
The rhymes the girls sing as they jump evolve effortlessly from their
conversation. Though they may be uncertain about what their future as
women holds--perhaps the reason they sing about hips in the first place--they
combine the mature subject with silly songs easily, and their imaginations
are clearly strong.
Esperanza gets a job to help pay for her Catholic high school, because
her father says only bad children go to public school. She plans to get
a job similar to those her friends have, at a dime store or hot dog stand,
but one day her Aunt Lala tells her she’s found her a job at Peter Pan
Photo Finishers. She simply has to match negatives with their photos,
but she feels nervous being around so many adults. Later in the day an
old man comes in and begins his shift, telling her he will be her friend,
and she doesn’t feel so uncomfortable anymore. But then he tells her it’s
his birthday and asks her for a birthday kiss. When she leans down toward
his cheek, he grabs her face, kisses her on the mouth, and won’t let her
If “Hips” demonstrated Esperanza’s ability to confront her nervousness
confidently, supported by her friends, “The First Job” reminds the reader
that things are not always so easy. At first, she is unable to calm down
at work, even though everyone is friendly to her. Then, when she finally
finds someone she feels comfortable with, he suddenly surprises her by
acting in a frighteningly inappropriate way. Esperanza is still a child,
inexperienced and naïve. One gets the impression that her reaction
to the kiss is one of embarrassment and fear, rather than the anger that
an older woman might feel. It is therefore interesting that Cisneros ends
the chapter with the kiss, choosing not to reveal Esperanza’s precise
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. 09 May 2017