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Free Study Guide for The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

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THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET FREE NOTES



BOOKNOTES / SYNOPSIS


CHAPTER 25: Geraldo No Last Name


Summary

Marin meets a young man at one of the many dances she goes to. His name is Geraldo, and he gets hit by a car that night. Marin is questioned over and over, but all she can say is that his name is Geraldo and he works in a restaurant. He has no other identification. She feels bad and goes with him to the hospital, and disembodied voices--it’s unclear who they belong to--make comments like, “What does it matter?” and “What difference does it make?”


Notes

This chapter has a scope that is lacking, at least on the surface, in the other chapters. It is certainly not about Esperanza, as most other chapters are, but to say that it is about Geraldo and Marin would be limiting. It is about the experience of Mexican immigrants. Geraldo speaks no English, attends dances around Chicago, and carries with him absolutely no identification. No one else at the dance knows him. No one from Mexico will know what happened to him. And Esperanza, bitterly, uses these facts to speak for the police, for people who don’t understand Geraldo’s experience. Because he has no known last name, she imagines, people see him as nameless: “just another wetback.” The disembodied voices Cisneros uses to represent these comments are all the more striking because they don’t belong to anyone. Of course, Esperanza views him as much more than a nameless Mexican: she sees him as a representative of the entire Mexican immigrant culture. This, perhaps, is why Marin cared enough to stay with him at the hospital.




CHAPTER 26: Edna’s Ruthie


Summary

Esperanza describes Ruthie. She is the adult daughter of Edna, who owns a nearby building and is always evicting people. Ruthie, unlike Edna, “likes to play.” She wears mismatched socks and laughs to herself, whistles expertly, and loves candy. But she feels uncomfortable in stores, and is very dependent on her mother. She says that she is married and that her husband will come that weekend to take her home, but he never comes, and Esperanza doesn’t understand why Ruthie lives on Mango Street if she doesn’t have to. She loves books, and has her own sense of poetry. When Esperanza memorizes and recites “The Walrus and the Carpenter” just for her, Ruthie says nothing for some time, then finally tells her, “You have the most beautiful teeth I have ever seen.”


Notes

The difference between what Esperanza knows and what the reader knows in this chapter is significant. Clearly, Ruthie is a disturbed woman who lives with her mother because she has to for one reason or another. Esperanza finds certain things about her odd, but doesn’t really question her friend. She, like the rest of the children, simply enjoys her company. Thus, the chapter is tinged with sadness, because while to Esperanza Ruthie is just a fun, sweet, friendly woman, to the reader, these qualities make Ruthie’s problems all the more lamentable.




CHAPTER 27: The Earl of Tennessee


Summary

Earl lives in Esperanza’s neighborhood. He speaks with a Southern accent and wears a felt hat all the time. He works nights, and complains during the day when the children play too loudly. Everyone thinks he has a wife, but he has been seen taking several different women into his house at night, none of whom stay very long.





Notes

The difference between what the reader knows and what Esperanza knows is expanded in this chapter to include the entire neighborhood. Everyone talks about Earl’s wife, but it seems fairly clear that he doesn’t have one, and that he probably doesn’t know the women he brings to his apartment very well. For this tightly knit, religious community, to live that way is unthinkable. Earl is a complete outsider in his neighborhood, and serves to highlight the norms he goes against.




CHAPTER 28: Sire


Summary

Sire is an older boy who stares at Esperanza when she walks past his house. She tries to stare back, to show him she isn’t afraid, but she is in over her head and frightens herself and shocks him by staring too long. Sire’s girlfriend, Lois, arrives. Esperanza is fascinated, because Lois is petite and pretty and she and Sire stay out late together. Esperanza longs for a boyfriend, but Mrs. Cordero tells her daughter that people like Lois and Sire should be avoided.


Notes

Another aspect of Esperanza’s maturity, which with much of this book is concerned, is, of course, her sexuality. She is thrilled at Sire’s attention, saying to herself over and over, “Somebody looked at me. Somebody looked.” She is also afraid, but her fear does not hold her back as much as it once did. Now, despite her fear, she wants to “sit out bad at night” with a boy. As she says herself, everything inside her is waiting to explode. The fact that she is still interested in Sire even though her parents tell her that he is “a punk” testifies to her increasing independence.

 

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