This is the story of Esperanza Cordero, and, at its heart, it is the story of every child who has gone through the very difficult transformation into becoming a teenager with all its excitement, fear, challenge and risk.No wonder it’s read in so many high school classes. Then as if she forgot I just moved in, she says the neighborhood is getting bad….
Her father will have to go back home for the burial and will bring back a black-and-white photograph of the tomb.
Meanwhile, Esperanza as the eldest will tell her brothers and sister the news and explain to them the need to be quiet and respectful.
An older boy named Sire is watching her as he rides his bike past her, and they exchange glances: I looked because I wanted to be brave, straight into the dusty cat fur of his eyes and the bike stopped and he bumped into a parked car, bumped, and I walked fast. Yet, the transition from child to adult is painful and harrowing for Esperanza. But, she is told by family and friends, she can never fully leave.
It made your blood freeze to have somebody look at you like that. At the photo finishing store, an Asian co-worker grabs her face and gives her an unwanted kiss on the lips. And, so it is, at the end of the novel that Esperanza is picturing the future. She knows she will find her way in the outer world. But she will remain who she is, even as her friends and family wonder about her life away from them.
In addition, it contains eight streets (along 40 Street) that could have a 4006 address.
The bottom line, though, is that we don’t really know where Esperanza’s home is located, and that’s a good thing.The neighborhood she lives in represents every Chicago neighborhood.It is, Esperanza says, a “neighborhood of roofs, black-tarred and A-framed and in their gutters, the balls that never came back down to earth.” Any child who grew up in Chicago lived in that neighborhood.“Just another wetback” As a Chicagoan, Esperanza is not just a resident of her neighborhood but also of the wider city.For instance, she gets her a first job at a photo finishing business on Broadway on the North Side.And Marin, an older girl she knows from Puerto Rico, is already moving out into the city as something of a trailblazer for her younger friend.Marin has been making money by selling Avon Products, but she wants to get a real job downtown because that’s where the best jobs are, since you always get to look beautiful and get to wear nice clothes and can meet someone in the subway who might marry you and take you to live in a big house far away.She will be the bridge between her father’s generation and her own, and a bridge between Mexico and America, and, ultimately, a bridge between her family’s neighborhood and the wider world she will realize she wants to discover.“His dirty fingernails” Esperanza also finds herself traveling over the bridge between childhood and adulthood, a journey that fills her with confusion, excitement and trepidation. I want to sit out bad at night, a boy around my neck and the wind under my skirt. “Mango Street” Esperanza wants to escape the house on Mango Street, and the neighborhood, and the life she has led and that her parents and siblings will continue to lead.Chicagoans often identify closely and deeply with their local community in a bond of geographic kinship. They are stupid people who are lost and got here by mistake.But there’s a flipside of this, as Esperanza explains: Those who don’t know any better come into our neighborhood scared. The people of her neighborhood aren’t afraid of what outsiders think to be scary-looking dudes.