Course Hero. "The House on Mango Street Study Guide." Course Hero. 3 May 2017. Web. 5 June 2023. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-House-on-Mango-Street/>.
Course Hero. (2017, May 3). The House on Mango Street Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-House-on-Mango-Street/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "The House on Mango Street Study Guide." May 3, 2017. Accessed June 5, 2023. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-House-on-Mango-Street/.
Course Hero, "The House on Mango Street Study Guide," May 3, 2017, accessed June 5, 2023, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-House-on-Mango-Street/.
Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapters 33–36 of Sandra Cisneros's novel The House on Mango Street.
Minerva is just a few years older than Esperanza, but she is already married with two kids. Her husband keeps leaving her, and she is always sad. She writes poems every night after the kids go to bed. Sometimes she and Esperanza read each other's poetry. One day Minerva kicks out her husband for good and throws all of his stuff out the window. He comes back later and pitches a rock through the same window. He says he's sorry. The next week, "she comes over black and blue and asks what can she do?" Esperanza doesn't know.
Esperanza wants her own house on a hill "like the ones with the gardens where Papa works." She used to join her family on Sundays to drive through the well-kept neighborhoods, but she doesn't go anymore, because she is ashamed at "all of us staring out the window like the hungry" while Mama talks about how life will be when they win the lottery. Esperanza thinks people who live on hills sleep closer to the stars and so forget what life is like for everyone else. When she gets her own place, she'll remember where she came from. She'll let bums sleep in the attic because she knows "how it is to be without a house." She won't keep the bums a secret. She'll proudly announce their presence to all her guests.
Esperanza doesn't have Nenny's beauty, and she knows she can't wait for a man to rescue her from her circumstances. She idolizes the "beautiful and cruel" woman from the movies who has red lips and "drives the men crazy and laughs them all away." Women like that keep their power for themselves. Esperanza, who vows to never be "tame like the others," begins her own resistance, leaving the dinner table "like a man, without putting back the chair or picking up the plate."
Esperanza's mother is smart and talented—she's bilingual, she can sing opera, and she can even fix a television—but there are also some things she can't do on her own, such as use the subway to get downtown. She warns Esperanza to stay in school and study hard. "I could've been somebody, you know?" Mama says, before explaining she dropped out of school because she was ashamed of her clothes. "No clothes, but I had brains," she says, sounding disgusted with herself.
Esperanza wants to leave Mango Street so badly that it literally pains her to listen to her mother's far-fetched dreams about living in the fancy neighborhoods in which her father works. Esperanza doesn't want to just fantasize about her future—she wants to make her dreams a reality. Her brains, not her beauty, are her ticket out of the barrio. Though she has never met anyone who has actually left the neighborhood, she has seen a lot of examples of what not to do:
Though Esperanza is eager to leave Mango Street, she also doesn't want to forget where she comes from. She assumes the people who live in the fancy houses are snobs, and she doesn't want to be anything like them. Though Esperanza is often ashamed of where she lives, she's also fiercely proud of the people she knows. She can see the good in everyone, even those who look rough and act tough. Her vow to let bums live in her attic in Chapter 34 is evidence that she intends to be the same person even after her circumstances change. Empathetic and kind, she will judge people by what is in their hearts, not by what they are wearing. She believes all people, no matter where they start in life, should be able to rest their head in a place that feels like home.