The House on Mango Street Sections 26–29 Summary & Analysis | SparkNotes (2022)

Summary: “Edna’s Ruthie”

Ruthie is the grown-up daughter of Edna, a mean and exploitative landlord who owns the apartment building next door to Esperanza’s house. One day when Angel Vargas is teaching them to whistle, Ruthie comes up and whistles beautifully. She likes to play with the children because she has never grown up enough to handle the adult world. She doesn’t go into stores with the children, and one night when her mother’s friends invite her to play bingo, she is paralyzed at the thought of going out with them. Ruthie is talented, but when she was young she got married instead of taking a job. Now she lives with her mother, but she waits for her husband to come and take her home. Esperanza brings her books. One day, Esperanza memorizes and recites “The Walrus and the Carpenter” from Through the Looking Glass. The beauty of Esperanza’s recital moves Ruthie, but she cannot express herself. Instead, she tells Esperanza she has beautiful teeth.

Summary: “The Earl of Tennessee”

Earl, another of Esperanza’s neighbors, is a jukebox repairman who works nights and is seen only when he comes out to tell the children sitting in front of his door to keep quiet. He has two lively dogs, and occasionally he gives the children old jukebox records. Earl supposedly has a wife, and many of the neighbors claim to have seen her, but everyone describes her differently. Earl clearly has a series of women whom he brings to his apartment for quick visits every now and then.

(Video) The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros | Chapters 29–32

Summary: “Sire”

Sire is Esperanza’s first real crush. He is a neighborhood boy who sometimes stares at her. Esperanza always tries to stare straight ahead when she passes him and not to be afraid. Her parents tell her Sire is a punk and that she shouldn’t talk to him. Sire has a pretty, petite girlfriend, Lois, who doesn’t know how to tie her shoes. Esperanza watches Sire and Lois take walks, or Lois riding Sire’s bike. Esperanza wonders what it would be like to be in Lois’s place, but her parents say that Lois is the kind of girl who goes into alleys. That doesn’t keep Esperanza from wishing she could sit up outside late at night on the steps with Sire, or from wondering what it feels like to be held by a boy, something she so far has felt only in her dreams.

Summary: “Four Skinny Trees”

Esperanza compares herself to the trees outside her house. She thinks that both she and the trees do not belong in the barrio, but are stuck there anyway. Both she and they have secret strength and anger. The trees teach her not to forget her reason for being. They inspire her because they have grown despite the concrete that tries to keep them in the ground.

(Video) The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros | Chapters 25–28

Analysis

Ruthie demonstrates the limited nature of a child’s perspective, but her section also brings up the darker, very adult subject of death. Despite Ruthie’s childishness, Esperanza hopes she’ll act as another Aunt Lupe and encourage her to create art, but Ruthie is either not mature or not aware enough to be of any help. Whether she is mentally handicapped or mentally ill is not clear, and whether her statements about her past are true is also a mystery. Although Ruthie shares some of Esperanza’s poetic talents, Esperanza can see more of people’s motives than Ruthie can, which makes her more adult than Ruthie. Because of Ruthie’s many limitations, she is another figure who, like Geraldo in the last section, represents the ultimate outcast—she fits into neither the child’s world nor the world of adults. Angel Vargas, the boy who fell and died in “There Was an Old Woman She Had So Many Children She Didn’t Know What to Do,” reappears in this section, which indicates that Esperanza met Ruthie fairly early on. However, not until she needs someone else to listen to her read poetry does Esperanza feel compelled to mention Ruthie. Angel Vargas’s reappearance in this section acts as a reminder that death lurks everywhere and that it doesn’t affect only older people, such as those who died in the previous sections.

Read an important quote from Esperanza describing Ruthie.

(Video) The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (full audiobook)

The womanizing Earl reveals the neighborhood’s vastly different standards for men and women regarding sex. Earl is one of the few grown men actually present in the barrio during the day. While Ruthie innocently waits for her husband to return for her, neighbors gossip about a wife Earl abandoned. He brings home many women, and different people believe different women might be his wife, though these women are most likely prostitutes. Esperanza notes off-handedly that no one in the neighborhood can agree on what Earl’s wife actually looks like. This is one of Esperanza’s more naïve observations, since the adults in the neighborhood are almost certainly aware that these “wives” are all different women. Associating sex with marriage and love is a child’s mistake, but the neighbors, who insist, seriously or otherwise, that all these different women are somehow his one “wife,” perpetuate the misunderstanding. No ugly judgments are made about Earl. He can do as he pleases with as many women as he wants, while Lois from “Sire” already has a bad reputation as a sexually willing and available girl.

Read more about the different standards for men and women as a theme.

(Video) The House on Mango Street Ch. 29-32

Esperanza dreams of being Sire’s girlfriend, and this fantasy suggests one possible and dangerous path Esperanza may take through adolescence. She desires to be in Lois’s place, even though Lois, Sire’s girlfriend, is passive and helpless. When Esperanza says that Lois cannot tie her own shoes but Esperanza herself can, she naïvely believes that Sire might like her better than Lois because of her competence. However, on some level Esperanza realizes that Lois’s attractiveness actually lies in her incompetence. One of the reasons Esperanza does not have a boyfriend like Sire is that her parents strongly discourage it, telling her not to talk to punks like Sire. However, Esperanza may not need her parents’ advice in order to decide not to be like Lois. Her dreams and thoughts about Sire are rooted in an idealistic view of sex. In her dreams she can control the narrative, whereas in reality her constant need to be “brave” in front of Sire signifies the threat to her selfhood that sex represents. Even more threatening, Esperanza is nowhere near as helpless as Lois, and her talents and intelligence complicate the neighborhood’s acceptable image of attractiveness and femininity. Esperanza’s observation that Lois’s helplessness made her attractive to Sire suggests her insecurities about her own ability to attract men.

Read an important quote from Esperanza about her sexual feelings for Sire.

(Video) The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros | Chapters 33–36

In “The Earl of Tennessee” and “Four Skinny Trees,” Esperanza’s language indicates that she is beginning to find beauty in the everyday ugliness that surrounds her. In the first section, Esperanza complains that her house has no front yard, only four little elms in front of it. However, in “Four Skinny Trees,” Esperanza finds inspiration and beauty in these skinny, jagged trees, qualities she couldn’t see when she first moved to Mango Street. Esperanza shows growth as a writer when she is able to empathize with a man, her father, in “Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark.” Now, she shows that she has moved to another level of empathy and observation by being able to identify with inanimate objects. In “The Earl of Tennessee,” Esperanza says that Earl’s dogs “leap and somersault like an apostrophe and comma.” Here again, Esperanza shows mature writerly instincts. She sees vitality in these punctuation marks, which other kids most likely view as boring grammar.

Read more about trees as symbols.

(Video) The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros | Chapters 21–24

FAQs

Who is Esperanza's first crush? ›

Sire is Esperanza's first real crush. He is a neighborhood boy who sometimes stares at her. Esperanza always tries to stare straight ahead when she passes him and not to be afraid.

Does Esperanza get assaulted? ›

Esperanza is sexually assaulted — twice

Just as Esperanza is about to hesitantly agree, he grabs her face and forces himself on her. The second assault is more vague, and ostensibly far more sexual in nature.

What is the summary of The House on Mango Street? ›

"The House on Mango Street" Summary

Set in Humboldt Park, "The House on Mango Street" is a coming-of-age story that shares one year in the life of Esperanza Cordero, a young Chicana struggling with questions of identity. Living in a Latinx neighborhood, Esperanza attempts to come to terms with her surroundings.

Who Assaulted Esperanza? ›

Summary: “What Sally Said”

She tells Esperanza that one time her father beat her with his hands instead of with a belt.

Does Esperanza marry Miguel? ›

Eventually, though, Esperanza realized that she and Miguel could never get married, because she was the daughter of the ranch owner, and he was the son of a housekeeper.

What is Esperanza's last name? ›

Answer and Explanation: Esperanza's last name is Ortega. She lives on a ranch with her mother and father, Sixto and Ramona Ortega. Esperanza's father is killed at the beginning of the story, which causes her and her mother to travel to the United States.

Who married Sally? ›

Sally Acorn (Light Mobius)
Queen Sally Alicia Acorn
Biographical information
RelativesMaximillian Acorn (father) Sonic the Hedgehog (husband) Manik Acorn (son) Sonia Acorn (daughter) Shadow the Hedgehog (ex-husband) Maximillian Acorn (father) Sonic the Hedgehog (husband) Manik Acorn (son) Sonia Acorn (daughter)
AliasSal
7 more rows

Why does Sally's father beat her? ›

What happened to Sally? Why does Sally's father abuse her? Sally's father is strictly religious and is ashamed that his sisters ran away from home. He is afraid that Sally will do the same thing so every time he sees her looking/talking to a boy he beats her.

What do red clowns symbolize? ›

The red clowns symbolize fear . Red is a dark, scary color and clowns are something considered to be scary by tons of people.

What is the main theme of The House on Mango Street? ›

The struggle for self-definition is a common theme in a coming-of-age novel, or bildungsroman, and in The House on Mango Street, Esperanza's struggle to define herself underscores her every action and encounter.

Why does Esperanza hate her name? ›

Summary. The name Esperanza means "hope," but she hates her name. She feels it means "sadness, it means waiting." She explains that it was her great-grandmother's name--a woman who was born in the Chinese Year of the horse, like Esperanza.

What statement best describes the point of view in The House on Mango Street? ›

What statement best describes the point of view in the novel The House on Mango Street? The novel is told by a single evolving character as she summarizes and observes those around her.

When was Esperanza raped? ›

Chapter 39 Summary: “Red Clowns”

Esperanza poetically describes being sexually assaulted by a boy at a carnival under the laughing red clowns and tilt-a-whirl ride.

What does Sally's father fear? ›

Sally's father is afraid that Sally will run away like her sisters did and bring more shame to the family. He also may be afraid that she will not get involved with a boy.

What vignette does Esperanza get raped? ›

In the vignette “Red Clowns,” Esperanza is remembering an incident at the carnival which appears to be a sexual assault, but the writing style deliberately obscures what happened.

Why was Esperanza's Papa killed? ›

When Papa is killed by bandits, it's not because he was a bad boss. It's because he was being grouped together with the other wealthy landowners. Papa's death is especially tragic because he was a loving and affectionate father and husband. Esperanza, Mama, and Miguel are all devastated.

How long did Papa's funeral last? ›

Papa's funeral lasts for three days.

Why did Miguel take Esperanza's money? ›

Why did Miguel take Esperanza's money orders? He needed food on his trip to northern California.

Is Esperanza male or female name? ›

Esperanza is a feminine name of Spanish origins that is sure to keep baby's spirits high.

What is Esperanza ashamed of? ›

Esperanza is ashamed of her family's poverty, and describes several instances in which she lies, or tries to hide the fact that she is poor, by saying she lives in a different house, or hiding her unattractive shoes under the table at a party.

What does Esperanza love the most? ›

She relishes the power the shoes seem to give her, and she plays with the idea that physical beauty could help her escape the squalor of her surroundings.

Did Sally and Danny get married? ›

He and Sally worked together for a while and became romantically involved. They even got engaged and had a wedding – but their big day didn't quite go as planned.

Does Poseidon still love Sally? ›

She can see through The Mist.

Smitten by her intelligence and kindness, Poseidon still considers Sally one of his favorite mortals to this day.

Why did Sally and Danny break up? ›

Sally later confesses to her ex-fiancé, Danny Hargreaves (Richard Standing), that she and Kevin slept together on the eve of his wedding to Alison, and Danny leaves her and the Street.

What is the meaning of eyes like Egypt? ›

In this piece of figurative language, Esperanza is comparing Sally's eyes to Egypt and her nylons as dark as the color of smoke, which also means that she is very beautiful. The theme to this section is that you can make the best of life by doing many things. Going out to get to know the world and people.

What is the significance of Geraldo no last name? ›

The central idea of "Geraldo No Last Name" likely centers around the end of the story, where readers discover that not only has Geraldo died due to a freak-accident (a hit-and-run), but in many ways his death is even more tragic because he died a sort of stranger surrounded by strangers, his true self unknown.

How does Esperanza feel about her marriage? ›

She did not want to get married but was forced into marriage and never forgave her husband. She spent her life gazing sadly out the window. Esperanza says that while she has inherited her great-grandmother's name, she does not want to “inherit her place by the window.”

Who is the antagonist in house on Mango Street? ›

Protagonist / Antagonist

Esperanza, the protagonist, has no real antagonist except, perhaps, herself. The story concerns her journey to maturity. Conflicts in the story often arise because of Esperanza's misunderstanding of herself.

What is the monkey garden a symbol of? ›

The monkey garden becomes a symbol of the Garden of Eden in the Bible – a magical, perfect place where everything is innocent, but where something happens that causes a loss of innocence.

What do the linoleum roses represent? ›

simile- "the ceiling smooth as wedding cake." symbolism- the linoleum roses represent how Sally's new life seems better after the marriage but in reality it's just the same as before.

What is a theme of the story? ›

A literary theme is the main idea or underlying meaning a writer explores in a novel, short story, or other literary work. The theme of a story can be conveyed using characters, setting, dialogue, plot, or a combination of all of these elements.

What is the moral of The House on Mango Street? ›

The author of this book is by Sandra Cisneros. The moral lesson that this book teaches you is that you always belong even if you don't feel like you do. The House on Mango Street isn't just an ordinary book.

Why is identity important in House on Mango Street? ›

The House on Mango Street also presents identity and autonomy in terms of culture and gender. The book is about coming of age as a Chicana, and it portrays the experiences of building a cultural identity in the face of suffering and prejudice.

How did Esperanza get her name? ›

Esperanza, the narrator, reveals her name for the first time. She explains that it means “hope” in English, but in Spanish it means “sadness” and “waiting.” She got the name from her great-grandmother, and they were both born in the Chinese year of the horse.

What does the house on Mango Street say about gender? ›

In The House on Mango Street, gender is portrayed as a social construction – something that people learn as they grow up, not something they're born with. Men have it easy on Mango Street – it's much easier for the male characters of the novel to live up to the gender role prescribed for them than it is for women.

Why does Esperanza still consider herself to be rich? ›

Q. Why does Esperanza still consider herself to be rich? Because she is the daughter of the owners of El Rancho De Las Rosas. Because her Abuelita has money and she hopes she will arrive soon to purchase a house for them.

How does the narrator feel about her mother in hairs? ›

What are the narrator's feelings for her mother? Strongly and devout devotion for her mother.

What happens at the end of The House on Mango Street? ›

Esperanza spends time with Alicia at the end of The House on Mango Street, instead of with Sally, who has married and dropped out of middle school. Alicia is pursuing her own form of escape by working hard to attend college, and she has not married.

How does Esperanza feel about her mother? ›

(TS) Esperanza is seen to think fondly and highly of her mother through the description of her mom's hair. (CD) For example, Esperanza says, “My mother's hair . . . sweet to put your nose into when she is holding you and you feel safe, is the warm smell of bread before you bake it” (Cisneros 6).

What is Esperanza's first job? ›

The First Job

Esperanza has been planning to get a job to help pay her tuition at Catholic high school, but she's caught off guard the day Aunt Lala comes over and tells her to show up for work at the Peter Pan Photo Finishers.

What happens in Esperanza Rising? ›

The novel focuses on Esperanza, the only daughter of wealthy Mexican parents, and follows the events that occur after her father's murder. Esperanza, her mother, and their former household servants flee to California with no money during the Great Depression, where they find agricultural work that pays very little.

What do the three sisters tell Esperanza at the wake? ›

The sisters can tell that Esperanza is uncomfortable at the wake and call her over to talk to her. They compliment Esperanza on her name and tell her she is special and that she will go far. They tell her to make a wish, so Esperanza does, and then they tell her it will come true.

What do the four skinny trees symbolize? ›

In “Four Skinny Trees,” Esperanza personifies the trees in her front yard, saying she and they understand each other, even that they teach her things. She relates to the trees because they don't seem to belong in the neighborhood and because they persevere despite the concrete that tries to keep them in the ground.

Why does the old man kiss Esperanza? ›

Esperanza feels less nervous around him, but then the man asks Esperanza for a kiss, because he says it's his birthday.

What is Esperanza ashamed of? ›

Esperanza is ashamed of her family's poverty, and describes several instances in which she lies, or tries to hide the fact that she is poor, by saying she lives in a different house, or hiding her unattractive shoes under the table at a party.

What does Esperanza want most in her life? ›

Esperanza represents the females of her poor and impoverished neighborhood who wish to change and better themselves. She desires both sexuality and autonomy of marriage, hoping to break the typical life cycle of woman in her family and neighborhood.

Why was Esperanza's papa killed? ›

When Papa is killed by bandits, it's not because he was a bad boss. It's because he was being grouped together with the other wealthy landowners. Papa's death is especially tragic because he was a loving and affectionate father and husband. Esperanza, Mama, and Miguel are all devastated.

How did Esperanza's mom get sick? ›

The doctor says that Mama has Valley Fever, a disease of the lungs caused by dust spores.

What was Esperanza's big realization? ›

Esperanza's final and most important awakening is her realization of her writing ability, which gives her the means to escape from Mango Street.

Who married Sally? ›

Sally Acorn (Light Mobius)
Queen Sally Alicia Acorn
Biographical information
RelativesMaximillian Acorn (father) Sonic the Hedgehog (husband) Manik Acorn (son) Sonia Acorn (daughter) Shadow the Hedgehog (ex-husband) Maximillian Acorn (father) Sonic the Hedgehog (husband) Manik Acorn (son) Sonia Acorn (daughter)
AliasSal
7 more rows

Why doesn't Esperanza feel like she belongs? ›

We're beginning to understand what it is that makes Esperanza feel so different from everyone else on Mango Street. For one thing, she's unwilling to conform to the expectations placed on her by her gender. Like it or not, Esperanza has to face the fact that her experiences on Mango Street have shaped her identity.

Why did Esperanza's mother quit school? ›

Esperanza's mother said she quit school because she was ashamed of the clothes she wore, which were not as nice as the other kid's clothes.

What do the linoleum roses represent? ›

simile- "the ceiling smooth as wedding cake." symbolism- the linoleum roses represent how Sally's new life seems better after the marriage but in reality it's just the same as before.

What do hips symbolize in The House on Mango Street? ›

Answer and Explanation: Hips symbolize femininity. It acts as a scientific form of distinguishing mark of difference between men and women after death as the hip bones are used to identify male skeletons from the females. The narrator wants hips and to know how to utilize them in the way she walks.

What are the main themes of The House on Mango Street? ›

The struggle for self-definition is a common theme in a coming-of-age novel, or bildungsroman, and in The House on Mango Street, Esperanza's struggle to define herself underscores her every action and encounter.

Videos

1. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros | Chapters 21–24
(Course Hero)
2. The House on Mango Street LA Project Summary
(xSnowstorm102x)
3. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros | Chapters 17–20
(Course Hero)
4. “Never Marry a Mexican”: Theme Analysis & Summary | Free Essay Sample
(IvyPanda Study Hub)
5. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros | Chapters 13–16
(Course Hero)
6. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros | Chapters 41–44
(Course Hero)

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