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Notes on Characters from The House on Mango Street

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The House on Mango Street Major Characters

Esperanza Cordero : Esperanza Cordero is a young Hispanic girl living on Mango Street with her large family. She is embarrassed by her family's current home and constantly wishes to have a new house of her own, far away from the slums of Mango Street. As she grows up, she meets various people indicative of her neighborhood and influential in her growth. She feels like an ugly duckling, loves to write, and wants to protect those who she loves. Esperanza loves to write down all her stories and realizes that even if she escapes to a better life, she must always remember her youth, her upbringing, and the place from which she came: Mango Street.

Nenny: Nenny is Esperanza's little sister and constant companion. Short for Magdalena, Nenny accompanies her sister on her various escapades and experiences on Mango Street, meeting new people and learning new things.

Rachel: Rachel is Lucy's little sister, and has difficulty pronouncing English phrases. She accompanies Nenny and Esperanza through many of their youthful ventures before Esperanza grows up and spends her time with Sally.

Lucy: Lucy is Rachel's older sister and friend of Esperanza. They meet when trying to buy an old bicycle. Lucy, Rachel, Esperanza, and Nenny go on many adventures early on, before they grow up and discover other interests, such as boys and escapes. She claims to come from Texas.

Mama: Mama is Esperanza's mother and a woman of many dreams and wishes for her children. She speaks two languages, can sing opera, and once had greater dreams for herself than simply cooking for other people. She hopes that Esperanza will fulfill all her aspirations.

Papa: Papa is Esperanza's father and the head of the Cordero household. He awakens Esperanza one night in tears over the death of his own father, and constantly wonders why Esperanza wants to escape so much.

Sally: Sally is a beautiful girl in Esperanza's class who comes from a strict religious family. In rebellion, Sally dresses provocatively and paints her eyes like Egypt, earning a foul and risqué reputation. Esperanza befriends Sally, only to be raped because of her loose mentality and uncaring attitude. She gets married before the end of eighth grade and moves away.

Minor Characters

Cathy: Cathy is a wealthier girl who lives on Mango Street before it gets bad and dangerous. She claims to be a cousin of French royalty and owns a multitude of cats. She moves away soon after meeting Esperanza to a better, more affluent neighborhood.

Kiki: Kiki is one of Esperanza's little brothers. He has hair like fur and plays pretty much only with his brother Carlos.

Carlos: Carlos is another of Esperanza's little brothers. His hair is thick and straight and is the best friend of his brother, Kiki.

Great-grandmother Esperanza: Esperanza is named after her wild great-grandmother, who was tamed after marriage. Esperanza never wants to regret her life and decisions like her namesake, and secretly wishes to change her name.

Meme Ortiz: Meme Ortiz moves into Cathy's house after her family leaves. His given name is Juan, but everyone calls him Meme (except his mother). He plays with Esperanza in the trees.

Louie: Louie's family rents the basement of Meme Ortiz's house. He hails from Puerto Rico, where the rest of his family currently lives, and spends time with his cousins, one of whom steals cars.

Marin: Marin in one of Esperanza's early friends and the female cousin of neighbor Louie. She is one of Esperanza's early mentors who is sent away because of her bad and risqué behavior with men and cigarettes. She hails from Puerto Rico and speaks of her boyfriend still living there, and also instructs Esperanza on how to attract men.

Alicia: Alicia is a friend of Esperanza's who is constantly afraid of the mice in her kitchen. She is from Guadalajara and tells Esperanza that she must always remember that her home is Mango Street.

Darius: Darius is one of Esperanza's schoolmates who loves to look up into the sky and dream about the clouds.

Aunt Lupe: Aunt Lupe was a beautiful swimmer one day until she became extremely ill and paralyzed. Esperanza and her friends tease Aunt Lupe one day in front of her, causing their mother to call them evil children.

Elenita: Elenita is the Tarot Card reader who forecasts Esperanza's future. She lives in a fairly nice home and takes care of her infant baby.

Geraldo: Geraldo is a boy with whom Marin danced one evening at a nightclub. He is killed that night and nobody knows who he is, his last name, or anything about him.

Ruthie: Ruthie is Edna's daughter and a tall, attractive would-be dancer. She lives with Edna, despite rumors that she has a husband and a house elsewhere.

Edna: Edna owns the building on Mango Street next to the Corderos. She goes through tenants quickly and gets frustrated with all their actions. Edna does have at least one daughter, Ruthie, who stays with her for a long while.

Earl: Earl lives in Edna's building and is a jukebox repairman from Tennessee. Although he befriends Esperanza and her friends with his music, he brings different women home constantly.

Sire: Sire is a tough guy in the neighborhood who plays with his girl, Lois. Esperanza looks at him like a man she wants to be wrapped around.

Mamacita: Mamacita is an obese Mexican woman who was brought to the neighborhood by her son. She speaks no English and cries constantly about returning home to her country.

Rafaela: Rafaela is a beautiful woman entrapped in a bad marriage. She waits alone all day, looking outside the window. And on Tuesdays, she drops money down to Esperanza and her friends to buy her some Coconut and Papaya Juice.

Minerva: Minerva is a neighbor of Esperanza and only a few years older. She has suffered a difficult life, marrying a man who left her beaten and with two children.

The Three Sisters: The three sisters are the elderly aunts of Rachel and Lucy who visit only once during the funeral of their baby sister. They advise Esperanza to remember her roots and stay true to her family's heritage.

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