The House on Mango Street Plot Summary
Esperanza Cordero recollects her life living on Mango Street and all the people she meets while there. Although her family has not always lived there, it is perhaps the most important place she has lived, for it represents her heritage and upbringing. In small vignettes, Esperanza tells the tales of all the people and experiences she has with her little sister, Nenny. She meets Cathy, a wealthier girl who makes Esperanza feels negatively about her home and moves away when the neighborhood gets bad. She meets Sally, a girl with painted makeup like the Egyptian Queens, who comes from a strict religious family who beats her. Sally later becomes a loose woman, lies to Esperanza, and moves away to get married before the end of eighth grade. Esperanza and Nenny become friends with two sisters named Lucy and Rachel (from Texas), with whom they ride bikes and have many adventures. Esperanza is also friends with a girl named Alicia, who is terrified of the rats in her apartment, and later shares her poetry with Esperanza.
Esperanza also discovers boys through several women and men who live on the street. Marin, the girlfriend of Louie, tells her about makeup and nylons, before she is sent away because of bad behavior. Elenita, the fortune teller, informs Esperanza that she desires a large house and has many wishes to fulfill. Rafaela and Ruthie passively instruct Esperanza on how not to marry too young, while her own mother expresses her deep wishes and desires for her to live a better life.
As Esperanza meets people, tries to fit in, feels like an ugly duckling, and craves the touch of a man, she realizes that the neighborhood she hates and the house of which she is ashamed is not terrible. After the three sisters advise her to remember her family and remember where she came from, Esperanza realizes that she will leave Mango Street. However, despite the impending travels and stories she will create and tell, Mango Street will never leave her.