Gil's Furniture Bought and Sold Summary: This chapter is about Esperanza and Nenny's explorations of Gil's junk store. One day when Angel Vargas is teaching them to whistle, Ruthie comes up and whistles beautifully. She seems disgusted with her young self and tells Esperanza not to be like she was. Cordero pays attention to her appearance: she keeps her hair in pincurls all day. The teacher accuses Esperanza of living in the tenements just down the street, which are in much worse condition than the house she actually lives in, but she does not bother to make the correction.
She desperately wishes a better life for her daughter and tells her so. Esperanza explains the separation of boys and girls in her neighborhood. The narrator's name, Esperanza Codero, is not revealed in the first chapter. The black owner watches them quietly through his glasses until Nenny asks him about a wooden box. One of the most important themes of The House on Mango Street is the power of words. Esperanza especially hates living in the city because she cannot see enough of the sky, the clouds, or the butterflies and there are not enough flowers around.
At the party after the baptism, Esperanza refuses to dance because she is embarrassed by her old brown saddle shoes. Esperanza envies Sally and wants to be her friend and learn to do her makeup the way that Sally does. Esperanza, Nenny, Lucy, and Rachel jump rope and discuss the meaning of the hips they are beginning to develop. Elenita puts out the Tarot cards and sees jealousy, sorrow, and luxury. Esperanza feels more comfortable now that she has someone to eat lunch with. When her grandfather passes away Esperanza sees her father cry for the first time and is the person who holds him and comforts him, bringing her closer to him than ever before, and her mother pushes her to reach for the stars and never to settle. She has questions about her culture, race, sexuality, future, and poverty.
He has two dogs that have a lot of energy and possibly make more noise than the kids do. She remembers lying in bed with Mama, feeling safe and smelling her skin and her hair. Esperanza is named after her great-grandmother, and both she and her great-grandmother were born in the Chinese year of the horse. The family owns this house, so they are no longer subject to the whims of landlords, and at the old apartment, a nun made Esperanza feel ashamed about where she lived. That's when we move away. Her father's suggestion that her existence should be sleep and housework manifest the sexist ideal that a higher education is wasted on a woman.
The fact that Carlos and Kiki will not speak to their sisters outside the house, even though they have plenty to say when at home, strikes Esperanza as fake, a custom she finds silly. A Difference Esperanza keenly observes the struggles of Hispanic Americans who wish to preserve the essence of their heritage while striving to forge productive lives within American culture. Through her poignant imagery, Esperanza hints at the dangers of failing to see others as human beings. Soon after, he beats her again, even more severely. Having a house of her own, thus, is a metaphor for coming into her own place as an independent woman. The families in the neighborhood are from different countries, but all live together in their little bubble of a community on Mango Street.
The chapter ends with the narrator's denial that the house on Mango Street was the dream house, and her doubts in her parents' promises of a better home in the future. Esperanza notes that boys and girls do not socialize with each other in the neighborhood. She eats at the canteen but is extremely upset, and embarrassed so she does not enjoy the experience. No matter who you are, you feel at risk in an unfamiliar neighborhood or if you are the racial minority. Her parents are almost like children in her eyes: she seems to know more about life than they do. She sees through her parents' wishful thinking in an almost cynical way her father talks about the house they will get as he holds a lottery ticket. Esperanza wishes that she could eat lunch at the canteen with some of the other kids instead of having to go home for lunch, so she convinces her mother to write her a permission note and pack her a lunch.
She does not wish to ever return to Mango Street until it is a better place, though there is no one to make it better. Esperanza just wants to know whether Elenita sees a house in her future, but Elenita sees only a house of the heart. The poignancy of the dialogue is the result of the simple and straightforward language, making the recorded encounters as realistic as possible. She declares that she will never come back to Mango Street until someone makes it better. Esperanza must socialize with her younger sister Nenny, who, Esperanza notes, is too young and would not be her choice for a friend if she were not her sister.
Though she does not always want to belong to this environment, she realizes that her roots are too strong to resist. The only families in the neighborhood that actually seem like supportive and loving families are those of Esperanza and her friends Rachel and Lucy, which is perhaps why they are so close. She longs to travel and find a new home of her own; however, she will always return to help those who could not achieve their dreams. She feels the responsibility deeply and will not forget it. Because of how beautiful Sally is her father makes her stay in the house because he thinks her looks will get her into trouble. The event is nothing like sexual encounters Esperanza has seen in the movies or read in magazines, or even like what Sally has told her. She tries to get Esperanza to see something in a glass of water, but Esperanza can't really concentrate or believe in the spirits.
She tells Esperanza and her friends useful things like how girls get pregnant and how to remove unwanted facial hair, as well as girlish superstitions, such as how the number of calcium deposits on their fingernails corresponds with the number of boys who like them. She realizes, bitterly, that sex and love do not always mix, and that boys are not always romantic. The tragic Mamacita risks losing her identity if she assimilates, like her little grandson, into American culture. She did not want to get married but was forced into marriage and never forgave her husband. Indeed, these physical and worldly issues are metaphors for many of the coming-of-age experiences the narrator will relate in subsequent chapters.
Esperanza's mother complains that she could have done something with her life. And Some More Summary: In this chapter we witness the banter normally exchanged by the Esperanza, Nenny, Lucy and Rachel as they hang around the neighborhood together. Rachel shouts, You got quite a load there too. She laments the attitudes that prevail in her community. The woman tells her she will always be Mango Street.