The House on Mango Street
Esperanza describes how her family came to live at the house on Mango Street. She, her parents, her brothers, Carlos and Kiki, and her sister, Nenny, moved to Mango Street when the pipes broke in their previous apartment and the landlord refused to fix them. Before they moved into the house on Mango Street, the family moved around a lot. The family had dreamed of a white house with lots of space and bathrooms, but the house on Mango Street has only one bedroom and one bathroom. Esperanza notes that this is not the house that she envisioned, and although her parents tell her it’s only temporary, she doubts they’ll move anytime soon. The house, however, does have some significant advantages over the family’s previous apartments. 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. The house on Mango Street is an improvement, but it is still not the house that Esperanza wants to point out as hers.
Esperanza describes the different types of hair of all the members of her family. Her own hair doesn’t do what she wants it to do, while her sister’s is smooth and oily. Her mother’s hair is beautiful and smells like bread. Esperanza likes to sleep near her mother so she can smell it.
Boys and Girls
Esperanza notes that boys and girls do not socialize with each other in the neighborhood. Even though she can talk to her brothers at home, they refuse to talk to her outside. 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. Worse, Nenny is Esperanza’s responsibility. Esperanza has to make sure that Nenny does not play with the Vargas kids. Esperanza longs for a best friend. Without one she compares herself to a “red balloon tied to an anchor.”
We learn the narrator’s name, Esperanza, for the first time. Esperanza muses on the meanings of her name, but she does so in a random, nonsensical way that we are not meant to take seriously. In English, she reflects, her name means “hope,” while in Spanish it means “too many letters” as well as “sadness” and “waiting.” She likes the way her name is pronounced in Spanish, but not in English.
Esperanza is named after her great-grandmother, and both she and her great-grandmother were born in the Chinese year of the horse. The horse is an animal that represents strength, and being born under this sign is supposed to be bad luck for women. Esperanza rejects this superstition, explaining that she believes both the Chinese and the Mexicans discourage women from being strong. Esperanza never met her great-grandmother, but she compares her to a wild horse. 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.”
Esperanza would like to change her name to one that expresses her true self. She lists several possible choices, settling eventually on Zeze the X.
Cathy Queen of Cats
Cathy becomes Esperanza’s first friend in her new neighborhood. Cathy claims to be related to the queen of France and hopes to go to France someday to inherit the family house. She tells Esperanza about the other people on Mango Street and disparages nearly all of them. She agrees to be Esperanza’s friend only for a week, until next Tuesday, when her family will move. She offends Esperanza by telling her that her family is moving because the neighborhood is getting bad, when clearly what makes it bad is that families like Esperanza’s are moving in.
Our Good Day
Esperanza sacrifices her friendship with Cathy by pitching in for a bike that she will share with her two new friends, Lucy and Rachel. Cathy does not want Esperanza to have anything to do with Lucy and Rachel, explaining that they “smell like a broom.” Lucy and Rachel are Chicana sisters whose family is from Texas, and they are more similar to Esperanza than Cathy is. Esperanza is embarrassed to tell her new friends her name, but they don’t laugh at it or find it unusual. Esperanza knows she eventually must share her friends and bike with her sister Nenny, since she took money from Nenny to help pay for the bike, but for now, she decides to wait and keep her new friends to herself. The three girls ride their new bike together around the block, and Esperanza describes the geography of the neighborhood.
Esperanza explains that although she and Nenny do not look alike as Lucy and Rachel do, they do have a lot in common. They laugh in the same, loud way, and sometimes they have the same ideas. One day Esperanza sees a house that reminds her of houses in Mexico, although she can’t say exactly why. Rachel and Lucy laugh at her, but Nenny tells them she was thinking the same thing as Esperanza.
Gil’s Furniture Bought & Sold
In Esperanza’s neighborhood, an old black man runs a junk store, and he doesn’t turn on the lights unless he knows his customers have money. Esperanza and Nenny wander around the store in the dark. The store is labyrinthine and full of mysterious items, as well as piles of broken televisions. This is the store where Esperanza’s family bought their refrigerator when they moved into the neighborhood. Esperanza is afraid to talk to the owner and only does so when she buys a little Statue of Liberty. Nenny is not intimidated by him, and one day she asks him about a wooden box in the shop. It is a music box, and the man plays it for them. Esperanza finds the music surprising and emotional. Nenny tries to buy the box, but the man tells her it’s not for sale.
Meme, whose real name is Juan, and his dog, who has both English and Spanish names, move into Cathy’s house after her family leaves the neighborhood. Esperanza describes the house, a wooden house Cathy’s father built. It has a tree in the backyard that is taller than Esperanza’s house. When the kids had a Tarzan jumping contest, Meme jumped out of the tree and broke both his arms.
Louie, His Cousin & His Other Cousin
Meme Ortiz’s family rents their basement apartment to a Puerto Rican family. The family’s son Louie is a friend of Esperanza’s brother. Louie’s cousin Marin also lives with the family in the basement. Marin is older than Esperanza and wears nylons and Avon makeup, which she also sells in her free time. She sings sassy songs about boyfriends while she baby-sits Louie’s little sisters. One day, another cousin of Louie’s drives up in a beautiful new Cadillac and takes the neighborhood kids for a ride. They go around the block again and again, until they hear sirens. Louie’s cousin orders everyone out and takes off in the car. He doesn’t quite make the turn at the end of the alley, though, and crashes into a streetlight. The cops arrest him.
Louie’s cousin Marin has a boyfriend in Puerto Rico whom she plans to marry when she goes back. At the same time, she hopes to stay in Chicago next year so she can get a job downtown. She hopes to meet a rich man on the subway who will marry her and take her to live outside the barrio. 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 spends her days baby-sitting Louie’s sisters, and in the evening, she takes her radio outside and dances, smokes cigarettes, and waits for boys to come by. Esperanza notes that she does not seem afraid of the boys. The section ends with a description of Marin in the future somewhere else. She is still dancing under a streetlight, waiting for a man to swoop down and change her life.
Those Who Don’t
Esperanza says that people “who don’t know any better” think her neighborhood is dangerous, and that if they find themselves in it at night, they fear they’ll get stabbed. Esperanza and her friends are never scared in the neighborhood, since they know the people outsiders might find frightening, including the man with the crooked eye, the tall intimidating man in the hat, and a large retarded man. However, Esperanza notes that when she enters a non-Chicano ethnic neighborhood, she herself gets scared.
There Was an Old Woman She Had So Many Children She Didn’t Know What to Do
Esperanza describes the Vargas kids, whom she described earlier as being bad. They have a single mother, Rosa Vargas, who is overwhelmed by and unable to control her many children, and who is still sad about the fact that their father left her without a note or any money to help. The children don’t care about themselves or anybody else. At first the people in the neighborhood feel bad for the children and try to make them stop misbehaving, but eventually the people become tired of trying and stop caring. They don’t care when the children hurt themselves, even when Angel Vargas falls from a great height and dies.
Alicia Who Sees Mice
Alicia is a neighborhood girl whose mother has died. She must do all the cooking and cleaning for her father. Alicia is also trying to attend college, traveling far on public transportation every day so she can escape a life of domestic toil. She stays up all night studying and thus sees the mice that come out at night. Her father gives her a hard time about her studies. He says the mice don’t exist and that a woman’s job is to get up early to make tortillas for her younger siblings’ lunches.
Darius and the Clouds
Esperanza complains about living in the inner city, saying there is not enough sky or flowers or butterflies. Yet the children in the neighborhood make the best of what they have. One day, when the sky is full of puffy clouds that everyone is admiring, Darius, a boy Esperanza doesn’t like because he tries to be tough, says something Esperanza finds wise: he looks up at a particular cloud and calls it God.
And Some More
A conversation about clouds between Esperanza, Nenny, Lucy, and Rachel turns into a fight. Esperanza says the Eskimos have thirty different names for snow, which leads them into a discussion about names for clouds. Esperanza knows two names: cumulus and nimbus. She is concerned with the actual names, while Nenny makes up lists of everyday names, such as Lisa and Ted. Nenny does this throughout the story and refuses to respond to her sister or to her friends while they are fighting. Rachel and Lucy are more interested in what the clouds are similar to in their everyday lives, like hair after it’s been brushed or their friend’s fat face. One of the girls says Esperanza has an ugly fat face, and after this the girls playfully exchange creative insults.
The Family of Little Feet
Esperanza imagines a family of people with tiny, plump feet. Her description of the fairy-tale family merges into an account of a day when a woman gives her, Nenny, Rachel, and Lucy some old pairs of high-heeled shoes that happen to fit their small feet perfectly. The girls are amazed at these shoes because when they put them on, they suddenly have attractive, womanly legs. Some of their male neighbors warn them that such suggestive shoes are not meant for little girls, but the girls ignore them. Other men tease them with sexual comments. The shoes cause a flirtation between Rachel and a drunken bum. He asks her to kiss him for a dollar. Frightened, Lucy leads the girls back to Mango Street. They hide the shoes on Rachel and Lucy’s porch, and later Rachel and Lucy’s mother throws them away. The girls are glad the shoes are gone.
A Rice Sandwich
Esperanza envies the kids who get to eat lunch in the canteen at school instead of having to go home for lunch. She pesters her mother to write her a note giving her permission to eat at the canteen and to pack her a lunch. Her mother is reluctant at first, but after it becomes clear that none of the other kids will need bag lunches, she writes a note for Esperanza and packs her a sandwich, one made of rice since the family cannot afford lunch meats. At school, Sister Superior does not accept Esperanza’s mother’s note, saying that Esperanza lives too close to school and must go home to eat. The Sister points to some rundown tenements up the street, accusing Esperanza of living there. Esperanza is embarrassed and nods her head, even though the buildings the nun points to are much more rundown than her own house. She gets to eat at the canteen that day but is too upset to enjoy the experience.
For Esperanza’s cousin’s baptism, Esperanza’s mother buys her a beautiful new outfit but forgets to buy the shoes that go with it. At the party after the baptism, Esperanza refuses to dance because she is embarrassed by her old brown saddle shoes. Her Uncle Nacho insists she is beautiful, and the two of them do a fancy new dance while everyone watches and applauds. Esperanza is proud that one particular boy watches her dance.
Esperanza, Nenny, Lucy, and Rachel jump rope and discuss the meaning of the hips they are beginning to develop. Rachel says that hips are good for propping a baby on while cooking, but Esperanza thinks this idea is unimaginative. Lucy says that hips are for dancing, while Nenny, who is too young to understand what it’s like to develop hips, says that without them, you might turn into a man. Esperanza defends Nenny, then tries to give a scientific explanation about the purpose of hips that she gleaned from Alicia. Esperanza begins to believe hips have a musical quality. Rachel, Lucy, and Esperanza make up original chants about hips while dancing and jumping rope. Nenny repeats a rhyme she already knows, embarrassing Esperanza with her childishness.
The First Job
Esperanza’s family wants her to get a summer job. She has been spending her days playing in the street and plans to begin looking sometime in the near future. One day, when she comes home after she lets a boy push her into the water from the open fire hydrant, she discovers that her aunt has found her a job matching pictures with negatives at the local photofinishing store. Esperanza just has to show up and lie about her age. The actual work is easy, but the social aspects of the job are difficult for Esperanza. She doesn’t know whether she can sit down. She eats her lunch in the bathroom and takes her break in the coatroom. In the afternoon, a man Esperanza describes as older and Oriental befriends her. Esperanza feels more comfortable now that she has someone to eat lunch with. He asks her to give him a kiss because it’s his birthday, but when Esperanza leans over to kiss him on the cheek he grabs her face and kisses her hard on the lips for a long time.
Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark
Esperanza’s father tells her that her grandfather, or abuelito, has died. He cries, which is astounding for Esperanza to see. He will have to go to Mexico for the funeral, and Esperanza will have to explain to her younger siblings that they will not be able to play or go out today. Esperanza tries to imagine what it would be like if her father, who wakes up every morning before sunrise to go to work, died. She holds her father in her arms.
Esperanza and her friends Rachel and Lucy pray for themselves because they played a game that made fun of Esperanza’s Aunt Lupe just before she died. Aunt Lupe was a strong and beautiful swimmer in her youth, but for all of Esperanza’s life, she was bedridden and sick. The game consisted of the girls imitating someone they all knew. They usually imitated famous people, but one day they picked Lupe. Although Esperanza was afraid to visit Lupe, she liked her. She would bring library books and read to Lupe, and one day she whispered one of her own poems in Lupe’s ear. Aunt Lupe told Esperanza that she should keep writing because it would keep her free. Out on the schoolyard it was different, and Esperanza and her friends took turns imitating Lupe, not knowing she would die the next day. For this transgression, Esperanza believes she will go to hell.
Elenita, Cards, Palm, Water
Esperanza has her fortune told at the house of Elenita, a witch woman. Elenita seems very much like the other women in the neighborhood, except that she is somewhat better off. She is home with her two kids and has covered her sofas with plastic so the baby won’t dirty them. She tries to get Esperanza to see something in a glass of water, but Esperanza can’t really concentrate or believe in the spirits. Esperanza pays more attention to the Bugs Bunny cartoon in the background. Elenita puts out the Tarot cards and sees jealousy, sorrow, and luxury. Esperanza just wants to know whether Elenita sees a house in her future, but Elenita sees only a house of the heart. Esperanza pays Elenita five dollars and goes home disappointed.
Geraldo No Last Name
Marin meets a young man named Geraldo at a dance and dances with him a few times. After they leave the dance hall, a car strikes Geraldo, who speaks no English. He dies in the emergency room because no doctors come to help him. Marin has stayed with him at the hospital, although she does not know why. She has to answer the police’s questions, but she can’t tell them much. She doesn’t even know Geraldo’s last name. Esperanza imagines Geraldo’s life—a series of run-down apartments and demeaning jobs to send money back home to Mexico. She also imagines the people in Geraldo’s community in Mexico, who will wonder what became of him and will not know he is dead.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No Speak English
Mamacita is the wife of one of Esperanza’s neighbors. Her husband works very hard to bring her and her child to Mango Street, but once Mamacita arrives, she never leaves the house. She misses Mexico and refuses to assimilate. She is hugely fat, but Esperanza also finds her beautiful. She sits by the window, listens to Spanish radio, and wishes to go home. Some people think she never leaves her room because she is too fat or because she cannot get down the three flights of stairs, but Esperanza believes she refuses to come down because she doesn’t speak any English. Esperanza’s father explains how hard it is to live in the United States without knowing English, saying that when he first arrived, the only food he knew was “hamandeggs,” so he had to eat hamandeggs three times a day. The final blow for Mamacita is that her child, whom she has brought with her from Mexico, learns English. It breaks her heart that even he insists upon speaking this ugly language that she cannot understand.
Rafaela Who Drinks Coconut & Papaya Juice on Tuesdays
On Tuesdays, when Rafaela’s husband has his poker game, he locks her in their third-floor apartment because she is so beautiful, he’s afraid she’ll escape. She spends these afternoons and evenings leaning out the window, which makes her prematurely old. She wants to go dance at the bar down the street while she is still young, but instead she has to drop a dollar out of the window so that Esperanza and her friends can buy her some coconut or papaya juice at the store, which Rafaela then hauls up on a clothesline. At the bar, women who are older than Rafaela are allowed to dance and flirt, but each risks being imprisoned in the same way as Rafaela.
Sally is extremely beautiful. She wears Cleopatra makeup, nylons, and short skirts. At school she leans against the fence, and all the boys spread vicious gossip about her. Sally’s father thinks her beauty is dangerous and doesn’t let her out of the house, but Esperanza thinks Sally is wonderful and would like to be her new best friend. She wants to learn to line her eyes as Sally does. Esperanza understands that Sally wishes she didn’t have to go home after school so she wouldn’t have to worry about her father, gossip, or not belonging.
Minerva Writes Poems
Minerva is only two years older than Esperanza, but she is married with two children. Her husband has left her, but he sometimes returns, only to leave again. At night, after the children go to bed and she is alone, Minerva writes poems. She shares her poems with Esperanza, and Esperanza shares hers. However, Minerva also continues to take her husband back, even when he beats her. She visits Esperanza one night after being beaten up and asks for advice, but Esperanza cannot offer any. She doesn’t know what will happen to Minerva.
Bums in the Attic
Esperanza wants a nice suburban house with a garden, like the ones where her father works. On the weekends, the family visits these houses and dreams about moving there. Esperanza has stopped going with her family. She, too, would like to live in one of those houses, but she is tired of looking at what she cannot have. She imagines that when she owns one of these houses in the future, she will not forget where she is from. When bums pass her house she will invite them in and give them a place to live in her attic, because she knows, she says, “how it is to be without a house.” When people think that the squeaking in the attic is rats, she will shake her head and say it is bums.
Beautiful & Cruel
Esperanza worries that she is unattractive and that her looks will leave her stuck at home. Her sister, who is more attractive, wants a husband to take her away, but she doesn’t want to leave by having a baby with just any man, as Minerva’s sister did. Esperanza’s mother comforts Esperanza by saying she will be more beautiful as she gets older, but Esperanza has decided not to wait around for a husband to take her away. Instead, she wants to be like the femme fatales in movies who drive the men crazy and then refuse them. These women do not give their power away. Esperanza’s way of beginning to be like this is to leave the dinner table like a man, without pushing in her chair or doing her dishes.
A Smart Cookie
Esperanza’s mother complains that she could have done something with her life. She has many skills—she can speak two languages, sing, draw, and fix a television—but she does not know how to use the subway. While making a family meal, Esperanza’s mother sings along to a Madame Butterfly record she has borrowed from the public library. She tells Esperanza that she needs to be able to take care of herself and not just rely on a man. She gives as examples two of her friends, one whose husband has left and the other who is a widow. Then she describes how when she was younger she dropped out of school, not because she lacked intelligence, but because she was ashamed about not having nice clothes. She seems disgusted with her young self and tells Esperanza not to be like she was.
What Sally Said
Sally’s father beats her. She comes to school bruised and says she fell, but it’s easy to see she’s been beaten. She tells Esperanza that one time her father beat her with his hands instead of with a belt. Sally’s father is afraid she’ll run off with a man and bring shame to the family like his sisters did. At one point Sally asks to come and stay with Esperanza’s family. She brings over a bag and prepares to move in, but that evening her father comes by with tears in his eyes. He apologizes and asks her to come home. She does, and she is safe for a while. However, one day Sally’s father sees Sally talking to a boy. He beats her with a belt and then with his fists. She is injured so badly that she misses two days of school.
The Monkey Garden
A family with a pet monkey moves away, and the neighborhood kids take over the garden behind their house. The garden quickly becomes a dump for old cars and other trash, but to the children it is a magical place where anything is possible. They explore it, looking for the old, lost things the garden keeps. One day Esperanza is there with Sally. Esperanza wants to run around with the boys, but Sally stays to the side. She does not like to get her stockings dirty, and she plays a more grown-up game by talking to the boys. Tito, a neighborhood boy, steals Sally’s keys, and he and his friends tell her that she has to kiss all of them to get them back. Sally agrees, and they go behind an old car. Esperanza wants to save Sally from being exploited this way, so she runs to tell Tito’s mother what the boys are doing. His mother doesn’t care, and Esperanza sets out to save Sally herself. Arming herself with a brick, she confronts the boys. Sally and the boys laugh at her and tell her to go away. Esperanza hides beneath a tree and tries to will her heart to stop. When she finally gets up she looks at her feet, which look clunky and unfamiliar. The garden seems unfamiliar too.
Esperanza narrates this section after she has been sexually assaulted by a group of boys, and though she gives her impressions and expresses her confusion, she never specifies exactly what the boys do to her. We know Esperanza goes to a carnival with Sally and that she enjoys watching Sally on the rides. Sally seems careless and free, and at one point she disappears with an older boy. While Esperanza waits for Sally to return, a group of non-Latino boys attacks Esperanza. 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 is traumatized and keeps hearing the voice of one of the boys saying mockingly, “I love you, Spanish girl.” She blames Sally for abandoning her and not being there to save her, and her anger spreads to all the women who have not told her what sex is really like.
Sally marries before the end of the year. She marries a much older salesman who has to take her to another state where it is legal to marry girls who are under fourteen. Esperanza believes Sally married to escape her house. Sally claims to be happy because her husband sometimes gives her money, but her husband sometimes becomes violent and angry as well. He does not let her go out, talk on the phone, see her friends, or even look out the window. Sally spends her days sitting at home and looking at the domestic objects around her.
The Three Sisters
Lucy and Rachel’s baby sister dies. The neighborhood gathers in Lucy and Rachel’s house to view the baby before she is buried. Three of the guests are old aunts. Esperanza finds them fascinating and thinks they are magical. 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. One of the women takes Esperanza aside and tells her that even though she will be able to leave, she should come back for the others. She has guessed Esperanza’s wish, and Esperanza feels guilty for wishing for such a selfish thing. The woman tells her she will always be Mango Street.
Alicia & I Talking on Edna’s Steps
Esperanza is jealous of Alicia because she has a town to call home, Guadalajara, and she will return there someday. Alicia observes that Esperanza already has a home. But Esperanza shakes her head. She does not want to have lived in the house for a year, or to come from Mango Street. She declares that she will never come back to Mango Street until someone makes it better. Then Alicia asks who will make it better, suggesting the mayor as a possibility. The girls laugh because the idea of the mayor coming to Mango Street is so far outside the realm of possibility.
A House of My Own
Esperanza describes the qualities and parts of her ideal house: picturesque, not belonging to a man, flowers in front, a porch, and her shoes beside the bed. She describes the house as safe and full of potential, “clean as paper before the poem.”
Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes
Esperanza defines herself as a storyteller. She frames the story by saying she is going to tell the audience a story about a girl who did not want to belong. She repeats the paragraph from the first chapter about having not always lived on Mango Street, naming the other streets she has lived on. The house on Mango Street is the one she remembers the most. When she writes about it, she is able to free herself from the house’s grip. She knows that one day she will pack her books and writing materials and leave Mango Street, but she will have left only to come back for the others who cannot get out on their own.