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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 5: Cathy, Queen of Cats
Cathy is Esperanza’s neighbor. She explains who is dangerous in the neighborhood, like Joe the baby-grabber, how to act around the men who own the corner store, which girls her age not to play with, and many other things. She gives Esperanza a sense of the neighborhood, past and present. She owns many cats, and says she is the "great great grand cousin of the queen of France." She says she will be Esperanza’s friend until Tuesday, when she moves away, down the street. She claims that one day, her father will fly to France and inherit the family house.
Cathy, like Esperanza, seems to be a dreamer. As Esperanza says, Cathy tells her the neighborhood is getting bad, "as if she forgot I just moved in." Clearly, she would like to distance herself from the impoverished world of Mango Street, believing that she will one day move to France. Esperanza doesn’t seem to realize this, and feels somewhat ashamed of her lack of royal roots. She is fascinated by Cathy, which is unsurprising considering her own dreams of leaving her life behind. Also, she seems to have asked Cathy to be her friend, an indication that she is as lonely as ever. Here we see Esperanza as a young, impressionable girl, being awed by Cathy and seeing none of her flaws (her snobbishness, her know-it-all attitude).
CHAPTER 6: Our Good Day
The sisters Cathy warned her against, Lucy and Rachel, ask Esperanza to give them five dollars so that they can buy a bicycle to share between the three of them. They tell her they will be her friends forever, which Esperanza accepts, taking two dollars from Nenny on her absent behalf. Lucy and Rachel are dirty and sassy, obviously poor, but good-natured. Rachel is bolder and talks more. They don’t laugh when Esperanza tells them her name. Esperanza is nervous and somewhat intimidated by her new friends, but when the three girls pile on the bike and ride around the neighborhood together, she has a lot of fun. They ride through places Esperanza knows are dangerous, and Rachel teases a fat woman. Esperanza, a polite and shy girl, is quietly shocked.
Esperanza makes her first real friends in this chapter. Significantly, they are exactly the two people she has been warned against. This is one of the many times in the book where Esperanza matures by defying, either passively or actively, social norms. Although she has always been shy, she gravitates toward rebels like Rachel and Lucy. Even though she recognizes why her elders would not want her associating with the girls (they are openly poor and "sassy" in a way that Esperanza’s family, presumably, frowns upon), Esperanza herself does not seem to have fully assimilated the values of her superiors. She accepts Lucy and Rachel, and has fun with them--note the chapter title, "Our Good Day."