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Free Study Guide-The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros-Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 10: Louie, his Cousin and his other Cousin

Summary

Louie is a Puerto Rican boy who is friends with Esperanza’s brother and lives with his family in the basement of Meme’s house. He has a girl cousin named “Marin or Maris or something like that”; she is older and wears dark nylons and makeup. Louie’s other cousin showed up one day with a big new yellow Cadillac and told everybody to get in. They rode up and down the block until they heard sirens, and then Louie’s cousin told everyone to get out. He drove away quickly but smashed into a lamppost, and the police put handcuffs on him and took him away.

Notes

This chapter introduces Marin, an older girl who seems to know about adult things that fascinate Esperanza, like boys and makeup. She is mysterious: she stands in the doorway singing the same song over and over, but can never come out, because she has to babysit. Louie’s other cousin, whose story is told in this chapter, is another example of the poverty that haunts their neighborhood. He steals a beautiful, flashy car--not just a practical car, taken because he really needs it, but an extravagant, luxurious yellow Cadillac. He brings it home to show it off, and to Esperanza the event feels almost like a parade. The extreme excitement of the moment is made all the more striking by how abruptly it ends: they only drive up and down the alley six times before the police come, the car is destroyed, and Louie’s cousin is taken away.


CHAPTER 11: Marin

Summary

Marin is saving money to see her secret boyfriend, who is in Puerto Rico. She also wants to get a job downtown, though, so that she can wear expensive clothes and meet a rich man who will want to marry her. She sits on her front steps with Esperanza. They talk a little, but mostly they wait for boys to go by, so they can see and be seen.

Notes

Marin is an exotic figure in Esperanza’s young life. She has beautiful green eyes and big dreams, is always singing mysterious songs, and has many secrets: her cigarettes, her boyfriend, and all the little things she knows about sex and dating. Her friendship with Esperanza is very much based on Marin imparting her secrets to her young, impressionable friend.

CHAPTER 12: Those Who Don’t

Summary

Esperanza is disdainful of people who come into her neighborhood by mistake and are afraid, thinking they will be robbed or killed. However, she admits that when she and her friends go to other neighborhoods, they are afraid themselves. “Yeah,” she says. “That is how it goes and goes.”

Notes

Esperanza says outright what the entire book implies: people whose lives are closed off enough that they only know a certain way of life are afraid when they are confronted with people who are not like them. Her own neighborhood is an example of this: “all brown all around, we are safe,” she says. She points out that even her own friends and neighbors, who are likely to be feared by non-Hispanic people, are afraid themselves when they leave the neighborhood. She is intelligent to the point of cynicism: her observations about prejudice are wry and ridicule everyone, including herself.

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