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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 27: The Earl of Tennessee

Summary

Earl lives in Esperanza’s neighborhood. He speaks with a Southern accent and wears a felt hat all the time. He works nights, and complains during the day when the children play too loudly. Everyone thinks he has a wife, but he has been seen taking several different women into his house at night, none of whom stay very long.

Notes

The difference between what the reader knows and what Esperanza knows is expanded in this chapter to include the entire neighborhood. Everyone talks about Earl’s wife, but it seems fairly clear that he doesn’t have one, and that he probably doesn’t know the women he brings to his apartment very well. For this tightly knit, religious community, to live that way is unthinkable. Earl is a complete outsider in his neighborhood, and serves to highlight the norms he goes against.

CHAPTER 28: Sire

Summary

Sire is an older boy who stares at Esperanza when she walks past his house. She tries to stare back, to show him she isn’t afraid, but she is in over her head and frightens herself and shocks him by staring too long. Sire’s girlfriend, Lois, arrives. Esperanza is fascinated, because Lois is petite and pretty and she and Sire stay out late together. Esperanza longs for a boyfriend, but Mrs. Cordero tells her daughter that people like Lois and Sire should be avoided.


Notes

Another aspect of Esperanza’s maturity, which with much of this book is concerned, is, of course, her sexuality. She is thrilled at Sire’s attention, saying to herself over and over, “Somebody looked at me. Somebody looked.” She is also afraid, but her fear does not hold her back as much as it once did. Now, despite her fear, she wants to “sit out bad at night” with a boy. As she says herself, everything inside her is waiting to explode. The fact that she is still interested in Sire even though her parents tell her that he is “a punk” testifies to her increasing independence.

CHAPTER 29: Four Skinny Trees

Summary

Esperanza feels close to the four trees the city planted outside her window. Like her, she says, they are skinny and don’t belong there, but also like her, they are strong and willful. They grow through concrete. “Their strength is secret.”

Notes

Esperanza’s self-knowledge is clearly increasing. She identifies herself, in a completely abstract way, with the four trees. Interestingly, she says they stay strong because they “never quit their anger,” a facet of Esperanza herself which has become more evident in recent chapters, including “Geraldo No Last Name.” When she was younger, she felt mostly fearful of the outside world. She contrasts herself with the less mature Nenny as well. Nenny sleeps through the planting, not seeing the meaning in the trees that Esperanza sees.

CHAPTER 30: No Speak English

Summary

Mamacita is a very large woman whose husband has brought her and their child from Mexico to Mango Street. She never leaves her apartment, and refuses to learn English, pining every day for Mexico, to the disgust of her husband. Then her baby boy sings a Pepsi commercial he heard on TV, and Mamacita becomes hysterical, crying, “No speak English!”

Notes

This chapter, like “Geraldo No Last Name” is about the Mexican immigrant experience. It is notable that neither Geraldo nor Mamacita have a good experience in America.

Mamacita’s size and brightly colored clothing make her seem too exotic for Mango Street, imprisoned in her American life, though she remains distinctly un-American. Her voice reinforces this when she sings Spanish songs, sounding like a seagull, or when she cries out hysterically: she is like a beautiful caged animal.

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