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Without a doubt the single most important character in the book, Esperanza’s story is told entirely through her eyes. This makes sense because the book is really about her, and the changes in her life over the year she lives on Mango Street. She begins as a shy, lonely, introverted girl who has no friends and often fears what people will think of her. Her father is Mexican and her mother is Mexican-American. The family moves often, and this book concerns the year they spend in a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago.
Dreamy and romantic, and sometimes finding it difficult to fit in, she dreams about what it would be like to have friends and a boyfriend. She is generally kind and concerned with others’ feelings, even people she does not know. She is close to her family, often taking care of her younger sister Nenny and maintaining a warm relationship with her parents. She is also very interested in writing, something that is not often discussed directly in the book but is important nonetheless. Slowly, she realizes that writing is what will keep her strong and independent. This is very important to her, because she worries about how to remain her own person in a community that often forces women to stay home with children and submit to their husbands.
Writing is part of her identity, something she searches for throughout the book. She is dissatisfied with the lives women in her neighborhood generally lead, but is often unsure of what kind of future she wants for herself. She leans toward several different options, identifying herself with the boisterous Lucy and Rachel, the intelligent and demure Alicia, and the sultry, rebellious Sally. Finally, she decides that what she really wants is to be independent, and to have her own place to write.