the house on mango street
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Lucy, Rachel, and Esperanza inherit second-hand shoes from a small-footed neighbor. The girls are pleased with the way they look in the high-heels, and practice strutting their stuff around the neighborhood; they raise the interest of men and the disdain of other girls in the process......
The shoes change the girls by giving them self-confidence and awareness of their blossoming sexuality. As well as learning that they are attractive to men, the girl's also quickly encounter sexual double standards. For example, a man's threat "them are dangeroustake them shoes off before I call the cops" is a metaphor for the prevailing attitude that a woman who is comfortable with her sexuality is promiscuous and a threat. The girls also learn about another oppressive double standard: that by trying to fulfill cultural standards of female beauty they are putting themselves at risk for violence. When the drunkard offers Rachel five dollars for a kiss, we read a subtle social criticism of the way women- even young girls- are treated as a commodity that can be ogled, purchased and possessed. Please check out this excerpt from the GradeSaver-site link below.
What happens to Esperanza when she and her friends are given some cast-off shoes? How do the shoes change them? What effect do they have on the men in the neighborhood?