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Cathy warns Esperanza to stay away from Lucy and Rachel because they "smell like a broom," but Esperanza doesn't listen and chips in money with them to buy a bike. Because Esperanza didn't listen to her advice, Cathy ends their very short friendship.
Cathy's cautioning of Esperanza has a few different meanings, as we see in the text. Even in an area of poverty, there are different levels of poverty. Prejudice can be found anywhere amongst every group of people.
Cathy doesn't want Esperanza around the two girls because of the way they look. Their clothes are ragged..... well, the girls are ragged, but Esperanza doesn't care and Cathy will have nothing to do with them. Esperanza is entranced by the way they flout the Sunday traditional dress, and move about in their Sunday shoes without socks...... Cathy is disgusted. Esperanza finds Rachel's rudeness to be sassy...... everyone else considers it nothing more than rude. Esperanza is definitely an accepting character; as everyone should be!
House on Mango Street