The Three Sisters
This chapter begins with the death of Lucy and Rachel's baby sister. At the funeral, Esperanza meets "las comadres" or the three strange and mysterious old sisters who "had the power and could sense what was what." Without any warning, the old ladies inquire her name and examine her hands; they then tell Esperanza to make a wish. They promise that the wish will come true, and then "the one with marble hands" calls her aside and teachers her an important lesson. Esperanza learns that her ties are a circle and that, although she will leave Mango Street, she must return for those who cannot escape as easily. As if in answer to Esperanza's insecurities, the mystical woman tells Esperanza that she cannot forget what she knows, which is Mango Street, nor her identity, which is linked to her name. After she promises to return to her roots, Esperanza joins her playmates and never sees these mysterious women again.
Once again, Cisneros gives us vibrant portraits of interesting characters; such as the old women who are "thin as a spider web and barely noticed" Indeed, the use of language is special because it perfectly depicts how only a special child such as Esperanaza would observe "three who did not seem to be related to anything but the moon."
This chapter's theme is superstition and the cultural value of mysticism. For example, the baby's approaching death is symbolized by the crying dog and the flight of a yellow bird through an open window. The old ladies predict Esperanza's good fortune based on the luck of her name and the power revealed in her palms.
So too, the fortune they predict for Esperanza is noteworthy. Although the themes of home and name are common in this story, in this chapter we learn that while Esperanza's dream will come true, she must accept a new responsibility of completing the circle. Thus, in subsequent treatment of self-creation through a new home and name, we will see that Esperanza is unable to escape ties of heritage and duty to Mango Street.
Alicia & I Talking on Edna's Steps
Alicia listens to Esperanza's sadness at not having a her own house. Unlike Alicia's dream to one day return to Guadalajara, Mexico, Esperanza has no sense of belonging to Mango Street, nor does she want it to be her place of origin. Alicia, wise as others before her, tells Esperanza that she cannot escape being a part of Mango Street, and that one day she will return. Esperanza retorts that she will not come back unless someone improves the neighborhood, and the chapter ends with ironic, double-edged laughter: if the mayor won't help Mango Street, who will? The question is left to be answered.
The metaphor "you are Mango Street" is a very important lesson for Esperanza, she begins to realize that she cannot deny her heritage, and that even in time she will embrace it and help the community where she learned so much about womanhood and human relations.
Cisneros writes with irony when Esperanza "shakes her head" to "undo the year she lived here," and criticizes the attitude that such marginal communities cannot be improved. This leads the reader to ponder if Esperanza will one day build her house of heart by working for the community she so adamantly rejects now.
A House of My Own
This chapter finally describes Esperanza's dream home. It is neither an apartment nor a man's house, but rather a "house all my own" which fulfills Esperanza's personal needs and dreams. She would fill this house with the special things she likes: flowers and pillows on the porch, books and stories. She would relish the solitude and independence; she longs to live in a pristine world, as evidenced by her dreams of "quiet as snow" and "clean as paper."
Themes of feminine independence, free from duties such as "garbage to pick up after" this wistful vision is written in very poetic prose; once again we see the lyrical qualities of Cisneros' writing. For example, in the line "With my porch and my pillow, my pretty purple petunias" has both the meter and the alliteration of verse. So too, note the rhyme and meter of the last line: "Only a house as quiet as snow, a place for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem" this last line also alludes to Esperanza's literary inclinations, as if she herself is writing this description of her dream. "my books and my stories" also bolsters the assumption that Esperanza is a budding writer.
Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes
The last chapter both confirms suspicions about Esperanza's writing and clarifies doubts that would normally come at the beginning of a conventional novel. Esperanza lives a life of true stories which she writes in her head. She tells the reader that "I am going to tell you a story about a girl who didn't want to belong" Esperanza again gives the summary of the family's different addresses, but she stops at Mango Street because she remembers the "sad red house, the house I belong but do not belong to" the most.
The painful emotions which Mango Street evokes in Esperanza are relieved when she finally expresses her love-hate relationship with the place upon paper. That is when "Mango says goodbye sometimes" at the moment, Mango is stronger than Esperanza, but she vows that "one day I will pack my bags of books and paper. One day I will say goodbye to Mango. I am too strong for her to keep me here forever" the final lines of the novel reveal Esperanza's true reason for wanting to move far away from Mango Street: so that one day she can come back for those- like so many of the characters we have met- who cannot make it out on their own.