Another current issue is, when it comes to schooling, families from lower or even lower-middle class tend to move a lot. The schools in the “bad” sides of San Antonio have the expectations that they will have students coming in and out on a regular basis, because the families tend to move before rent is due because they cannot afford it. The lack of money may be the reason for Esperanza moving around so much in the beginning of the book. Esperanza says that her family did not always live on Mango Street, she says that “before that [they] lived on Loomis on the third floor, and before that [they] lived on Keeler, before Keeler is was Paulina, and before that [she] can’t remember ” (Cisneros 3). Esperanza is twelve years old and she has already moved around a lot; money may have been the issue in her case as it is for children today. In San Antonio, the schools that have the higher percentage of children coming in and out, which are more so in the lower income areas, tend to have lower test scores.
In addition, themes are important in this novel because they are seen throughout the book. For example, the book displays many references to class, Esperanza realizes that being able to speak English plays an important role in bettering herself. She realizes that those who are not able to communicate effectively are synchronized to the bottom levels of society. She sees how Mamacita, a neighbor, became a prisoner in her own home because she could not speak English. When Mamacita’s son begins to speak in English, she feels like his new language disrespects her. When Esperanza’s father moved to the country, he too didn’t know English and felt lost, and worthless. Esperanza realizes that not knowing the English language creates subjection and that being able to communicate in English properly gives you power.
Furthermore, the theme of race is seen when Esperanza feels ashamed of her name and wishes she could change it. Esperanza wants to change her name so that she can define herself on her own terms, instead of accepting a name that expresses her family heritage. She feels that in changing her name it helps her separate herself from her mother and sister, in order to create her own life. Others have an English name and a Spanish name, such as Meme Ortiz, whose Spanish name is Juan. These multiple names stress the mix of cultures and languages that make up Esperanza’s neighborhood and the difficulties her neighbors have in figuring out who they are, in their families, their neighborhood, even their country.
Gender is seen throughout this novel. Esperanza struggles to define herself and highlights every action and encounter she is confronted with. She learns that she must define herself both as a woman and an artist and her view of identity changes throughout the path of the novel. In the beginning of the novel Esperanza says that boys and girls live in different worlds, and this observation proves true of men and women in every stage of life. Since the...