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House on Mango Street: Esperanza's Changes

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Esperanza, the main character of Sandra Cisneros' novel, The House on Mango Street, goes through many changes as she grows up. One such progression is her sexual maturity. Throughout different points in the book, Esperanza is shown as a romantic, a distraught protester of sexual experience, and a scared, jaded sex victim. These particular standouts are illustrated in the vignettes, "Sire," "Monkey Garden," and "Red Clowns."

Sire is an older boy in Esperanza's neighborhood, and is the subject of the vignette "Sire." Whenever she walks past his house, he stares at her. Once, she stared back and describes the experience: "It made you blood freeze to have somebody look at you like that. Somebody looked at me. Somebody looked" (Cisneros, 73). It can be assumed that Esperanza means that he looked at her in a way that indicated that she interested him on a hormonal level, though Esperanza is more interested in his relationship with his girlfriend, Lois. Esperanza watches the couple stay out late laughing and taking walks and bike rides together. She states that she wants to stay out late with a boyfriend too, and imagines being held and kissed like she thinks Sire does with Lois. This vignette shows Esperanza, The Romantic, and her idealistic views on romance, but that soon changes a mere eleven pages later.

"The Monkey Garden" exemplifying the next stage in Esperanza's sexual maturing. In this vignette, the reader witnesses Esperanza demonstrate the protesting of simple kissing. She does this when her friend, Sally, agrees to kiss each member of a small group of boys in exchange for the return of her keys, which they had playfully stolen. For reasons she could not understand, this made Esperanza furious and she went as far as (fruitlessly) reporting the incident to one of the boys' mother. Esperanza's motives are open to interpretation, possibly being seen as jealousy, fear of real sexual experience, or the retaining of the innocent, child-like mindset that kissing is only for mommies and daddies to engage in. In any case, Esperanza is being metaphorically slapped in the face by the reality of romantic/sexual acts.

The final stage of this sexually maturing journey is the despicableness of "Red Clowns." The aforementioned negative adjective is rightfully applied because in this vignette, Esperanza is molested and/or raped. She went to a carnival with Sally (a common theme in our leading lady's not-so-great sexual adventures, hmm?). While she was waiting for Sally to come back from who-knows-where with some older boy, she was snatched up and molested and/or raped by some creeper. Esperanza, obviously in distress, mentally recounts the event to Sally: "Why didn't you hear me when I called? Why didn't you tell them to leave me alone? The one who grabbed me by the arm, he wouldn't let me go. He said I love you, Spanish

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