Esperanza, the main character in The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is a strong-willed girl who dreams big despite her surroundings and limitations. Throughout the book, Esperanza struggles to find for who she is. Her endless search causes a number of things to contribute to her coming of age. Esperanza goes through many changes, evolving from insecure young girl not knowing who she is to a confident young women who knows exactly where she want her life to take her.
Early on, Esperanza begins to show hints of growing up both physically and mentally. Although not entirely as she is still a young girl with the desire of finding for who really she is. When Esperanza is given heeled shoes for the first time she makes a fascinating discovery that contributes to the idea of coming of age. Esperanza makes this discovery when saying, “yes, it’s true. We have legs. Skinny and spotted with satin scars where scabs were picked, but legs, all our own, good to look at, and long” (Cisneros 40). Esperanza discovers her legs, but not as the childhood legs that she once knew. Now, she sees long, lean legs much like those of a women. The satin scars from where scabs were picked represents a time at which she was younger, while the long legs she sees now shows her slight maturity. Esperanza no longer can see the scars that are results of childhood play. However slight the development in Esperanza’s character might be, they continue to evolve as she grows older and finds her place in the world.
As Esperanza develops as a person, she goes through a phase where she is still immature and young, however she starts to show distinct evidence of maturity and growing up. An example of this is when she develops a crush on a boy named Sire. As she is growing feeling for this boy Sire, and is shaken by her own emotions: “Everything is holding its breath inside me. Everything is waiting to explode like christmas. I want to be all new and shiny. I want to sit out bad at night, a boy around my neck and the wind under my skirt” (73). Esperanza starts to express her own sexual yearnings. She’s still not sure what Sire and his girlfriend do together, exactly, but thinking about it fills her with energy and makes her feel ‘all new and shiny.’ She makes another childlike analogy here when relating what she is feeling to Christmas. This shows how she has not fully grown up. Sire represents a possible path for Esperanza – giving up her freedom for an early crush. Esperanza continues to sexually mature, and the conflict grows between her desire to be loved by men and her goal of becoming independent and autonomous.
Esperanza continues to develop as she is forced to grow up.
Towards the end of the novel, Esperanza finally grows up and becomes more self confident. When Esperanza runs away from the “Monkey Garden”, she is then forced to grow up. “I looked at my feet in their white socks and ugly round shoes. They seemed far away. They didn’t seem to be my feet anymore. And the garden that had been such a good place to play didn’t seem mine either” (Cisneros 98). Esperanza is starting to feel lost, not herself in her own shoes. She doesn’t feel confident in her own skin. She seems like she is drifting away from her own conscious self, almost as if she is a ghost staring back at herself from miles away. Whether she wants to or not, Esperanza is finally being forced to grow up.
Towards the end of the noel, Esperanza finally grows up and becomes self-confident. When Esperanza runs away from the “Monkey Garden”, she is forced to grow up. “I looked at my feet in their white socks and ugly round shoes. They seemed far away. They didn’t seem to be my feet anymore. And the garden that had been such a good place to play didn’t seem mine either” (Cisneros 98). Whether she wants to or not, Esperanza is finally being forced to grow up. The play place that was once so innocent and is now a junkyard reciprocates Esperanza’s innocence that slowly turns into reality. She is growing up. Additionally, she gains enough confidence and maturity to make her own life decisions. This is shown when she makes the important decision of where she wants her life to take her. “I have decided not to grow up tame like the others who lay their necks on the threshold waiting for the ball and chain” (Cisneros 88). This shows Esperanza’s maturity to make her own life choices by herself. She is finally confident and independent enough to know where she wants her life to take her. Esperanza finally completes her evolution from young and immature to adult-like and confident.