In The House on Mango Street, why does Esperanza both seek and try to avoid sexual experience?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is important to remember that this is, above all, a very sensitive and poignant coming-of-age story told from the perspective of a Latino immigrant who is growing up in the world around her and at every turn sees fellow women being beaten, abused and suppressed. There is a sense of curiosity at what she sees, in, for example, vignettes such as "The Monkey Garden" when her friend Sally presumably has sex with some boys. Whilst she is repelled by such an event, we can also infer that this gives rise to an immense curiosity and pressure for her to do what all of her peers are doing:

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.

There is a sense in which this quote displays the way that Esperanza is growing up and how unhappy she is with her own appearance, and how she wants to be older and maturer, like the example that she sees in Sally, as much as it offends her. Of course, to find out what happens when Esperanza does have her first sexual experience, you can read "Red Clowns," which is a moving account of Esperanza being molested.

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