Esmeralda is a young woman caught between dualing forces in many areas - between childhood and womanhood, between Puerto Rican culture and American culture, in between black and white. She can't quite take any road - she doesn't quite fit into any category. She has learned English, but she still thinks in Spanish. She wants to fit into American life, but she misses Puerto Rico. She wants to be accepted, but she doesn't want to abandon her family or her roots. She wants to grow up, but she doesn't want to leave those that she loves.
In other words, she is one rider always heading in different directions, never sure of what her path is. That is, until the end. She does finally choose a road - she leaves home, she goes to Florida (not to Puerto Rico). However, she does so finally understanding that she can choose this path for herself and not abandon her heritage.