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One of the distinguishing features that makes this work stand out is the intense, vivid imagery that Cisneros creates through her descriptions. Imagery is of course a way of creating mental pictures of a scene through the incorporation of the senses in the description: sight, taste, hearing, smell, and touch. One rather disturbing place in the narrative where the author uses touch and smell is in the vignette "Red Clowns" when Esperanza talks about the experience of being sexually molested. Note how she describes what happened to her:
Why did you leave me all alone? I waited my whole life. You're a liar. They all lied. All the books and magazines, everything that told it wrong. Only his dirty fingernails against my skin, only his sour smell again. The moon that watched. The tilt-a-whirl. The red clowns laughing their thick-tongue laugh.
Note how the sense of betrayal that Esperanza experienced is conveyed through her discovery that sex is not as "all the books and magazines" present it, but, through her experience, becomes related to nothing more than the feel of the boy's "dirty fingernails against my skin" and the smell of his "sour" mouth. Such imagery helps convery the immensely disturbing experience that Esperanza suffered, as we associaty dirt and sourness with bad things.