Her main change is that of a sexual awakening. She starts the novel as a child, ignorant about sex and seemingly uninterested in boys. As she moves into her teen years, she begins to learn the power that sex, particularly as a female, has and starts to experiment with this power. A key moment in which this power is demonstrated and tested is when she wears high heels around the neighborhood. She senses a power in wearing those shoes, perhaps a power that could take her out of her living situation on Mango St. However, after being sexually assaulted, Esperanza realizes the dark side of sexuality and pulls back from her sexuality a bit to focus on her writing.
Within her writing she develops as an author and begins to analyze the world around her instead of primarily focusing on herself and her immediate surroundings. She observes her community and starts to see writing as her means of escape to a better life. While her sense of individual responsibility to her community increases through the novel, as a writer, she finds herself becoming more of an isolated observer than participant. This is somewhat at odds with an increasing sense that all members of the community must work together to pull everyone out of poverty and into better, more prosperous lives, as opposed to her initial individual determination to escape. Evidence of her movement towards community involvement is shown in her relationship with Alicia and the three sisters, with whom she begins to see the need for lifelong efforts to improve the situations of the women in the community.