How does Elena feel about her home and Eugene's home?

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Elena is not happy with her home, especially when she compares it to the house next door. At first, Elena innocently spies on an elderly couple who lives in the house next to her large tenement building. She envies their privacy and solitude as they lounge in their backyard or sit together reading or eating in the kitchen at the table. After the man dies and the old woman moves out, a family from Georgia moves in who has a son named Eugene. Elena befriends him and projects her fantasies about the house onto him as she dreams of sitting with him at the kitchen table and reading. Elena describes her building as a big, ugly, gray prison with dirty windows and fire escapes. Eugene's home, on the other hand, is roomier, of course, and symbolizes more financial freedom than her parents have, as well as peace and freedom from the "monstrous jukebox" of an over-crowded apartment building. Ironically, when Eugene's mother turns her away, the house that represents such happiness, peace, and joy for Elena in her day dreams becomes the place that rejects her for being Puerto Rican and poor.

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