How are sex and violence linked in this novel? Why does Esperanza both seek and try to avoid sexual experiences?
In The House on Mango Street, love and violence are directly linked as characters attempt to seek confirmation of their identities while ending up in circles of abuse. For example, in the vignette titled "Linoleum Roses," Sally has gotten married at a young age seemingly to gain a sense of freedom, independence, and belonging. She attempts to carry on this "loving" relationship with her husband; however, he abuses her and forces her to live within the limits of his control. Sally stays in this marriage under the guise of love and false happiness even though she suffers violence from her husband. The relationship confirms Sally's sense of identity that has been constructed around her low self-esteem.
Similarly, Esperanza seeks a sense of confirmation and belonging through love, and as she is growing up, she learns that love may be shown through physical, sexual acts. However, she also learns that people hurt each other through sex, so she attempts to avoid situations that may be harmful.