The House on Mango Street Questions and Answers
by Sandra Cisneros

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In Chapter Four of The House on Mango Street, give a brief summary of what is said about names.

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The importance of this vignette, entitled "My Name," lies in the many different ways that names can be interpreted and the different images that can be summoned up by one name. It also relates to a key thematic concept in this text, which is that of identity. We are introduced to a Latino girl who is trying to find her way in the world in which she finds herself, and her name therefore is a crucial part of that search for an identity. 

For Esperanza, her name is representative of the many different identities that are part of who she is:

In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy colour. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing.

Her name conjures up moods, emotions and images. It is also seen as something that she is made fun of for, and also something that she finds oppressive. At the end of this short vignette, she imagines changing her name and as a result, being able to take up a new identity. This vignette therefore begins to explore the extremely complex function of names and the value and meaning that we and others attach to them.

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