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Esperanza's primary culture of reference is that of her Chicago Latino neighborhood and community. Yet, the series of sketches also describe the character's coming of age and her longing for inclusion in the larger American culture. This is reflected in her initial refusal of the house on Mango Street as her house. Yet, as Esperanza grows, her ambition to leave the neighborhood is paralleled by her need to go back to it and tell its stories. As an example of this seemingly contradictory behavior you can take what the narrator says in the last sketch. Having announced that she would like a flat of her own, "a space for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem" (page 108), she concludes that her neighbors "will not know I have gone away to come back" (page 110). Her coming back and storytelling are conceived as a service to the community, "for the ones I left behind. For the ones who cannot out" (page 110). This attitude is symptomatic of a search for an identity that combines ethnic descent and a claim to redisign the cultural mainstream to include different cultural heritages.
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