What is the relationship between Esperanza and her mother?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interestingly, Esperanza's name is a noun derivative of the Spanish verb which means to hope. She herself explains her name:

In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters.

This name certainly befits the girl, who refuses to be like her mother, who has once hoped for a better life, dreaming of a house "white with trees around it, a great big yard and grass growing without a fence," but now seems resigned to taking care of her family despite her one persistent declaration that the house in which they live is only "for the time being." But, while the mother thinks no further than "for the time being," Esperanza turns her negative and "sad house" into a springboard for her creative powers in writing.

Certainly, Esperanza does not believe what her mother says about the house's only being temporary residence, commenting, "But I know how these things go." She knows that her mother's aspirations are passive, sacrificed in the care of her family. She speaks of change just as one recites an old prayer because one must if she still has some glimmer of religious faith.

Today while cooking oatmeal [as she listens to opera on the radio] she is Madame Butterfly until she sighs and points the wooden spoon at me. I could've been somebody, you know? Esperanza, you go to school. Study hard. That Madame Butterfly was a fool. She stirs the oatmeal. Look at my comadres. She means Izaura whose husband left and Yolanda whose husband is dead. Got to take care all your own, she says shaking her head.

Esperanza's mother desires a better life for her daughter, encouraging her to put her own dreams first and not sacrifice them to duty. For this wish, Esperanza loves her mother; she will not forget her even though she leaves the barrio.

Read the study guide:
The House on Mango Street

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question