In The House on Mango Street, the main character finds her life difficult while living on Mango Street. The novel opens with a description of the small cramped house that Esperanza lives in.
Esperanza is dissatisfied with the house, which is small and cramped, and doesn't want to stay there. But Mango Street is her home now, and she sets out to try to understand it.
The neighborhood is infected with troublemakers. There are drug dealers. There are men who abuse their women. There are prostitutes.
Esperanza lives for the day she can leave Mango Street and build or buy her own house in a nice neighborhood.
Through observing and interacting with her neighbors, Esperanza forms a connection to Mango Street which conflicts with her desire to leave.
Esperanza vows she will leave Mango Street. Her goal is to take as many as she can with her. She forms connections with people on Mango street. This makes her desire for leaving even more difficult. However, Esperanza knows that she must leave Mango Street. Older women tell her she must leave:
Esperanza. The one with marble hands called me aside Esperanza. She held my face with her blue-veined hands and looked and looked at me. A long silence. When you leave you must remember always to come back, she said.
When you leave you must remember to come back for the others. A circle, understand? You will always be Esperanza. You will always be Mango Street. You can't erase what you know. You can't forget who you are.
Then I didn't know what to say. It was as if she could read my mind, as if she knew what I had wished for, and I felt ashamed for having made such a selfish wish.
You must remember to come back. For the ones who cannot leave as easily as you. You will remember. She asked as if she was telling me yes. Yes, I said a little confused.
No doubt, Esperanza will leave Mango Street. These are her plans. She will find that nice house and a nice neighborhood. She will relocate and make a better life for herself somewhere beyond Mango Street. She will return for the ones who could not get out of Mango Street.