The conflict between gender and race seems to center around the fact that misogyny is embedded in the machismo of Esperanza's Latino culture. In the third vignette, Esperanza discusses how she sees this gender inequality early in her life.
The boys and girls live in separate worlds. The boys in...
their universe and we in ours. My brothers for example. They've got plenty to say to me and Nenny inside the house. But outside they can't be seen talking to girls.
Not only do the girls see the difference at a young age, the boys are also aware of the unspoken rules in their culture regarding gender; girls are not spoken to in public.
Esperanza also faces racism because of the stereotypes that others have regarding Latinos—for example, that they are all in gangs and carry knives.
Those who don't know any better come into our neighborhood scared. They think we're dangerous. They think we will attack them with shiny knives. They are stupid people who are lost and got here by mistake.
Esperanza faces discrimination and oppression not only from those outside of her culture, but from within her own culture as well, leaving her soul doubly wounded.
In the vignette "The Family of Little Feet," Esperanza and her friends are playing dress-up with a selection of high-heeled shoes that they received from their neighbor when they suddenly become aware that grown men in their neighborhood are noticing them in a prurient way. Mr. Benny, the grocer, says,
"Your mother know you got shoes like that? Who give you those? ... Them are dangerous," he says.
Esperanza soon learns that even a woman's clothing has a different meaning than a man's clothing. She learns the lesson early that what she wears has unspoken rules.
It is her own culture that promotes gender stereotypes and misogyny, and this is what creates the conflict for Esperanza.