Esperanza lives in a small, cramped house on Mango Street. She, her mother and father and two brothers and sister all live in one small place. The walls are so thin you can hear the neighbors interactions. The house is located in the ghetto. Bums, drunkards, and homeless people are on the street:
Mango Street is populated by people with many different life stories, stories of hope and despair. First there is Esperanza's own family, her kind father who works two jobs and is absent most of the time; her mother, who can speak two languages and sing opera but never finished high school; her two brothers Carlos and Kiki; and her little sister Nenny.
Truly, Esperanza is surrounded by such a negative environment until she hopes to leave the house on Mango Street:
The House on Mango Street is set in a Latino neighborhood in Chicago. Esperanza briefly describes some of the rickety houses in her neighborhood, beginning with her own, which she says is "small and red with tight steps in front.
Besides the house being run down, the neighborhood is less than ideal. Esperanza has to deal with the people of the neighborhood who live hopeless lives. She desires to leave it all behind one day. She desires a nice home in a safe, beautiful neighborhood:
In a child-like voice, Esperanza records impressions of the world around her. Her perceptions range from humorous anecdotes pulled from life in the barrio to more dark references to crime and sexual provocation.
The neighborhood is crowded. People live close to one another. Esperanza can hear the street fights and the families next door arguing. She is unhappy with her house and environment. She writes that she will escape the house on Mango Street one day. But for now, she has to put up with all types of activities that happen on Mango Street:
Esperanza gives the impression of a crowded neighborhood where people live in close quarters and lean out of windows, and where one can hear fighting, talking, and music coming from other houses on the street.