Geraldo No Last Name Themes
by Sandra Cisneros

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Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Geraldo No Last Name” is one of forty-four sketches in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street (1984). The voice of a narrator identified as Esperanza in another vignette helps to unify her entire book. As Esperanza tells the stories, such as that of Geraldo, she assesses the situations and expresses her opinions—which seem to reflect the point of view of a preadolescent girl or one in her early adolescence.

Although each of Cisneros’s vignettes can stand alone as a story, it is helpful to read all of The House on Mango Street for a more thorough understanding of the themes that she develops. A vignette entitled “Marin,” for example, presents the background of the young woman who enjoys going dancing. Marin is a beautiful Puerto Rican girl, whose family has sent her to the United States in the care of an aunt.

The main theme of “Geraldo No Last Name” centers on the human tragedy of the illegal worker, who must remain as anonymous as possible in order to survive. Marin’s and Geraldo’s lives touch only by chance because they happen to be in the same dance hall and they dance together. It is evident that Geraldo wants to reveal little about himself beyond his first name. He tells her that he works in a restaurant, but after his death Marin cannot even remember the name of his restaurant—a fact suggesting that Geraldo told her little about his place of employment.

In addition to Geraldo’s death and his total anonymity, other tragedies are implied in the story. The fact that living in fear prevents people from communicating with each other and from forming lasting friendships is an unfortunate situation. All barriers between people are tragedies because they breed misunderstandings and unhappiness that touch many lives.

The narrator thinks that Geraldo’s lack of identity and the entire situation are a shame. Moreover, she...

(The entire section is 482 words.)