Part IX Summary: Geraldo No Last Name, Edna’s Ruthie, The Earl of Tennessee, and Sire
Geraldo: a young man Marin meets at a dance
Ruthie: Edna’s daughter
Earl: the man who lives in Edna’s basement
Earl’s “wife”: the different women Earl brings home
Sire: a neighborhood boy
Lois: Sire’s girlfriend
Marin meets Geraldo, a young Hispanic man, at a dance. He dies later that evening in a hit-and-run accident. No one seems to know anything about him, and no one seems to understand why Marin is so upset if she only met him that evening. Geraldo was a wetback, a temporary and probably illegal immigrant worker who didn’t speak any English and didn’t have any identification. No one even knew his last name or where he lived. No one, in fact, knew that he worked hard and sent his money home to his family. Those he left behind in his native country will never know what happened to him.
Ruthie, Edna’s daughter, is the only “grown-up” Esperanza knows who “likes to play.” She laughs to herself, whistles beautifully, and is frightened inside stores. She has the ability to see beauty in common and unusual things, but she is also very indecisive. Once her mother’s friends invited her to join them for some bingo. Ruthie couldn’t decide whether or not to go, and after 15 minutes they left without her.
Ruthie says she is married, and Esperanza can’t understand why Ruthie is with her mother on Mango Street if she has a house and a husband outside the city. Ruthie keeps telling Esperanza that her husband is coming to get her, but he never comes.
The Earl of Tennessee
Earl rents the basement apartment in Edna’s building next door. He works at night, has a large record collection, and often gives records away to Esperanza and her friends. The neighbors say Earl has a wife, but those who’ve seen her don’t seem to be describing the same woman.
Esperanza notices that Sire, a boy from her neighborhood, has been watching her. Once she returned his stare and it made her feel wonderful to have someone look at her “like that.” Her parents tell her to stay away from him because he’s a “punk.”
Then Esperanza sees Sire with his girlfriend, Lois. She watches them together and wonders what they do when they’re alone. Esperanza expresses a desire to explore her sexuality, to do “bad” things instead of just thinking about them.
“Geraldo” is the tragic story of the death of an immigrant. Geraldo, whom Marin meets at a dance, is young, “pretty,” and works in a restaurant. That’s all Marin knows of him.
Because Marin is so upset by Geraldo’s death, those investigating the accident have a hard time believing that’s all Marin knows about him and that they only just met that evening. They are surprised that Marin stayed “for hours and hours, for somebody she didn’t even know.”
Though it is possible that Marin had met Geraldo before, the more likely conclusion is that Marin is upset because Geraldo is Hispanic, like her, and his death will go unmourned. They ask Marin “What does it matter?” But it does matter. To the authorities, who see Geraldo as “just another wetback,” his death is meaningless. Because he is Hispanic and because he appears to be an illegal alien (he has no identification), his death may even be welcome to them.
But in Marin’s eyes, Geraldo represents the thousands of braceros and wetbacks who, like Geraldo, have come to the United States to find work and a better life for themselves and their families. Esperanza imagines the tiny rooms Geraldo rented and the money he sent home to his family. She also imagines his family back home thinking that he’d deserted them, wondering why they never heard from him again. His life and work, in short, will go unappreciated. He dies slandered as a wetback rather than respected as a hardworking, family-oriented young man.
Ruthie is unique among the characters that populate Mango Street. She is the “only grown-up who still likes to play,” but not because she has a childlike...
(The entire section is 1,180 words.)