Last Updated on May 17, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 724
Rafaela: a neighbor of Esperanza
Rafaela’s husband: locks up Rafaela in the apartment
Sally: a friend and classmate of Esperanza
Sally’s father: who beats Sally
Cheryl: Sally’s ex-best friend
Rafaela Who Drinks Coconut & Papaya Juice on Tuesdays
Rafaela’s husband locks her in their apartment on Tuesday nights when he goes to play dominoes. He is afraid she’ll run off because she is very young and beautiful. She leans out of the window and watches Esperanza and her friends play, then throws them money and asks them to buy her juice at the store. She pulls the juice up to her window with a clothesline. Rafaela would like to get out and go dancing at the bar on the corner, where the women are offered sweet drinks and promises.
Sally, a classmate of Esperanza, is beautiful and admired by the boys. Esperanza also admires Sally, who wears make-up, black clothes, and nylons to school. Sally’s father, who is very strict, doesn’t let her go out because she is beautiful and he is afraid she will get into trouble.
Sally has no friends after she fights with Cheryl, who called her a name. The boys tell stories about Sally, but Esperanza says those stories are lies. Esperanza wonders what Sally thinks about when she stands alone in the schoolyard and why Sally always has to go straight home. She wonders if Sally sometimes wants to leave Mango Street and find a house where no one will watch her, where no one will criticize her for wanting to love.
Young, beautiful Rafaela becomes a prisoner because she is so beautiful. Her husband is afraid that Rafaela, who is “too beautiful to look at,” will be tempted by others who will try to woo her away from him. He treats her more like a pet than a person, locking her inside when he goes out. He doesn’t trust her or respect her. Instead, he treats her like a piece of property that he must lock up to protect from thieves.
Rafaela asks Esperanza and her friends to buy her sweet juices, hoping that the sweetness will counteract the bitterness of her situation. She envies the women in the corner bar, women who can dance and who have their own keys to their own homes. These women, however, are not really to be envied. Though they are always being offered “sweeter drinks” and always getting promises “to keep them on a silver string”—the men are always promising them better and better things—when the women marry, they often end up locked inside like Rafaela.
Sally, too, is very beautiful, and she is also punished for it. Though Esperanza has lamented her own lack of beauty, she seems to be better off than the women who are beautiful. Sally’s father “says to be this beautiful is trouble,” and he is very strict with Sally. He won’t let her out of the house after school. His strictness makes her rebel. When she gets to school, she applies make-up, which she removes before she goes home. Her orders not to talk to boys make her want to do it all the more, for what is most forbidden is also usually most desired.
Sally seems to be friendless since her fight with Cheryl. The cause of the fight isn’t made entirely clear, but it ends their friendship when Cheryl calls Sally “that name”—presumably, “whore.” Everyone, it seems, talks about Sally, but Sally has no one to talk to.
Esperanza offers her friendship to Sally in this vignette. She notices how Sally changes when it’s time to leave school and return to the home she “can’t come out of.” Esperanza senses in Sally a similar desire to go “far away from Mango Street” to a house “where a room is waiting” for her, a house in the open, without people watching her and criticizing her, waiting, as the jealous often do, for her “to make a mistake.” Instead, Sally would be allowed to dream and love. Esperanza sees Sally’s desire for attention from boys as a desire to be loved, and she doesn’t think that is crazy. She sees a bit of herself in Sally, because Sally, like her, “never belonged here anyway.” Their dreams are different.
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