Last Updated on May 17, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 691
The Three Sisters: aunts of Rachel and Lucy
The Three Sisters
Lucy and Rachel’s baby sister dies. Many visitors come to their house for the viewing, and Esperanza meets Lucy and Rachel’s aunts there. They call Esperanza over and read her palm. They say that she is special and tell her to make a wish. She does, and they tell her it will come true. Then one of the sisters takes Esperanza aside and tells her that when she leaves Mango Street, she must remember to return, “to come back for the others.” She tells Esperanza not to forget who she is, because she will always be Esperanza and will always be part of Mango Street.
Alicia & I Talking on Edna’s Steps
Esperanza tells Alicia she is sad because she doesn’t have a house. Alicia reminds her that she lives in the house right next door, but Esperanza says that she doesn’t want to belong to Mango Street; where she lives isn’t a real home. Alicia tells Esperanza that whether she wants to or not, she does belong to Mango Street, and one day she’ll return.
The comadres are fascinating and very important characters. They are old and mysterious, and they do “not seem to be related to anything but the moon.” (The moon is a traditional symbol for women.) More importantly, they “had the power and could sense what was what.” They know what is going on with Esperanza; they can see her desire to escape Mango Street. They can also see her strength, and they know “she’ll go very far.”
The three sisters teach Esperanza, who had been so passionate in her desire to leave Mango Street and have a “real” house and to leave her past completely behind her, the ultimate lesson of the novel: that all of Mango Street, all of the characters who populate these stories, all of the people and places Esperanza has known have made her who and what she is. To reject it will keep her from coming back, and, the sister tells her, it is her duty to come back and help others. “A circle, understand?”
Esperanza then realizes that the wish she had made was a selfish one. We don’t know for sure what her wish was, but it’s fairly safe to assume that she wished for a “real” house, one far away from Mango Street. This is a wish that would keep her from completing the circle.
The circle is an important symbol in this vignette and in the novel as a whole. A circle is endless—it has no beginning and no end; it is complete; it is entirely equal and whole. There is no beginning and no end, but rather a continuous return. The future is always connected to the past.
What Esperanza lamented in the third vignette (“My Name”)—that “I am always Esperanza”—is given new meaning by the ¬sisters, who tell her: “You will always be Esperanza.” This “permanence” is something Esperanza should embrace, not resist. When we try to deny a part of us or of our past, it becomes a ghost that will always haunt us. That is why Esperanza is so passionate about leaving Mango Street—the more she denies it, the more it gnaws at her and the more she desires to escape it. She must realize that if she completes the circle—if she leaves and comes back—those whom she helps will later be able to do the same for others.
Though the sisters’ message was clear, Esperanza hasn’t quite understood it all and hasn’t completely accepted it when she talks to Alicia. She still laments that she doesn’t “have a house”; she still insists that she doesn’t belong. Alicia, the only female character strong enough to have gotten out of Mango Street and escape the “ball and chain,” already knows what the sisters mean. Alicia has realized that “Like it or not,” they “are Mango Street”—and they are destined to return because they are strong enough to make it out.
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