Black, white, and orange illustration of Esperanza standing in front of a building or structure

The House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros

Start Free Trial

What is the theme of "My Name" in The House on Mango Street?

Quick answer:

The theme of "My Name" is Esperanza's wish to transcend her heritage and gender. She approaches this theme through an examination of her name.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The theme of this chapter is Esperanza's desire to transcend the hold of her heritage and her female gender. She approaches this longing for liberation through exploring her name.

Esperanza tells us she was named for her great-grandmother. However, though she shares her great-grandmother's name, she does not wish to share her plight: her great- grandmother was kidnapped into marriage and treated by her husband as if she were an object he could possess, like a "fancy chandelier." She does not want to end up sitting at a window, denied opportunities because of her gender.

Esperanza finds her name as ambiguous or many-sided as her heritage. It means both hope and "sadness." To her it is a "muddy" name, its connection to her destiny unclear. She feels it means "waiting."

Esperanza also notes that her name is difficult for people to pronounce in English. It separates her from her adopted culture. She ends the chapter saying she would like a new name, one more like the "real" her.

The chapter shows Esperanza acknowledging her cultural and female heritage, and, at the same time, wanting to transcend this limiting legacy. She wishes to fashion a new, more individual self who can thrive without the constraints of gender or history holding her in place.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial