Part I: The House on Mango Street, Hairs, and Boys & Girls

Study Questions
1. How is the house on Mango Street different from the other places Esperanza has lived?

2. Why did the Corderos have to move from the flat on Loomis Street?

3. What did Esperanza expect the house on Mango Street to be like?

4. Why did Esperanza have those expectations?

5. What is the house on Mango Street like? Why isn’t it “a real house”?

6. What happened between Esperanza and the nun from her school?

7. What did Esperanza realize after her experience with the nun?

8. Whose hair does Esperanza like best? Why?

9. What is Esperanza’s relationship with Nenny like?

10. Does Esperanza have a best friend?

1. The house on Mango Street is different because the Corderos own it rather than rent it. They don’t have to share it with anybody or answer to a landlord.

2. They had to leave the flat on Loomis because the water pipes broke and the landlord refused to fix them.

3. Esperanza expected the house on Mango Street to be a house with plenty of room, “real stairs,” at least three bathrooms, and a huge yard.

4. She had these expectations because this was the kind of house she saw on TV, the kind of house her parents talked about, the kind her mother described to her in stories.

5. The house on Mango Street is small, crumbling, with no front yard, and only a small backyard. It has apartment-style stairs, only one bathroom, and only three bedrooms, so everyone has to share. It’s not a house Esperanza can point to with pride.

6. The nun who passed Esperanza while she was playing in front of her flat on Loomis Street made Esperanza ashamed of where she lived. The nun made Esperanza “feel like nothing.”

7. After the incident with the nun, Esperanza knew she had to have a real house, one that she “could point to” with pride.

8. She likes her mother’s hair best because it smells like bread and makes her feel safe.

9. Esperanza thinks Nenny is too young to be her friend. Instead, Esperanza feels that Nenny is her responsibility.

10. No, she does not, but she dreams of having one.

Part II: My Name, Cathy Queen of Cats, and Our Good Day

Study Questions
1. What does Esperanza’s name mean in English and in Spanish?

2. After whom is Esperanza named?

3. What was Esperanza’s great-grandmother like?

4. What kind of name would Esperanza like for herself?

5. Why will Cathy be Esperanza’s friend “only till next Tuesday”?

6. Why is Cathy’s family leaving the neighborhood?

7. Why does Esperanza like Lucy and Rachel?

8. Why is Cathy not waiting when Esperanza gets back from buying the bike?

9. How does Esperanza think the girls will react to her name?

10. What does Rachel do that Esperanza thinks is “sassy”?

1. Esperanza’s name means “hope” in English, but “sadness or waiting” in Spanish.

2. Esperanza is named after her great-grandmother.

3. Esperanza’s great-grandmother was a “wild” woman who was very independent until she was forced to marry. After that, she was very sad.

4. Esperanza would like a name that is more like the “real” Esperanza, the one she says “nobody sees.” She would like a name that reveals who she really is, a name like “Zeze the X.”

5. Cathy will be Esperanza’s friend “only till next Tuesday” because that’s when her family is moving away from Mango Street.

6. Cathy says her family is leaving Mango Street because “the neighborhood is getting bad.” They’re leaving because it is getting too populated by Mexican-Americans and other minorities.

7. Esperanza likes Lucy and Rachel because they are poor and friendly.

8. Cathy is not waiting because she dislikes Rachel and Lucy, whom Esperanza has decided to befriend.

9. Esperanza is afraid the girls will laugh at her name and wishes it was something other than “Esperanza.”

10. Rachel insults a fat lady about her weight.

Part III: Laughter, Gil’s Furniture Bought & Sold, Meme Ortiz, and Louie, His Cousin & His Other Cousin

Study Questions
1. In what ways are Esperanza and Nenny similar?

2. What kind of store does Gil have?

3. What did Esperanza once buy from Gil?

4. What did Nenny want to buy from Gil?

5. Why couldn’t she buy it?

6. Why does Esperanza say that she and Nenny are stupid for wanting the music box?

7. What is Meme’s real name?

8. Why can’t Marin go out?

9. What kind of car did Louie’s other cousin have?

10. What happened to Louie’s other cousin when he came to Mango Street?

1. Esperanza and Nenny have the same laugh and the same memories of Mexico.

2. Gil has a junk store full of used furniture and trinkets.

3. Esperanza once bought a miniature Statue of Liberty.

4. Nenny wanted to buy the music box.

5. She couldn’t buy it because it wasn’t for sale.

6. Esperanza says they’re stupid because she knows that even if the music box were for sale, they couldn’t afford it.

7. Meme’s real name is Juan.

8. Marin can’t go out because she’s always babysitting Louie’s little sisters.

9. Louie’s other cousin had a yellow Cadillac.

10. The police chased him and arrested him.

Part IV: Marin, Those Who Don’t, and There Was an Old Woman She Had So Many Children She Didn’t Know What to Do

Study Questions
1. Why does Esperanza like Marin?

2. Why is Marin saving her money?

3. Why does Marin want to get a job downtown if she stays on Mango Street?

4. According to Marin, why is it important to be out front at night?

5. Why are people who get lost in Esperanza’s neighborhood afraid?

6. Why isn’t Esperanza scared in her neighborhood?

7. How does Esperanza feel when she goes into a neighborhood “of another color”?

8. Why can’t Rosa Vargas take care of her children?

9. What are the Vargas children like?

10. Why don’t the neighbors worry about the Vargas children anymore?

1. Esperanza likes Marin because Marin “is older and knows lots of things.”

2. Marin is saving her money because the boy she is engaged to in Puerto Rico hasn’t gotten a job yet.

3. Marin thinks she may meet a man on the subway who will marry her and take her far away.

4. Marin says it is essential that the boys be able to see them.

5. People who get lost in her neighborhood are afraid because everyone around them is “brown,” and they think that Esperanza’s neighborhood is dangerous.

6. Esperanza isn’t scared because she knows the people in her neighborhood, and she is comfortable being around others who are “brown.”

7. Esperanza feels the way “those who don’t” feel: she is nervous and scared.

8. Rosa Vargas can’t take care of her children because she has too many and she is all alone and poor.

9. The Vargas children are reckless and disrespectful.

10. The neighbors don’t care anymore because the Vargas children don’t listen to and don’t care about anyone, not even themselves.

Part V: Alicia Who Sees Mice, Darius & the Clouds, and And Some More

Study Questions
1. Why is Alicia so tired?

2. Why is Alicia in school?

3. According to Alicia’s father, where is a woman’s place?

4. Why is Alicia afraid of her father?

5. Why does Darius’s comment impress Esperanza?

6. What can Esperanza “never have too much” of?

7. Who is naming all the clouds in “And Some More”?

8. Why does Esperanza get mad at Rachel and Lucy?

9. According to Esperanza, how many different names for snow do the Eskimos have?

10. According to Lucy, how many different kinds of snow are there? According to Nenny?

1. Alicia is so tired because she has to travel far to school and stay up late to study.

2. Alicia is in school because “she doesn’t want to spend her whole life in a factory or behind a rolling pin.” She wants to have the opportunity to be more than just a housewife or a factory worker.

3. Alicia’s father says a woman’s place is sleeping, so she can get up early “with the tortilla star” to take care of the family.

4. Alicia is afraid of her father because he thinks she should be at home taking care of the family instead of in school studying.

5. Darius’s comment impresses Esperanza because he “made it simple.”

6. Esperanza says she can never have too much sky.

7. Nenny is naming the clouds.

8. Esperanza gets mad at them because they insult her mother.

9. Esperanza says they have 30 different names for snow.

10. Lucy says there are only two different kinds—clean and dirty. Nenny says there are a “million zillion” kinds.

Part VI: The Family of Little Feet and A Rice Sandwich

Study Questions
1. Where do Rachel, Lucy, and Esperanza get the high-heeled shoes?

2. What does Mr. Benny say about their shoes?

3. What does the bum man offer Rachel?

4. Why do the girls hide the shoes when they come home?

5.Why does Esperanza want to eat in the canteen?

6. How does Esperanza convince her mother to write the permission note?

7. What does Nenny do for lunch?

8. Why doesn’t Sister Superior let Esperanza have lunches in the canteen?

9. Why does Sister Superior assume Esperanza lives in the ugly three-flats?

10. Was the canteen what Esperanza expected?

1. They get the shoes from the mother of the Family of Little Feet.

2. Mr. Benny says those shoes are dangerous.

3. The bum man offers Rachel $1.00 for a kiss.

4. The girls hide the shoes because they are “tired of being beautiful” and aren’t ready to handle it.

5. Esperanza wants to eat in the canteen because she thinks the kids who eat there are “special.”

6. For three days in a row, she tells her mother that she is too skinny and that her mother will appreciate her more if she’s not home for lunch every day.

7. Nenny goes to her friend Gloria’s, where they watch cartoons.

8. Sister Superior says Esperanza lives too close to school to have to stay for lunch.

9. Sister Superior assumes that because Esperanza is Chicana, she is poor and lives in the worst conditions.

10. No, the canteen has nothing special about it.

Part VII: Chanclas, Hips, and The First Job

Study Questions
1. What occasion is Esperanza’s family celebrating in “Chanclas”?

2. Why does Esperanza not want to dance?

3. Who finally gets Esperanza to dance?

4. Who watches Esperanza dance all night?

5. Why does Esperanza agree with the stupid thing that Nenny says?

6. In what way are hips “scientific”?

7. What does Nenny say swaying one’s hips is for?

8. What is Esperanza’s first job?

9. Why doesn’t Esperanza eat lunch in the lunchroom?

10. What happens with the Oriental man?

1. They are celebrating her cousin’s baptism.

2. Esperanza doesn’t...

(The entire section is 194 words.)

Part VIII: Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark, Born Bad, and Elenita, Cards, Palm, Water

Study Questions
1. Whose funeral must Esperanza’s father attend?

2. Why does Esperanza hold her father?

3. Why does Esperanza think she will go to hell?

4. What is Esperanza’s theory about disease?

5. What does Esperanza discover when she reads The Waterbabies to her aunt?

6. What does Aunt Lupe say to Esperanza about writing?

7. What does Esperanza wish she could do while Elenita is getting ready?

8. What interrupts Elenita while she is telling Esperanza’s fortune?

9. How much does Esperanza pay for her fortune?

10. What does Elenita tell Esperanza about her future?


(The entire section is 221 words.)

Part IX: Geraldo No Last Name, Edna’s Ruthie, The Earl of Tennessee, and Sire

Study Questions
1. Where does Marin meet Geraldo?

2. How does Geraldo die?

3. Why can’t the authorities notify anyone about Geraldo’s death?

4. What is special about Ruthie?

5. Why doesn’t Ruthie go with Edna’s friends to play bingo?

6. What does Earl do for a living?

7. What does Earl’s wife look like?

8. What happens when Esperanza looked back at Sire?

9. According to Esperanza’s parents, what kind of boy is Sire? What kind of girl is Lois?

10. What does Esperanza want to do at night?

1. Marin meets Geraldo at a dance.

2. Geraldo dies in a hit-and-run...

(The entire section is 202 words.)

Part X: Four Skinny Trees and No Speak English

Study Questions
1. Who planted the four skinny trees in Esperanza’s yard?

2. Does Nenny appreciate the trees?

3. What do the trees say to Esperanza while she sleeps?

4. How is Esperanza like the skinny trees?

5. Why does Esperanza like the skinny trees?

6. What theories do people have about why Mamacita won’t come out?

7. How many English words does Mamacita know?

8. What did Esperanza’s father eat for three months when he first came to the United States?

9. What does Mamacita’s husband want her to do?

10. What does Mamacita’s baby learn from the TV?

1. The city planted...

(The entire section is 205 words.)

Part XI: Rafaela Who Drinks Coconut & Papaya Juice on Tuesdays and Sally

Study Questions
1. Why does Rafaela’s husband lock her up on Tuesday nights?

2. Where does Rafaela want to go?

3. What does Rafaela ask the girls to do?

4. What does Rafaela wish for?

5. What does Sally’s father say about her beauty?

6. What does Esperanza want to learn from Sally?

7. What does Esperanza’s mother say about wearing black?

8. Why aren’t Sally and Cheryl friends anymore?

9. What does Sally do before she goes home from school?

10. What do most people seem to think of Sally? What are they waiting for?

1. Rafaela’s husband is afraid she’ll run away while...

(The entire section is 215 words.)

Part XII: Minerva Writes Poems and Bums in the Attic

Study Questions
1. How old is Minerva?

2. What does Minerva do “every night and every day”?

3. What do Esperanza and Minerva share?

4. What is Minerva’s biggest trouble?

5. Is there anything Esperanza can do to help Minerva?

6. Where does Esperanza’s father work? What does he do?

7. Why doesn’t Esperanza want to go with the family to look at the houses anymore?

8. What does Esperanza think about people who live on hills?

9. What will guests in Esperanza’s house think is causing the noise in her attic?

10. What does Esperanza say she’ll never forget?

1. Minerva is...

(The entire section is 224 words.)

Part XIII: Beautiful & Cruel, A Smart Cookie, and What Sally Said

Study Questions
1. What has Esperanza decided she will not do?

2. Why does Esperanza begin a “war”? What does she have?

3. How will she fight this war?

4. What kinds of things can Esperanza’s mom do?

5. What can’t she do?

6. What would Esperanza’s mother like to do someday?

7. Why did Esperanza’s mother quit school?

8. What advice does Esperanza’s mother give her?

9. How does Sally explain her bruises at school?

10. Why does Sally’s father beat her?

1. Esperanza has decided she will not be “tame.”

2. Esperanza begins a war because she is not...

(The entire section is 202 words.)

Part XIV: The Monkey Garden, Red Clowns, and Linoleum Roses

Study Questions
1. What happened in the garden after the monkey left?

2. Why did they go to the garden?

3. What does Sally have to do to get her keys back?

4. What does Esperanza do to try to help Sally?

5. Why does Esperanza want to die?

6. Why does Sally leave Esperanza alone at the carnival?

7. What happens to Esperanza while she is waiting for Sally?

8. What are the lies Esperanza accuses Sally of telling?

9. Why does Sally get married?

10. Why isn’t Sally happy?

1. After the monkey left, the garden grew wild.

2. They went to the garden to play and to...

(The entire section is 197 words.)

Part XV: The Three Sisters and Alicia & I Talking on Edna’s Steps

Study Questions
1. When did Lucy and Rachel’s sister die?

2. Who are las comadres?

3. What is the significance of the dog crying and the bird flying in the window?

4. What do the sisters say about Esperanza’s name?

5. What does Esperanza wish for?

6. How did Esperanza feel about her wish?

7. Where is Alicia from?

8. How long has Esperanza lived on Mango Street?

9. What does Alicia tell Esperanza about Mango Street?

10. What does Esperanza want before she comes back to Mango Street?

1. She died in August.

2. Las comadres are Rachel and Lucy’s aunts.


(The entire section is 159 words.)

Part XVI: A House of My Own and Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes

Study Questions
1. What kind of house does Esperanza want?

2. Will anyone live with her in this house?

3. What does Esperanza like to do?

4. Where does Esperanza tell her stories?

5. What story is Esperanza going to tell?

6. What color is the house on Mango Street?

7. What house does Esperanza remember most?

8. What happens when Esperanza writes about Mango Street?

9. What will Esperanza pack when she leaves Mango Street?

10. Why will Esperanza come back to Mango Street?

1. Esperanza wants a quiet and clean house that’s all her own.

2. No, she will live alone.


(The entire section is 163 words.)