Character Role Analysis
"Them" - the boys at the carnival. Or, Society.
It's hard to identify an antagonist in this novel. Undoubtedly, Esperanza faces many challenges – her family is poor, she's growing up in a bad neighborhood, she's a girl in a sexist environment – but these obstacles are societal issues, and can't really be blamed on any one person. Even her rape is characterized more as a societal problem than a particular crime with an aggressor and a victim. The anonymity of the rapist and his gang, who are only described by way of dirty fingernails, a sour smell, and high black gym shoes, erases their individuality and makes them seem like they could be anybody.