The House on Mango Street is a coming-of-age story about a young girl named Esperanza. Like many coming-of-age stories, this one deals with Esperanza's loss of innocence and familiarization with sex. Tragically, her education in these matters isn't voluntary – while Esperanza tries to cling to a childhood that she's not really ready to leave behind, she's threatened by sexual violence as soon as she enters adolescence. Esperanza is forcibly initiated into the world of sex when a group of boys rapes her at a carnival.
Esperanza's environment, in which she moves freely as a child, becomes a threatening place as soon as the girl enters the gendered and sexualized world of adulthood.
For Esperanza, sexual interactions with men are never voluntary, and always pose a threat to her independence. Esperanza is constantly pressured to accept the greater and greater infractions of her freedom posed by sex.