Study Guide

The House on Mango Street Chapter 4

By Sandra Cisneros

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Chapter 4

My Name

  • The narrator tells us her name is the Spanish word for "hope," and tells us it reminds her of a lot of sad things, including the Mexican records her dad plays that sound like sobbing.
  • The narrator is named after her great-grandmother, a "wild horse of a woman" who refused to get married until the narrator's grandfather carried her off by force (4.3).
  • The story goes that great-grandma never forgave her captor, and spent her whole life looking out the window longingly.
  • Great-grandma's name was Esperanza, and it's our narrator's name, too.
  • Esperanza thinks her name sounds harsh when her English-speaking schoolmates say it, but that is sounds softer in Spanish.
  • Her sister's name, Magdalena, is even worse, in her opinion. But at least Magdalena gets a nickname – Nenny – while Esperanza always has to be Esperanza.
  • Esperanza wants to give herself a new name that would feel more like the real her. Something like Zeze the X.

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