The House on Mango Street


Sandra Cisneros

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The House on Mango Street: Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Esperanza, Rachel, and Lucy all pray for themselves – they think they are going to hell because they made fun of Esperanza’s Aunt Lupe. Aunt Lupe was beautiful and a good swimmer in her youth, but she has been an invalid all of Esperanza’s life. Esperanza wonders when the curse of her sickness fell upon Aunt Lupe. She has heard that Lupe dove into the pool the wrong way once, or fell from a high stool, but Esperanza thinks that disease picks people randomly.
Esperanza questions the cruel randomness of fate, like the fact that she ended up on Mango Street, where she does not want to belong. Aunt Lupe is another trapped woman, though one of the only ones not trapped by a man in some way. Lupe represents a mythological seer in some ways, as she is blind and prophetic but mocked by others (which are typical traits and public receptions of seers in Greek myth).
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The game the three girls were playing involved one of them imitating a person and then the other two having to guess who it was. Usually they picked famous people, but one day they decided to imitate Aunt Lupe. Esperanza doesn’t know why, because they all liked her aunt. Esperanza then starts to reminisce – she used to bring books to Lupe and read them out loud. One day Esperanza whispered one of her own poems, a poem about wanting freedom. Lupe told Esperanza that she must keep writing, as it will keep her free. Esperanza returns to describing the game, and she reveals that Aunt Lupe died on the same day that they imitated her.
Lupe is the first person to connect Esperanza’s love of writing with her desire to escape Mango Street. Esperanza’s poem shows what is on her mind – becoming her own person and finding freedom – and Lupe offers a real solution and “prediction” that Esperanza can find freedom and identity through pursuing her writing. Lupe’s death makes Esperanza look back and give more weight to her words, and only then does she realize Lupe’s wisdom.
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