The House on Mango Street


Sandra Cisneros

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The House on Mango Street: Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

Esperanza gets her fortune read by Elenita the “witch woman.” Elenita works in her own kitchen with her two children at home, and the TV is on, and the furniture is covered in plastic. She gives Esperanza a glass of water and asks if she sees anyone’s face in it, but Esperanza can only see bubbles. Elenita starts to cut the Tarot cards, but Esperanza is distracted by the Bugs Bunny cartoon in the background.
Time will later show that Lupe’s “fortune” is true, but for now Esperanza seeks an easier solution. The description of the surroundings and Elenita’s methods undercut Esperanza’s hopefulness, and she is unable to buy into the “magic” even though she wants to.
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Elenita takes Esperanza’s palm and lays out the cards, and she sees jealousy, sorrow, and luxury. Esperanza wants to know if there is a house in her future, but Elenita only sees “a home in the heart.” Esperanza is disappointed that she spent her five dollars for this, and Elenita can tell, so she gives Esperanza some superstitious remedies for ailments. Elenita tries reading her fortune again, but once more she can only see a house in the heart. Esperanza leaves, disappointed.
Esperanza is disappointed by this fortune, but it might be more valuable than she thinks. Building a “home in the heart” – that is, a sense of selfhood and belonging that do not depend on external surroundings – will be stronger and safer than any physical building, and make Esperanza able to weather attacks of violence and shame like those she experiences.
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