Earl is another of Esperanza’s neighbors. He lives in Edna’s basement and works at night as a jukebox repairman. The children only see him when he comes out during the day to tell them to be quiet. He has two excitable black dogs (which leap “like an apostrophe and a comma), and he speaks with a Southern accent. Sometimes he gives the children old records. Earl supposedly has a wife, and many of the neighbors have seen her enter his apartment, but they all describe her very differently. They only agree that Earl leads her quickly inside and they don’t stay long.
Contrasted to Ruthie (and the other trapped women), Earl represents the sexual double standard of the neighborhood. He can do whatever he wants with as many women as he wants without being judged. Esperanza rather naively assumes the different-looking women entering his apartment are all actually his wife, but in fact they are probably different prostitutes. Esperanza’s description of the dogs is surprisingly poetic, and shows she is getting stronger at making poetic connections and finding beauty among the ugly or mundane.