Sire is a neighborhood boy who Esperanza develops a crush on. She notices him looking at her as she walks by, and she tries to stare straight ahead and act unafraid. One day she looks back at him for too long, and she feels shaken by her emotions. Esperanza’s parents say Sire is a “punk” and that she should avoid him.
Esperanza continues to sexually mature, and the conflict grows between her desire to be loved by men and her goal of becoming independent and autonomous. Sire represents a possible path for Esperanza – giving up her freedom for an early crush.
Sire has a girlfriend name Lois. She is small and pretty with little pink toenails like “seashells,” but she doesn’t know how to tie her own shoes. Esperanza watches Sire and Lois walking together around the neighborhood, and Lois riding Sire’s bike, and Sire tying Lois’s shoes. Esperanza’s mother says that Lois is the kind of girl that goes “into alleys,” but Esperanza still wonders what it would be like to be Lois. Esperanza feels like “everything is holding its breath” inside of her, and she thinks about Sire, and a dream she had of being held by a boy.
Lois’s inability to tie her shoes – symbols of sexuality – shows her helplessness and insecurity. Esperanza dreams of being in Lois’s place, but it is clear that Lois’s attractiveness lies partly in her helplessness, and Esperanza is too strong to be attractive in that way to the men of Mango Street. Esperanza’s mother’s judgment of Lois’ sexual activity contrasts with Earl’s uncriticized promiscuity.