Esperanza explains that the boys and girls “live in separate worlds” in her neighborhood. For example, Carlos and Kiki (her brothers) don’t speak to Esperanza outside of the house just because she’s a girl. Esperanza can only socialize with her sister Nenny, who is too young to be her real friend and must constantly be taken care of. Esperanza dreams of having a best friend of her own one day. Without such a friend she is like a red balloon “tied to an anchor.”
Esperanza already understands some of the gender disparity in her society, but for now it is innocent and confined to her siblings. Her desire for a best friend “of her own” is an early incarnation of her goal of autonomy. More images of flying will recur later, as symbol of an escape through beauty or physically leaving Mango Street.