Mamacita is married to one of Esperanza’s neighbors. Her husband worked hard to bring her and her baby to America. She is a huge woman, and when she emerges from the taxi for the first time she looks like an enormous flower. Once she arrives Mamacita never leaves the apartment, and she refuses to learn English. Some of the neighbors think she never leaves because she is too fat to get down the stairs, but Esperanza thinks it is because Mamacita is afraid of English. Esperanza’s father told her that when he immigrated to the United States, he ate “hamandeggs” for three months because that was the only English word he knew.
Mamacita is not trapped so much by her husband as by her own insecurities. The other neighbors make fun of her appearance, but Esperanza realizes that the reason Mamacita won’t leave the apartment is because of language, not her weight. Esperanza is beginning to understand the power of words, and part of this involves understanding the powerlessness of lacking words, like Mamacita or her father did.
Esperanza describes Mamacita sitting by the window all day, listening to Spanish radio and thinking about her pink house back in Mexico. Sometimes her husband gets angry and yells at her. A final heartbreak for Mamacita is when her baby boy starts to speak English, singing the song from a Pepsi commercial. Mamacita starts to cry and tells him “no speak English” over and over.
Like Esperanza, Mamacita spends much of her time dreaming of a house that she cannot have, but unlike Mamacita, Esperanza wants to work to achieve her dream. The baby’s song shows that Mamacita cannot escape the pervasiveness of the English language.