The House on Mango Street


Sandra Cisneros

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The House on Mango Street: Chapter 31 Summary & Analysis

Rafaela is another neighbor of Esperanza’s. On Tuesdays Rafaela’s husband goes out to play poker and he locks Rafaela into their apartment. He is afraid she will escape because she is so beautiful. The apartment is on the third floor, and Rafaela leans out the window and listens to the music from the bar down the street. She wants to dance there while she is still young. Sometimes she drops a dollar out the window so Esperanza and the other children can go buy her a coconut or papaya juice, which they then send up on a clothesline. At the bar there are women older than Rafaela who can dance, flirt, and go in and out of apartments freely, but Esperanza muses that there is always someone with “sweeter drinks” who could trap them just like Rafaela is trapped.
Rafaela is yet another trapped woman, and another example of a possible path that Esperanza wants to avoid. Clearly Rafaela has given into her love of being desirable and sacrificed her freedom in doing so. Esperanza implies that even if Rafaela escaped her husband, she would only go to a bar and find another oppressive man. Esperanza’s writerly voice grows stronger here, and she is able to understand more about the states of the women of Mango Street, as well as her own inner conflict between sexuality and autonomy.
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