A girl Esperanza befriends as she starts to get older. Sally is more sexually mature and seems beautiful and glamorous to Esperanza. She has an abusive father and lets herself be taken advantage of by… (read full character analysis)
The protagonist and narrator of the novel, a young Chicana (Mexican-American) teenager whose name means “hope” in Spanish. The book follows a year of her life in a barrio (Latino neighborhood) of Chicago, during which she both experiences traumatic events and matures sexually, emotionally, and artistically.
Esperanza’s mother, one of the strongest women of the novel but rarely present in the plot. She is often a comfort to Esperanza, but she regrets dropping out of school and never “making something” of her life.
Esperanza’s father who works a lot and is rarely around. A benign presence compared to most of the abusive father figures in the book.
Magdalena “Nenny” Cordero
Esperanza’s little sister, who Esperanza must be constantly responsible for. Nenny is often lost in her own dream world, and sometimes her immaturity makes Esperanza embarrassed in front of her friends.
One of Esperanza’s best friends. Lucy was born in Texas and is the older of two Chicana sisters. They live across the street from Esperanza and share in many of her early adventures.
Lucy’s younger sister and Esperanza’s other best friend. Rachel was born in Chicago.
A young woman who attends university to try and change her life for the better. Her father makes her wake up early and do chores because he sees that as proper woman’s work, however, so Alicia must stay up late at night to study.
A young woman who is similar in age to Esperanza, but already married with two children and an abusive husband. Minerva writes poems and she and Esperanza share their writing with each other.
An Anglo-American girl who is Esperanza’s first friend on Mango Street. Her family moves away when Esperanza’s family moves in because the neighborhood is “getting bad.”
One of Esperanza’s brothers. Carlos rarely appears, and Esperanza acknowledges that her brothers live in a separate world of boys.
Esperanza’s other brother, who also rarely appears.
Esperanza’s aunt, who was once a strong and beautiful swimmer, but has been sick and bed-ridden all of Esperanza’s life. Esperanza reads Lupe her poems and Lupe encourages her to keep writing.
One of the many unruly, fatherless Vargas children. Angel falls from a great height and dies.
A neighborhood woman whose husband abandoned her and their many wild children. She is overwhelmed by the children and has no control over their dangerous antics.
An adult neighbor who still acts like a child and plays with Esperanza and her friends.
The Three Sisters
Three old aunts related to Rachel and Lucy, who appear for a funeral and predict Esperanza’s future. Esperanza thinks they are magical, and they do seem to symbolize the Three Fates of mythology.
Esperanza’s first real crush, a neighborhood boy who stares at her. Sire has a girlfriend named Lois, and Esperanza watches them hanging around the neighborhood, though her parents say Sire is a “punk.”
A neighborhood woman whose husband locks her in at night because she is beautiful and he fears she will leave him. She sends money down on a clothesline for Esperanza and her friends to buy her coconut or papaya juice.
An overweight neighborhood woman. Her husband worked hard to bring her from Mexico, but once she arrives on Mango Street, Mamacita never leaves the apartment and refuses to learn English.
The only named neighborhood boy, he pushes Esperanza into the water spurting from an open fire hydrant, and later steals Sally’s keys to get her to kiss him and his friends.
A young Mexican man that Marin dances with one night and then is hit by a car. He dies because no surgeon helps him, and no one knows his last name.
A “witch-woman” who Esperanza visits to learn her fortune. She tells Esperanza that she sees a “home in the heart.”
Esperanza’s uncle, who dances with her after her cousin’s baptism.
Esperanza’s aunt, who gets her the job at the photo developing store.
Meme’s family moves into Cathy’s vacated house. His real name is Juan and he has two dogs, and later he breaks his arms jumping out of a tree.
Marin’s cousin, a boy from a Puerto Rican family that moves into the Ortiz’s basement. Louie is friend of Esperanza’s brothers and cousins with the young man who steals the Cadillac.
A neighbor who sleeps all day and works at night. He supposedly has a wife, but each neighbor sees him bringing home a different woman.
Sire’s girlfriend, who doesn’t know how to tie her shoes. Esperanza imagines being Lois and being held by Sire.
The woman that Esperanza got her name from. She didn’t want to get married but was forced into it, and so looked silently out the window her whole life.
A nun at Esperanza’s school, who distrusts Esperanza’s mother’s note and thinks her family lives in a run-down tenement.
A boy at school who is usually obnoxious but once says something Esperanza finds wise.
Ruthie’s mother, a mean landlady.
A man who tells Esperanza and her friends that it is dangerous for girls their age to wear high-heeled shoes.