Having a description of her hair in the beginning of the novel, sets up the reader to understand Esperanza. Her hair represents her belief of not conforming to cultural norms. Generally speaking female’s hair have the ability to conform to both bands and barrettes. The author states Esperanza’s hair was not able to obey this. The ability to conform represents the norm, the majority, but for Esperanza this was not so. This novel represented the coming of age, she was questioning her role, her views and exploring the possibility of more. The author wrote in a way that described the Hispanic community of the roles females played. Esperanza did not conform to this role and her hair represents this.
2. What might the narrator mean by calling herself a red balloon tied to an anchor?
Throughout the novel, Esperanza experiences differences relating to the roles and views of both males and females. She is also experiencing the need for more for herself. But because of her need not matching up with the Hispanic cultural norm, during this section I felt lonely for her. Esperanza is aware of this need, as she is represented by the red balloon, waiting to fly away. The cultural norm of her role was her anchor, holding her back.
3. Which of the metaphors that Esperanza uses to describe her name do you find the most striking?
The narrator discussed her aunt as a woman that, “looked out the window her whole life.” Reading her words, she did not seem joyful to share a name with her Aunt as she stated her name meant, “sadness, it means waiting… songs like sobbing.” The narrator has a constant need throughout the novel of wanting more, of leaving. Her aunt seems possessed with the same needs but unfortunately was taken by a male and jailed as if property. Esperanza did not want to end up in a similar position as her Aunt.
4. What do you suppose the symbolic importance might be of the fact that both Esperanza and her great-grandmother were born in the “year of the horse”?
The narrator mentioned the “year of the horse,” was bad luck for females. The sense I absorbed from reading about her Aunt, they held similar views and needs. She was wild, not able to conform to cultural norms of a female, similar to Esperanza’s hair of not being able to “obey barrettes and bands.”
5. What does Marin say is “what matters”?
Marin says “What matters … is for the boys to see us and for us to seem them.” She describes this importance of having the attention of males, as she describes her boyfriend in Puerto Rico. Also the potential of her having to get a job at AVON and look her best to find a husband who will take care of her in their “big house far away” if her boyfriend in Puerto Rico and herself doesn’t work out.
6. Quote one of the metaphors that Cisneros uses to describe how Angel Vargas falls.
“dropped from the sky like a sugar donut, just like a falling star.”
7. What might be symbolically significant in the face that Esperanza says “today we are Cinderella” when they put on the shoes? What parallel might there be between the Cinderella story and what Cisneros is suggesting here?
The prince was in search of the individual who lost their shoe. Once he found her, her life was changed. When the girls put on their shoes and were in the public’s eye, their lives were changed as well. They received attention from the male gender. This is a significant section relating to coming of age for Esperanza. First the author shares her need of wanting more, of leaving and now boys enter the picture. Cinderella was not treated fairly and one might assume did not feel special. When she received the attention of the price, similar to the attention the girls received, they felt grown, special.
8. Why might Esperanza’s upbringing have left her unprepared for working with other people, especially men?
Esperanza was used to taking orders, not in the sense of a slave but she was used to obeying her father,