Are you Esperanza?

That might be the one question Sandra Cisneros gets again and again. Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street has become a classic. It’s popularity has grown, and with it the questions. On A House of My Own, the author includes an essay published on the bestseller’s 10th anniversary. It answers one of the most frequently asked question about The House on Mango Street.

She answers in the most Cisneros way possible.

Am I Esperanza? Yes. And no. And then again, maybe. One thing I know for sure: you the reader, are Esperanza. So I should ask, What happened to you? Did you stay in school? Did you go to college? Did you have that baby? Were you a victim? Did you tell anyone about it or did you keep it inside? Did you let it overpower and eat you? Did you wind up in jail? Did someone harm you? Did you hurt someone? What happened to Margarita, Fatboy, Gizmo, Angelica, Leticia, Maria, Ruben, Silvia, Jose, Dagoberto, Refugia, Bobby? Will you go back to school, find somebody to take care of the baby while you’re finishing your diploma, go to college, work two jobs so you can do it, get help from the substance-abuse people, walk out of a bad marriage, send paychecks to the woman who bore your child, learn to be a human being you’re not ashamed of? Did you run away from home? Did you join a gang? Did you get fired? Did you give up? Did you get angry? You are Esperanza. You can’t forget who you are.