The Theme of this short story written by Sandra Cisneros is poverty. Cisneros begins the story with Incidental Symbolism, a description of the Barbie dolls â€œYours is the one with mean eyes and a ponytailâ€ and â€œMine is the one with bubble hairâ€ and the clothing for the dollsâ€”which evidently they made themselvesâ€”â€œThis and a dress invented from an old sock when we cut holes here and here and here,â€ from a protagonistâ€™s point of view. We can see Cisnerosâ€™s intention was to provide the reader with the type of situation the characters are dealing withâ€“being so poor that they canâ€™t have nice looking Barbie dolls, nice clothing to go with them, and a variety to play with.
The way the characters have their Barbies act, we can also gather how living in poverty has affected the charactersâ€™ behavior, their language, and their outlook on life in general. For example, â€œYour Barbie is roommates with my Barbie, and my Barbieâ€™s boyfriend comes over and your Barbie steals him, okay? Kiss kiss kiss. Then the two fight. You Dumbbell! Heâ€™s mine. Oh no heâ€™s not, you stinky!â€ Except, there really isnâ€™t a boy doll there to play with so they have to pretend heâ€™s there. This is probably all they know how to play with them since they are so poor and donâ€™t get out much. The characters also describe a bought boy doll as â€œstupid-lookingâ€ perhaps because theyâ€™ve never had a brand new doll that didnâ€™t have anything wrong with it. They also made it perfectly clear that if it came down to choosing between a boy doll and more clothing, they would prefer more clothing for a Christmas present.
The Exposition of the plot began at a â€œflea marketâ€. Cisneros shows symbolism considerably here when she describes what the â€œflea marketâ€ contained.