Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street follows the story of a young girl named Esperanza and her life experiences growing up on Mango Street, the all-Hispanic community at which people of opulence look down upon and grimace. Esperanza has always had an ideal image and dream of what living in a house should be like, and when her life on Mango Street turns out to be nothing like she expected, she struggles to make a home out of the place and tries to figure out her identity while doing so. Esperanza's main goal is to escape Mango Street and build a good life for herself, but ultimately come back to save those who can't escape themselves. Throughout the novel, and because of her environment, Esperanza is placed in situations where she is forced to grow up as the people and life of Mango Street take her innocence away from her.
Cisneros writes the novel as many vignettes recalling specific days or people that have somehow impacted Esperanza. Although Cisneros doesn't specifically clarify, it is implied that Esperanza is around 12 years old. In the beginning of the novel, she has the heart and innocence of a child that can be seen through the way she interacts with the other children in the neighborhood. Upon meeting her first two friends Rachel and Lucy, Esperanza chips in five dollars to share a bike between the three of them. While the purchase isn't ideal and there is no legitimate way to regulate equal sharing of the bike, Esperanza is carefree about it and just wants to make friends. "Down, down Mango Street we go. Rachel, Lucy, me. Our new bicycle. Laughing the crooked ride back." (Cisneros 16), shows the simple happiness and innocence of Esperanza. She doesn't care that they have to share, and she doesn't care about the potential dangers of three girls piling on a bike and the "crooked" ride. Esperanza also calls the bike "new" although it clearly isn't the kind of fresh-tired and shiny "new" that most other kids are used to.