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 "Yours is the one with mean eyes and a ponytail- and "Mine is the one with bubble hair- and the clothing for the dolls "which evidently they made themselves ""This and a dress invented from an old sock when we cut holes here and here and here,"" from a protagonist's point of view. We can see Cisneros's intention was to provide the reader with the type of situation the characters are dealing with-being so poor that they can'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 characters' behavior, their language, and their outlook on life in general. For example, "Your Barbie is roommates with my Barbie, and my Barbie's boyfriend comes over and your Barbie steals him, okay? Kiss kiss kiss. Then the two fight. You Dumbbell! He's mine. Oh no he's not, you stinky!- Except, there really isn't a boy doll there to play with so they have to pretend he's there. This is probably all they know how to play with them since they are so poor and don't get out much. The characters also describe a bought boy doll as "stupid-looking- perhaps because they've never had a brand new doll that didn'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 "flea market-. Cisneros shows symbolism considerably here when she describes what the "flea market- contained. For example, "Lying on the street next to some tool bits, and platform shoes with the heels all squashed, and a fluorescent green wicker wastebasket, and aluminum foil, and hubcaps, and a pink shag rug, and windshield wiper blades, and dusty mason jars, and a coffee can full of rusty nails-.