Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
The neighborhood is a busy place filled with children and adults engaged in a number of activities. Children play volleyball in the alley, and boys riding homemade bicycles shout at girls walking by. Kids bend trees, bounce between parked cars, and hang upside-down from their knees. A boy pushes Esperanza into an open water hydrant, and other boys sit on bikes in front of a house pitching pennies. Neighbors come out to see the crash of a big yellow Cadillac, listen for the sirens, and watch as cops handcuff the driver. In front of the tavern, a bum sits on a stoop. People wait to take the subway train to downtown. Strangers to the neighborhood fear that it is dangerous; however, the neighborhood is a place in which Esperanza feels safe.
Precious Blood Church. Center of social life for Esperanza’s family and neighbors. On the day of a cousin’s baptism, the family members dance in the church basement, which has been rented out for the occasion. People wear their finest clothes and enjoy the party, the dancing, and eating tamales as children run all over the place.
Monkey Garden. Secret place in a neighborhood yard where a family that owned a monkey once lived. After the family left, Esperanza and her friends make a clubhouse of the yard, using the back of an old blue pickup. Filled with sunflowers, spiders, worms, beetles, ants, ladybugs, and a hibiscus tree, the Monkey Garden is a place where the children’s mothers cannot find them.
*Mexico. Original home to many people in the neighborhood whose culture continues to influence their lives. Esperanza’s father flies to Mexico for the funeral of his mother after she dies. When Mamacita’s husband brings her to Chicago to be with him, she becomes homesick for Mexico and does not come out of the apartment because she does not speak English.
White house. Esperanza’s dream home. One day Esperanza wants to escape her dreary surroundings and move to a home of her own, not a flat or apartment, not a man’s house, or a daddy’s house, but her own house–one with a porch and pretty purple petunias. She yearns for a house as quiet as snow, a white house surrounded by trees with a big yard and no fence. Her dream house would have running water, a basement, and at least three washrooms. It would have no nosy neighbors watching, no motorcycles and cars, no sheets and towels and laundry, only trees and plenty of blue sky. Esperanza wants a house on a hill like the one with a garden where her father works. She thinks that people who live on hills sleep so close to the stars they forget the people who live on earth. As she describes the house she wants to own, she points to the dismal surroundings of her present life. Esperanza’s dream house becomes synonymous with individual economic and social independence, which one can obtain through education and the cultivation of one’s native talents.