A smart cookie

“’I could’ve been somebody, you know?’ my mother says,” Sandra Cisneros writes about Esperanza’s mother in her book The House on Mango Street, the story of a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago.

The mother “has lived in this city her whole life. She can speak two languages. She can sing opera….She used to draw when she had time. Now she draws with a needle and thread, little knotted rosebuds, tulips made of silk thread. Someday she would like to the ballet. Someday she would like to see a play….

“’I could’ve been somebody, you know? Esperanza, you go to school. Study hard….’

“Then out of nowhere: ‘Shame is a bad thing, you know? I keeps you down. You want to know why I quit school? Because I didn’t have nice clothes. No clothes. But I had brains….I was a smart cookie then.’”

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