Today was my first job. I put on the navy blue dress which made me look older, and had to lie about my age. After eating lunch in one of the bathroom stalls, I went to sit on the bench in the coatroom. A few minutes later, an older Oriental man came and we started talking about how I was just starting, and how I could sit with him during lunch. “What a cordial man.” I thought to myself; he was a nice man, or at least that’s what I thought. Then, he asked if I knew what day it was and he said it was his birthday, and asked for a birthday kiss. Because he had definitely gained my trust by then, I didn’t see what was wrong in giving the sweet old men a birthday kiss. But when my lips were about to touch his cheek, he instantly pressed my face against his lips, and wouldn’t let go. I thought the kiss was innocent, but I had no idea I would have been assaulted by the men. After the men let go off my face, I was speechless, shocked, horrified, and full of regret. I only thought about leaving, and getting away. I felt so resentful about what had happened, and immediately regretted ever agreeing to kiss the old man on the cheek in the first place. I am scared, resentful, confused and guilty, to finally see what it really means to be older. I have seen the reality of society, how men really see us, young ladies. How dressing up, and lying about my age will only make people think I am actually older. I am becoming a woman, and I now see how most of us women are powerless here on Mango Street.
In what way does the incident help define the coming-of-age theme?
The incident helps define coming of age in different ways. We can see how sexuality is not as innocent as in the previous vignettes, where they are talking through it with rhymes and games, but it is taking place in reality. We can see how Esperanza came back to her childish ways by being shy by hiding in the closet and eating in one of the bathroom stalls.
-This is an example of the sexual double standard of society.
-The time she came home all wet because Tito had pushed her in the water hydrant was the first example of flirting Esperanza admits to.
-Esperanza was not sure if she could sit down, so she imitated others around her, to do the same. This an example of coming of age because when you are growing up, you often depend on imitating others, as a way of learning.