The Name Esperanza and Hope: “My Name” by Sandra Cisneros

The excerpt “My Name” by Sandra Cisneros is a work that touches on names and how they are related to one’s identity. Throughout the text, the author speaks about the context behind her name and how she perceives it. Moreover, the main character of the story looks back on how the life of her great-grandmother, whom she was named after, may have been affected by it.

The narrator of the text starts by explaining how her name is perceived in English and Spanish. The young girl goes on to say that “Esperanza” carries a far deeper meaning than just “hope” (Cisneros, 179). She goes on to depict the strong emotions and various specific things it encapsulates, such as sadness, the number nine, waiting, and the Mexican music her father plays every Sunday morning.

The main character then moves on to explain why she was named that way, which was due to her great-grandmother having this name. Thus, the girl continues the narrative by telling the story of that woman’s life and how her name may have affected her life and future (Cisneros, 179). In a way, the narrator feels sorry for her great-grandmother as she wonders how that woman coped with being married off against her will.

The protagonist then depicts what really happened to the woman, thus emphasizing how alienating that name feels for her: “I have inherited her name, but I do not want to inherit her place by the window” (Cisneros, 179). The young girl’s great-grandmother later felt very sad and depressed, constantly looking out of her window as she pondered on the devastating situation, she had no way of influencing.

The last two paragraphs of the excerpt further evaluate the narrator’s unwillingness to be associated with that name. Moreover, she says that the people at her school do not understand it because they find it harsh and unpleasant (Cisneros, 179). The narrator thinks of the names she would have preferred instead of the one she was given by her family, thus feeling a disconnection between her name and her identity.

The excerpt is concluded with the narrator’s desire to change her name. In one of the last lines, she says: “I would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees” (Cisneros, 179). This specific line emphasizes all of the aforementioned feelings of distress and discomfort. That way, it sparks the question regarding the reason why she feels so alienated by how she is called.

Primarily, one of the reasons why the girl feels uncomfortable with her name is the woman she was named after. While she feels remorseful for her great-grandmother, she does not fully associate herself with her relative (Cisneros, 179). The narrator fears that she may share the same fate as her great-grandmother, married to a man she does not love and constricted by this problem without a solution or exit.

The girl’s great-grandmother was previously known as a strong woman. However, being married against her will has broken her spirit. The narrator most likely fears that she may follow the woman’s fate if she does not change her name and take control of her own destiny (Cisneros, 179). While the first half of her great-grandmother’s life, which was defined by her independence, is something the girl identifies with, it is the rest of the relative’s life that triggers concerns.

Another reason why the narrator wants to change her name is that she may not fully identify with the meaning behind it. While the girl acknowledges the deeper meaning, it represents in her culture and language, there is a valid reason to believe that the main character sees herself from a different perspective (Cisneros, 179). She believes that being called Lisandra or Maritsa would be more interesting, preferably even Zeze the X. While the girl finds her sister’s name, Magdalena, to be uglier, she acknowledges that it can be altered. “Esperanza”, on the other hand, cannot be abridged in any way, shape, or form.

The aforementioned ideas and the text emphasize that the girl believes that there’s a connection between one’s name, fate, and identity. The fact that she actually knows about the life of the woman she was named after is a strong concern for the girl (Cisneros, 179). In a way, the narrator thinks that by changing her name, she may take control of her fate and separate herself from the clutches of her great-grandmother’s demise. Moreover, the main character wants to be called in a way that would provide a better definition of her identity and personality.

In conclusion, the excerpt “My Name” talks about the correlation between one’s name, identity and fate. The main character was named after her great-grandmother, who was previously a strong woman but met her demise after being married off to a man she did not love. The girl fears that she may share her relative’s fate and does not believe that the concepts defined by “Esperanza” accurately represent her. Thus, she wants to change her name for something that will be a more suitable description of who she is as a person.

Work Cited

Cisneros, Sandra. “My NameThe House on Mango Street (1984): 10-11.

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