Character Analysis Sally (The House on Mango Street)


Sally, perhaps even younger than Marin, is not so innocent, for — although "romance" (that is, falling in love and getting married) is part of the sexual game she plays — she has a more urgent reason to play it. Like Marin, she wishes to be taken away by a man; unlike the other girl, Sally needs to be rescued from a home life that has turned into a nightmare. Sally's aunts ran away from home with men, thus bringing "shame" upon their family. The fact that they were probably driven to leave in the same way that Sally is driven makes no difference; it is, according to the tradition in which Sally's father is steeped, a woman's responsibility to remain pure until her wedding day. This means that she must not behave provocatively, and because (as he knows, being a man) almost any female behavior is provocative, she must be warned and punished frequently.

Sally's father beats her with his fists, his belt. In his defense, it should be said that he probably does love Sally; he himself is driven by sexual and cultural forces he has no way of understanding, and, not understanding them, he perpetuates them into another generation. Sally's mother abets him, lies for him, treats Sally's cuts and bruises, and allows the cycle to continue. Sally sees only one way out: She must find a man who will marry her. In order to do this, she fights with her long-time "best friend" (significantly it is a physical fight; physical violence is what Sally knows) and betrays Esperanza's friendship. And when Sally finds a husband, he turns out to be as violent, as jealous, as controlling, and as ignorant as her father — but then, what else might be expected of someone who would marry a desperate 13-year-old?

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