This is Esperanza’s reply to Alicia in “Alicia & I Talking on Edna’s Steps” after Alicia insists that Esperanza does have a house, and that it is right there on Mango Street. This exchange occurs near the end of the novel, when Esperanza is realizing she does indeed belong on Mango Street. Instead of insisting that she does not belong, here she says she doesn’t want to belong, which suggests that Esperanza understands that she actually does. She has realized that she is not intrinsically different from the other women in her neighborhood. She has met other women in the neighborhood who write, women who share her desire to escape, women who are interested in boys, and women, like Alicia, who desire education. Her previous feelings of superiority and difference were only childish ways of obscuring the truth: Mango Street is part of Esperanza. No matter how far she goes, she will never truly escape it.
The monkey garden, much like the Garden of Eden, is the place where Esperanza loses a large measure of her innocence, and when Esperanza loses her innocent ideals about her friends and community, she cannot return to the garden. For Esperanza and other young people, the monkey garden is a place of childhood games, but Sally and the boys use it for a more grown-up purpose by hiding behind a car and experimenting sexually. Esperanza is appalled by the complicity of the women in her neighborhood with what she sees as the boys’ sexual manipulation of Sally. The boys are playing a game with Sally that only they can win. Tito’s mother doesn’t seem to care, and her indifference gives the boys tacit permission for what they are doing. Additionally, Sally does not want to be saved. Esperanza is dismayed to see that Sally, too, approves of the boys’ manipulation. Esperanza is ashamed that she put herself at such personal risk, arming herself with a brick, only to be laughed away by the girl she tried to protect. The garden has become a place of danger and confusion, and it is no longer hers.