Beauty and its Beholders
Beauty is an intricate detail that is constantly spoken of within the story. It is a character trait held only by the women and it has become a theme within the novel. I believe that beauty in this story is contrasted by jealousy and lust – with only the women to suffer from this alone.
Beauty causes the jealousy of Esperanza. Her dreams of being the beautiful and cruel woman who laughs all the men away is starkly contrasted by her own opinion of herself and the way her friends make fun of her. She calls herself an ugly daughter, her friends say she has a fat, ugly face, and she is quick to follow Sally around just to be around a girl who boys constantly find beauty in. This slight jealousy causes Esperanza to get caught up at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Rafaela is one of the first women we see in the story who’s beauty comes at a disadvantage. Her husband locks her in the home on Tuesdays when he goes out to play poker. Its a claim that because she is so beautiful, she will escape the apartment. This treatment shows that even though Rafaela has a trait that she cannot change, she is treated as an item of property and not valued like the woman she is.
Rafaela is not the only woman to suffer from her beauty. Sally is routinely beaten by her father and her impression on Esperanza makes sex appear to be an amazing thing.
Beautiful people always tell the truth This causes Esperanza to blame Sally when the “Red Clowns” incident happened. “Sally, you lied.” Only three words, yet so strong in there meaning. This is the point in which I believe Esperanza finally comes to grips with her jealousy towards beauty and understands how beauty can affect its owner.
The lust of the men who attack Esperanza, the lust of the boys who tease Sally, and even the lust of Rafaela’s husband all result in the mistreatment of the women who are involved. It wasn’t beauty that caused these women to be mistreated, but the men who undervalued what beauty really is and went on a path to fill their own desires.
This book gives some real world implications that we are facing today. Blaming victims of sexual attacks with statements like, “You knew what you were doing when you went out looking like that” is diminishing the value of women. This novel faces the fact that beauty is not an offense. Women shouldn’t have to face the issue of being attacked or held to restraints because of their looks.