Do names matter? Some people may say that they don’t and that names only affect us when we let them, but I disagree, names are an essential part of any human relationship because names like all words carry weight and they do matter. Names can be used as terms of affection/ love (mi amor, sweetheart, baby, carino, etc.) and they can be used for hate (idiot, b*****, h**, bastard, etc.), throughout cultures in the word the mere utterance of a name holds great power and significance. In some cultures saying the name of a loved one who has passed or the name of a newborn child will trap their soul in an endless and empty spiritual world denying them the very essence that makes living worthwhile and human relationships meaningful, it is a curse, names define who you are and what you will become because they are a part of your identity.
Identity, what does that mean for Esperanza, the storyteller in Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street?” Esperanza, she compares her name to many things, but the most important aspect of her name that she describes is the fate of the person she was named after. Why does that matter, the fate of the person was their own, was it not? It matters because there must have been some reason why you named that child after that person, why would you name a child after a person who had all freedom and joy forcefully taken away from them (this statement is only based on what Esperanza tells us). Esperanza describes to us her inability to escape her name and her determination to escape the fate intricately connected to her name. Her name defines a large part of her identity because no matter where she is she is Esperanza is Esperanza wherever she goes, she is never a “Nenny.”
Baltimore no matter what part of the city people are in, no matter how beautiful the neighborhood Baltimore will always be known, outside of the city and in some parts of it, an incredibly ugly and unsafe city with nothing to offer. Baltimore cannot escape the meaning in its name, no matter what it does; the cities name is an important if not incredibly relevant part of its identity. Why do we name cities and schools? Why do we make distinctions between one block and the next? If all it is, is a method of finding our way around, then why is there pride in a name, why do we “represent” the school we are from or the city we live in? Why does the name of where we are from matter? Names matter because they are essential parts of identity for people and cities alike, they help to define us and connect us, they are important.