Esperanza observes that, in her family and community, boys and girls "live in separate worlds." She longs for "a best friend all [her] own," in whom she can confide, in whom she can trust. "Until then," she says, "I am a red balloon, a balloon tied to an anchor."
In addition to establishing Esperanza's longing for a close friend of her own-as opposed to her sister Nenny, who is "too young" to be her friend-this vignette also includes the striking image of Esperanza as a red balloon. Most likely, the balloon symbolizes freedom, with its connotations of floating and flying. The color red may mean that Esperanza regards herself as a "stand-out," bright and vibrant. The "anchor" tying (or weighing) her down is, in the immediate context, Nenny-her younger sister who is Esperanza's "responsibility"-but, in a larger sense, her family as a whole and their experience of poverty on Mango Street.
The House on Mango Street: Novel Summary: Boys & Girls