Esperanza's father comes into her room early one morning to tell her that her grandfather has died. Because Esperanza is the oldest child, she will have to break the news to her siblings, while her father returns to Mexico for the funeral. Sensing her father's need for comfort and her own fear of losing him, Esperanza holds her father tightly as he cries.
This brief scene marks yet another moment in Esperanza's growth. "I have never seen my Papa cry," she says-an experience with which most readers will be able to relate. What are we to do when we first see our parents cry, when we realize that they are not the all-powerful beings we take them to be when we are children? Additionally, this vignette forms an interesting contrast to "There Was An Old Woman." because of its frank acknowledgement of the grandfather's death, whereas the fact of Angel Vargas' death was only (if strongly) implied. Death is present in the world of both children and adults, of course, but only grown-ups have responsibilities in the wake of a person's death. The death of Esperanza's grandfather, therefore, moves her further into the adult world. Readers may wonder if she, too, will someday be an adult "who wakes up tired in the dark," sad and in need of comfort, even as Esperanza-in another demonstration of new responsibility, and of increasing maturity-comforts her father here.
The House on Mango Street: Novel Summary: Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark