"Those who don't know any better come into our neighborhood scared." With these words, Esperanza begins a brief discussion of how "outsiders" are frightened of those in the Mango Street community. On the other hand, the "insiders" are just as frightened when they travel elsewhere, too.
In three short paragraphs, Cisneros unveils the heart of racial tensions, not only in the Chicago of her novel but also in most places: mutual fear and suspicion. People simply do not know each other. Human beings will not accept each other as just that-human beings, with all the good and the bad that belonging to the species brings with it. People like Cathy's family (see "Cathy Queen of Cats") lump all "brown" people together, even though, as Esperanza points out, the Mango Street community is made up of distinct and diverse individuals: "Davey the Baby's brother. Rosa's Eddie V. ." and so on. And those who live in the Mango Street community are afraid to venture outside of it-although this fear is also an understandable consequence of the way the cultural majority tends to treat the minority. Fear breeds fear, Cisneros-through Esperanza-teaches us. "Those who don't know" become "those who don't': those who don't venture beyond their own kind, those who don't discover the wonderful diversity of the human community.
The House on Mango Street: Novel Summary: Those Who Don't