Everyone agrees that Miguel must have taken the money orders. Alfonso promises to repay the money, but Esperanza remains angry with Miguel for disrespecting all her hard work and stealing from her. Meanwhile, Mama gets stronger every day, and Esperanza’s work sorting peaches, plums, and nectarines allows her to eat a lot of sweet fruit. One day, Alfonso comes by the shed—Esperanza is worried that something has happened to Mama, but Alfonso insists that Mama is all right. He has received a message from Miguel, asking them all to meet him at the bus station in Bakersfield this afternoon.
This passage shows how despite her anger with Miguel, Esperanza has grown. This time, when she suffers a loss, she doesn’t let her whole life get derailed by it: she is still able to see the hope and sweetness all around her, even in the midst of circumstances she once despised.
Esperanza, Hortensia, and Alfonso ride down to Los Angeles in the heat to await Miguel’s arrival. When his bus finally comes, he steps off the bus looking tired and rumpled. He hugs his parents and then turns to Esperanza. Rather than apologizing for stealing from her, he tells her that he has “brought [her] proof that things will get better.” He turns around to help the last passenger on the bus off—it is Abuelita.
Though returning Abuelita to her family does not completely erase everyone’s fears and problems, Miguel knows that Esperanza is deeply in need of some “proof” that life is worth living, and that hope and happiness can still be found. Here, he delivers her that proof.
Esperanza can hardly believe her eyes. She is overcome with emotion as she embraces her grandmother and breathes in her familiar scent. Miguel admits that he took Esperanza’s money orders and used them to get back to Mexico so that he could bring Abuelita over the border.
Esperanza was so angry with Miguel that she didn’t consider the possibility that he had taken the money in order to help her—now she sees what a true, devoted friend he really is.
Everyone returns to the camp, and though Esperanza asks for Mama right away, Josefina tells her Ramona is sleeping. Esperanza introduces Abuelita to everyone and shows her around, wondering what the old woman must think of the “sad conditions”—all Abuelita wants, though, is to be taken to her daughter. Esperanza shows Abuelita outside to where Mama is napping in the shade of a tree, a stack of crocheting materials at her side. Abuelita gently wakes her daughter, and the two embrace tearfully.
Abuelita doesn’t seem to especially care about where she is or how she lives—she only wants to be reunited with her family, whom she has dearly missed during her lonely year back in Aguascalientes.
Esperanza retrieves her grandmother’s blanket from inside and shows her all the crocheting work she has done, then sits down with Abuelita so that they can finish the final stitches together. Abuelita talks about what has been going on all this time in Mexico. She reveals that she could hardly go to the market without Luis and Marco’s spies following her. Abuelita had been tormented for months by “premonition[s]” that something was wrong with Ramona, but because of Luis and Marco’s intense grip on the town, she had no way of finding out what was happening in America. One day, a nun brought Abuelita a note from Miguel, fished from the poor box—the note told of his plan to get her out of Mexico for good.
This passage shows how even though Miguel set out to retrieve Abuelita to help Esperanza and Ramona’s pain ease, he also rescued her from a dangerous, difficult situation. Miguel is revealed to be not a thief or a liar, but a hero who risked his own safety for the happiness of his loved ones.
That night Miguel and Señor Rodriguez came to collect her from the convent and take her to the train station—Miguel stayed by her side the entire trip north. As Esperanza and Abuelita finish crocheting the blanket, she thinks of the “mountains and valleys” they have both traversed during their year apart.
Things haven’t been easy for Abuelita, either, but she and Esperanza have both emerged onto a new “mountaintop” together after a year of painful highs and lows.
A few weeks later, it is nearly Esperanza’s birthday. She asks Miguel to drive her out to the foothills at sunrise. At the top of a plateau, Esperanza looks out over the valley. She tells Miguel that if one lies down on the ground and waits patiently, one can feel the earth’s heartbeat. Together they lie down, and soon, Esperanza feels the familiar thumping in her ears. Esperanza closes her eyes and imagines herself floating and gliding over the earth, serene and unafraid. As she flies, she sees herself swooping over the valley and the camp, Papa’s rose blooms, and all of her friends and family. She imagines flying over a river—on the other side she sees an image of her and Miguel on the day of their train trip, as children, to Zacatecas. Back on the ground at last, Esperanza reaches for Miguel’s hand and holds it tight.
In this highly symbolic, almost dreamlike scene, Miguel and Esperanza at last arrive, together, on the same side of the “river.” Esperanza realizes that the river was never really an obstacle at all—she was simply afraid of abandoning the trappings of wealth that kept her pampered and isolated. Now, with Miguel’s help, she has at last realized that all people are equal in value, and the only divides between them are imagined or constructed.
On the morning of her fourteenth birthday, Esperanza wakes up to all of her friends and family serenading her from beneath the window outside. Though there are no gifts for her to open, she enjoys a beautiful breakfast with everyone she loves. At the end of the meal, as dessert is served, Esperanza teaches Isabel how to crochet. Isabel is frustrated with her poor needlework, but Esperanza urges her friend to never “be afraid to start over.”
Esperanza at last gets the joyous celebration she was denied the previous year. Though there are no presents or luxurious foods, Esperanza doesn’t care—she is surrounded by her loved ones, and has gained something more valuable than any present: the skills to be resilient in the face of pain and optimistic in even the darkest of times.