Esperanza Ortega is the novel’s protagonist, whose name is the Spanish word for “hope.” At the start of the book, at thirteen years old, she is being raised in the lap of luxury on her… read analysis of Esperanza Ortega
Ramona Ortega / Mama
Esperanza’s mother Ramona is a spirited woman who would do anything for the good of her family. She is a woman of strong values who refuses to capitulate to blackmail and coercion in the… read analysis of Ramona Ortega / Mama
Sixto Ortega / Papa
Esperanza’s father, Sixto, appears only briefly in the novel—very early on, he’s killed by bandits while riding on the outskirts of his ranch, El Rancho de las Rosas. Sixto, though, is a compassionate and… read analysis of Sixto Ortega / Papa
Ramona’s mother, known to Esperanza only as Abuelita, is a kind, patient, and gracious woman who teaches Esperanza how to crochet and passes along important proverbs and wisdom—reminding her early on in the novel… read analysis of Abuelita
Papa’s older stepbrother and the mayor of the town. Not quite as smart as Luis, his older brother, he follows the elder man around like a “donkey,” and does anything and everything Luis… read analysis of Tío Marco
The boss of all the field-workers on El Rancho de las Rosas and Sixto’s close friend and companion. Alfonso has a sad, moody appearance, but is enthusiastic and kind on the inside. He once… read analysis of Alfonso
Alfonso’s wife, Miguel’s mother, and the Ortega family’s housekeeper, Hortensia is a Zapotec Indian from Oaxaca who takes good care of Esperanza and her entire family and truly loves the Ortegas. Hortensia is… read analysis of Hortensia
The sixteen-year-old son of Alfonso and Hortensia, Miguel and Esperanza have been friends and playmates since they were small. Sixto has always doted on Miguel, and Miguel, a mechanical whiz kid, works hard on… read analysis of Miguel
A teenage girl who lives and works on a neighboring farm owned by a different company picking cotton. Marta has worked hard all her life, and teases Esperanza brutally for being a “princess” who’s playacting… read analysis of Marta
Juan and Josefina’s eight-year-old daughter. She is transfixed by Esperanza from the first moment she sees her, and constantly begs the older girl to tell stories of her luxurious, beautiful life in Mexico. Isabel… read analysis of Isabel
Alfonso’s brother. A hardworking farmer who loves his family.
Juan’s wife, and Hortensia and Alfonso’s sister-in-law.
Lupe and Pepe
Juan and Josefina’s twin one-year-old babies. When Isabel goes off to school, Esperanza finds herself in charge of the children, and looking after them helps her establish a sense of purpose on the farm—and teaches her a lot about taking care of others.
An older woman who lives and works on the farm in California.
A young woman who works on the farm in California. Though not very much older than Miguel and Esperanza, she already has a husband and a child and is wise beyond her years.
Isabel’s best friend.
Esperanza’s best friend in Aguascalientes.
Marisol’s father. A longtime friend of Sixto and the Ortega family, Señor Rodriguez owns a fruit farm which neighbors the Ortega ranch.