Esperanza Rising

by

Pam Muñoz Ryan

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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 that one should never be afraid to start over. Her wisdom comes in handy when Esperanza and Ramona are plunged into poverty, grief, and loss, and must undertake a long, arduous journey—while leaving the weak, frail Abuelita behind in Mexico in the care of a local convent. While in California, Ramona and Esperanza long to be reunited with Abuelita, and though it takes a long time for them to all meet again, when Miguel at last brings Abuelita north of the border, their reunion is a happy one. Though Esperanza and Ramona are living difficult lives, their time in California is enriched by Abuelita’s arrival, demonstrating the importance of family, community, and togetherness.

Abuelita Quotes in Esperanza Rising

The Esperanza Rising quotes below are all either spoken by Abuelita or refer to Abuelita. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scholastic edition of Esperanza Rising published in 2000.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“Now watch. Ten stitches up to the top of the mountain. Add one stitch. Nine stitches down to the bottom of the valley. Skip one.”

Esperanza picked up her own crochet needle and copied Abuelita’s movements and then looked at her own crocheting. The tops of her mountains were lopsided and the bottoms of her valleys were all bunched up.

Abuelita smiled, reached over, and pulled the yarn, unraveling all of Esperanza’s rows. “Do not be afraid to start over,” she said.

Related Characters: Esperanza Ortega (speaker), Abuelita (speaker)
Related Symbols: Crocheting
Page Number: 14-15
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

“My father and I have lost faith in our country. We were born servants here and no matter how hard we work we will always be servants. Your father was a good man. He gave us a small piece of land and a cabin. But your uncles . . . you know their reputation. They would take it all away and treat us like animals. We will not work for them. The work is hard in the United States but at least there we have a chance to be more than servants.”

“But Mama and Abuelita . . . they need . . . we need you.”

“My father says we won’t leave until it is necessary.” He reached over and took her hand. “I’m sorry about your papa.”

His touch was warm and Esperanza’s heart skipped. She looked at her hand in his and felt the color rushing to her face. Surprised at her own blush, she pulled away from him. She stood and stared at the roses.

An awkward silence built a wall between them. She glanced quickly at him. He was still looking at her, with eyes full of hurt. Before Miguel left her there, he said softly, “You were right, Esperanza. In Mexico we stand on different sides of the river.”

Related Symbols: The River, Papa’s Roses
Page Number: 36-37
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

Abuelita squeezed Esperanza’s hand. “Do not be afraid to start over. When I was your age, I left Spain with my mother, father, and sisters. A Mexican official had offered my father a job here in Mexico. So we came. We had to take several ships and the journey lasted months. When we arrived, nothing was as promised. There were many hard times. But life was also exciting. And we had each other. Esperanza, do you remember the story of the phoenix, the lovely young bird that is reborn from its own ashes?”

Esperanza nodded. Abuelita had read it to her many times from a book of myths.

“We are like the phoenix,” said Abuelita. “Rising again, with a new life ahead of us.”

Related Characters: Abuelita (speaker), Esperanza Ortega
Page Number: 49-50
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Irene continued working on the flour sack and shaking her head. “So many Mexicans have the revolution still in their blood. I am sympathetic to those who are striking, and I am sympathetic to those of us who want to keep working. We all want the same things. To eat and feed our children.”

Esperanza nodded. She had decided that if she and Mama were to get Abuelita here, they could not afford to strike. Not now. Not when they so desperately needed money and a roof over their heads. She worried about what many were saying: If they didn’t work, the people from Oklahoma would happily take their jobs. Then what would they do?

Related Characters: Irene (speaker), Esperanza Ortega, Ramona Ortega / Mama, Abuelita
Page Number: 146-147
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

“What was Christmas like at El Rancho de las Rosas?” Isabel never tired of Esperanza’s stories about her previous life.

Esperanza stared up at the ceiling, searching her memories. “Mama decorated with Advent wreaths and candles. Papa set up the nativity on a bed of moss in the front hall. And Hortensia cooked for days. There were empanadas filled with meat and sweet raisin tamales. You would have loved how Abuelita decorated her gifts. She used dried grapevines and flowers, instead of ribbons. On Christmas Eve, the house was always filled with laughter and people calling out, ‘Feliz Navidad.’ Later, we went to the catedral and sat with hundreds of people and held candles during midnight mass. Then we came home in the middle of the night, still smelling of incense from the church, and drank warm atole de chocolate, and opened our gifts.”

Isabel sucked in her breath and gushed, “What kind of gifts?”

“I . . . I can’t remember,” said Esperanza, braiding the yarn doll’s legs. “All I remember is being happy.”

Related Characters: Esperanza Ortega (speaker), Isabel (speaker), Ramona Ortega / Mama, Sixto Ortega / Papa, Abuelita, Hortensia
Page Number: 173-174
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

“Anza, everything will work out,” he said.

Esperanza backed away from him and shook her head, “How do you know these things, Miguel? Do you have some prophecy that I do not? I have lost everything. Every single thing and all the things that I was meant to be. See these perfect rows, Miguel? They are like what my life would have been. These rows know where they are going. Straight ahead. Now my life is like the zigzag in the blanket on Mama’s bed. I need to get Abuelita here, but I cannot even send her my pitiful savings for fear my uncles will find out and keep her there forever. I pay Mama’s medical bills but next month there will be more. I can’t stand your blind hope. I don’t want to hear your optimism about this land of possibility when I see no proof!”

“As bad as things are, we have to keep trying.”

“But it does no good! Look at yourself. Are you standing on the other side of the river? No! You are still a peasant!”

With eyes as hard as green plums, Miguel stared at her and his face contorted into a disgusted grimace. “And you still think you are a queen.”

Related Characters: Esperanza Ortega (speaker), Miguel (speaker), Ramona Ortega / Mama, Abuelita
Related Symbols: Crocheting, The River
Page Number: 223-224
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

[Esperanza] had her family, a garden full of roses, her faith, and the memories of those who had gone before her. But now, she had even more than that, and it carried her up, as on the wings of the phoenix. She soared with the anticipation of dreams she never knew she could have, of learning English, of supporting her family, of someday buying a tiny house. Miguel had been right about never giving up, and she had been right, too, about rising above those who held them down.

She hovered high above the valley, its basin surrounded by the mountains. She swooped over Papa’s rose blooms, buoyed by rosehips that remembered all the beauty they had seen. She waved at Isabel and Abuelita, walking barefoot in the vineyards, wearing grapevine wreaths in their hair. She saw Mama, sitting on a blanket, a cacophony of color that covered an acre in zigzag rows. She saw Marta and her mother walking in an almond grove, holding hands. Then she flew over a river, a thrusting torrent that cut through the mountains.

Related Symbols: The River, Papa’s Roses
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:

On the morning of her birthday, Esperanza heard the voices coming from outside her window. She could pick out Miguel’s, Alfonso’s, and Juan’s.

She sat up in bed and listened. And smiled. Esperanza lifted the curtain. Isabel came over to her bed and looked out with her, clutching her doll. They both blew kisses to the men who sang the birthday song. Then Esperanza waved them inside, not to open gifts, but because she could already smell coffee coming from the kitchen.

They gathered for breakfast: Mama and Abuelita, Hortensia and Alfonso, Josefina and Juan, the babies and Isabel. Irene and Melina came, too, with their family. And Miguel. It wasn’t exactly like the birthdays of her past. But it would still be a celebration, under the mulberry and chinaberry trees, with newborn rosebuds from Papa’s garden.

Related Symbols: Papa’s Roses
Page Number: 251-252
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Esperanza Rising LitChart as a printable PDF.
Esperanza Rising PDF

Abuelita Character Timeline in Esperanza Rising

The timeline below shows where the character Abuelita appears in Esperanza Rising. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Las Uvas (Grapes)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
In the study, Esperanza’s grandmother, her Abuelita, calls Esperanza to her for a crocheting lesson. Abuelita is a frail but distinguished woman... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
Abuelita instructs Esperanza in crocheting, explaining that she must make “ten stitches up to the top... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
The housemaid Hortensia comes in with a plate of sandwiches for Abuelita, Esperanza, and Mama, and urges them not to worry—her husband Alfonso and son Miguel have... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Abuelita, Hortensia, and Mama light candles and pray for Papa’s safe return. Esperanza continues crocheting and... (full context)
Chapter 2: Las Papayas (Papayas)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...wide to pay their respects. Each night, however, the house empties, and Esperanza, Mama, and Abuelita are left alone to comfort one another through their lonely tears. One morning, Mama urges... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
That evening, Mama, Abuelita, Esperanza, Hortensia, and Alfonso discuss what they should do. Abuelita has money in the bank—though... (full context)
Chapter 3: Los Higos (Figs)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...each of their mouths. As they run downstairs, Mama screams that no one can find Abuelita, but Alfonso urges them to hurry—the house is being enveloped in thick smoke. (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
Miguel carries Abuelita out of the house. Abuelita is alive but weak, and has sustained an injury to... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...asks if she and Esperanza could come along, and though Esperanza insists they couldn’t leave Abuelita, Abuelita says she could stay at a nearby convent where two of her sisters live... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...Luis’s cruel plans. Esperanza agrees at last that going to California is the only option. Abuelita says she’ll find a way to discreetly get Esperanza and Ramona new papers for the... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
Sensing Esperanza’s worry, Abuelita squeezes her hand and reminds her: “Do not ever be afraid to start over.” She... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
The next day, the nuns come to take Abuelita away to the convent. As she bids Esperanza farewell, Abuelita reminds her granddaughter that life... (full context)
Chapter 5: Los Melones (Cantaloupes)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...all right, and then admits that he, too, misses Sixto, “the ranch and Mexico and Abuelita, everything.” Miguel takes Esperanza’s hand, and this time, she does not let go. (full context)
Chapter 6: Las Cebollas (Onions)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...“so very rich”—Esperanza replies that she is “still rich,” and simply awaiting the arrival of Abuelita and her money. Her new situation, she assures Isabel, is only temporary. Isabel leaves the... (full context)
Chapter 7: Las Almendras (Almonds)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...go to church. Esperanza says she’ll pray for Miguel to find a job and for Abuelita to get well soon and come to America. When she asks Mama what she’ll pray... (full context)
Chapter 9: Las Papas (Potatoes)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...doctor returns and tells Esperanza that Mama’s condition hasn’t changed. One evening, Mama calls for Abuelita’s blanket, and Esperanza retrieves it from her valise and brings it into Mama’s room. Esperanza... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...that she has failed her mother in some way, and becomes determined to write to Abuelita. Hortensia warns her that her uncles will surely be monitoring the mail, but Esperanza knows... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...to help her find some work so that she can earn money and help bring Abuelita to America. Miguel worries that Esperanza will get in trouble for being too young to... (full context)
Chapter 10: Los Aguacates (Avocados)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...her valise—if she keeps working until peach season, she thinks, she will save enough for Abuelita’s travel. (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...Esperanza explains that she’s saving them in her valise so that someday she can bring Abuelita to America. The piñata, she says, is for Mama—when she’s allowed to visit again, she... (full context)
Chapter 12: Los Duraznos (Peaches)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
In addition to praying for Abuelita and Mama at the little shrine in the back yard, Esperanza now begins praying for... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...Esperanza decides to show Mama all the money orders she’s been saving up to bring Abuelita to America—when she opens up her valise, though, she is stunned. The money orders are... (full context)
Chapter 13: Las Uvas (Grapes)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...get better.” He turns around to help the last passenger on the bus off—it is Abuelita. (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...money orders and used them to get back to Mexico so that he could bring Abuelita over the border. (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...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... (full context)