Esperanza Rising

by

Pam Muñoz Ryan

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Esperanza Ortega Character Analysis

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 father Sixto’s sprawling Aguascalientes ranch, El Rancho de las Rosas. Esperanza’s servants call her “la reina,” or the queen, because of her fancy clothes, refined disposition, and pampered lifestyle. Esperanza is used to bossing others around, getting her way, and being showered in attention, gifts, and affection by everyone around her. This all changes, however, when Sixto is killed by bandits one evening on the outskirts of the ranch. Quickly, Esperanza and her mother are plunged into poverty and desperation, compounded by the fact that her father’s brothers, Luis and Marco, conspire to force Esperanza’s mother Ramona to marry Luis so that the two of them can have access to Sixto’s land and fortune. When Ramona refuses and their house and ranch burn to the ground, Ramona “relents” and tells Luis she accepts his proposal—but secretly begins working on a way to get herself and Esperanza out of Mexico for good. When they travel to California to work on a company farm in the San Joaquin Valley alongside their former servants Hortensia, Alfonso, and Miguel, Esperanza is miserable—she cannot understand why they are riding in steerage class on the train, or why her mother is socializing with “peasants.” Ramona tries to make Esperanza understand that their lives have changed—they, too, are now peasants—but Esperanza resists, refusing to believe that she and her mother won’t soon return to their luxurious lives in Mexico. As the novel unfolds, Esperanza learns what it means to do a hard day’s work, to make friends with those she previously believed were separated from her by a vast “river,” or class divide, and to be a part of a solid, supportive community. As Esperanza breaks through the barriers of her own fears and prejudices and begins working hard on the farm, she learns that wealth is more than materialism, that the unfairness of the world can be mitigated by love and community, and that even in the deepest pits of loss and grief, hope and rebirth can be found and achieved.

Esperanza Ortega Quotes in Esperanza Rising

The Esperanza Rising quotes below are all either spoken by Esperanza Ortega or refer to Esperanza Ortega. 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

“He is just a little late,” said Mama. And part of Esperanza’s mind believed her. But the other part scolded him.

“Mama, the neighbors warned him just last night about bandits.”

Mama nodded and bit the corner of her lip in worry. They both knew that even though it was 1930 and the revolution in Mexico had been over for ten years, there was still resentment against the large landowners.

“Change has not come fast enough, Esperanza. The wealthy still own most of the land while some of the poor have not even a garden plot. There are cattle grazing on the big ranches yet some peasants are forced to eat cats. Papa is sympathetic and has given land to many of his workers. The people know that.”

“But Mama, do the bandits know that?”

“I hope so,” said Mama quietly. “I have already sent Alfonso and Miguel to look for him. Let’s wait inside.”

Related Characters: Esperanza Ortega (speaker), Ramona Ortega / Mama (speaker), Sixto Ortega / Papa
Page Number: 11-12
Explanation and Analysis:

“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:

Now that [Esperanza] was a young woman, she understood that Miguel was the housekeeper’s son and she was the ranch owner’s daughter and between them ran a deep river. Esperanza stood on one side and Miguel stood on the other and the river could never be crossed. In a moment of self-importance, Esperanza had told all of this to Miguel. Since then, he had spoken only a few words to her. When their paths crossed, he nodded and said politely, “Mi reina, my queen,” but nothing more. There was no teasing or laughing or talking about every little thing. Esperanza pretended not to care, though she secretly wished she had never told Miguel about the river.

Related Characters: Esperanza Ortega, Miguel
Related Symbols: The River
Page Number: 18
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 4 Quotes

Mama looked at Esperanza. “I don’t think it would have hurt to let her hold [the doll] for a few moments.”

"Mama, she is poor and dirty . . . ” said Esperanza.

But Mama interrupted. "When you scorn these people, you scorn Miguel, Hortensia, and Alfonso. And you embarrass me and yourself. As difficult as it is to accept, our lives are different now.”

The child kept crying. Her face was so dirty that her tears washed clean streaks down her cheeks. Esperanza suddenly felt ashamed and the color rose in her face, but she still pushed the valise farther under the seat with her feet and turned her body away from Mama.

Related Characters: Esperanza Ortega (speaker), Ramona Ortega / Mama (speaker), Alfonso, Hortensia, Miguel
Related Symbols: The River
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

Isabel gasped. “It’s beautiful. Is that our statue?”

Josefina nodded. “But the roses come from far away.”

Esperanza searched Miguel’s face, her eyes hopeful. “Papa’s?”

“Yes, these are your papa’s roses,” said Miguel, smiling at her.

Alfonso had dug circles of earth around each plant, casitas, little houses, that made moats for deep watering. Just like he had done in Aguascalientes.

“But how?” Esperanza remembered the rose garden as a blackened graveyard.

“After the fire, my father and I dug down to the roots. Many were still healthy. We carried the cuttings from Aguascalientes. And that’s why we had to keep them wet. We think they will grow. In time, we will see how many bloom.”

Esperanza bent closer to look at the stems rooted in mulch. They were leafless and stubby, but lovingly planted.

Related Characters: Esperanza Ortega (speaker), Miguel (speaker), Josefina (speaker), Isabel (speaker)
Related Symbols: Papa’s Roses
Page Number: 123-124
Explanation and Analysis:

Esperanza went to one of the washtubs, put her hands out to her sides, and waited. Josefina looked at Hortensia and raised her eyebrows.

Isabel said, “Esperanza, what are you doing?”

Mama walked over to Esperanza and said softly, “I’ve been thinking that you are old enough to bathe yourself, don’t you think?”

Esperanza quickly dropped her arms and remembered Marta’s taunting voice saying, “No one will be waiting on you here.”

“Yes, Mama,” she said, and for the second time in two days, she felt her face burning as everyone stared at her.

Hortensia came over, put her arm around Esperanza and said, “We are accustomed to doing things a certain way, aren’t we, Esperanza? But I guess I am not too old to change. We will help each other. I will unbutton the buttons you cannot reach and you will help Isabel, yes? Josefina, we need more hot water in these tubs. Andale, hurry.”

As Hortensia helped her with her blouse, Esperanza whispered, “Thank you.”

Related Characters: Esperanza Ortega (speaker), Ramona Ortega / Mama (speaker), Hortensia (speaker), Isabel (speaker), Marta
Page Number: 126-127
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:

“What will we do tomorrow?” asked Esperanza.

“The grapes are higher off the ground,” said Alfonso. “The trunks of the vines are covered but the fruit was not affected. The grapes are ready and cannot wait. So mañana, we will go back to work.”

The next morning, the sky was blue and calm and the dust had left the air. It had settled on the world, covering everything like a suede blanket. Everyone who lived at the camp shook out the powdery soil, went back to work, and came home again, as if nothing had happened.

Related Characters: Esperanza Ortega (speaker), Alfonso (speaker)
Page Number: 152
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

The blanket grew longer. And Mama grew more pale. Women in the camp brought her extra skeins of yarn and Esperanza didn’t care that they didn’t match. Each night when she went to bed, she put the growing blanket back over Mama, covering her in hopeful color.

Related Characters: Esperanza Ortega, Ramona Ortega / Mama
Related Symbols: Crocheting
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:

“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 10 Quotes

Hortensia rubbed the avocado mixture into Esperanza’s hands. “You must keep it on for twenty minutes so your hands will soak up the oils.”

Esperanza looked at her hands covered in the greasy green lotion and remembered when Mama used to sit like this, after a long day of gardening or after horseback rides with Papa through the dry mesquite grasslands. When she was a little girl, she had laughed at Mama’s hands covered in what looked like guacamole. But she had loved for her to rinse them because afterward, Esperanza would take Mama’s hands and put the palms on her own face so she could feel their suppleness and breathe in the fresh smell.

[…]

[Esperanza] put her hands under the faucet, rinsed off the avocado, and patted them dry. They felt better, but still looked red and weathered. She took another avocado, cut it in half, swung the knife into the pit and pulled it from the flesh. She repeated Hortensia’s recipe and as she sat for the second time with her hands smothered, she realized that it wouldn’t matter how much avocado and glycerine she put on them, they would never look like the hands of a wealthy woman from El Rancho de las Rosas. Because they were the hands of a poor campesina.

Related Characters: Hortensia (speaker), Esperanza Ortega, Ramona Ortega / Mama
Page Number: 181-182
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

Several immigration officials accompanied by police began searching the platform, turning over boxes and dumping out field bins. Hortensia was right. They ignored the workers in their stained aprons, their hands still holding the green asparagus. Finding no strikers on the dock, they jumped back down and hurried to where a crowd was being loaded onto the buses.

“iAmericana! iAmericana!” yelled one woman and she began to unfold some papers. One of the officials took the papers from her hand and tore them into pieces. “Get on the bus,” he ordered.

“What will they do with them?” asked Esperanza.

“They will take them to Los Angeles, and put them on the train to El Paso, Texas, and then to Mexico,” said Josefina.

“But some of them are citizens,” said Esperanza.

“It doesn’t matter. They are causing problems for the government. They are talking about forming a farm workers’ union and the government and the growers don’t like that.”

Related Characters: Esperanza Ortega (speaker), Josefina (speaker)
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:

Esperanza lay in bed that night and listened to the others in the front room talk about the sweeps and the deportations.

“They went to every major grower and put hundreds of strikers on the buses,” said Juan.

“Some say they did it to create more jobs for those coming from the east,” said Josefina. “We are lucky the company needs us right now. If they didn’t, we could be next.”

“We have been loyal to the company and the company will be loyal to us!” said Alfonso.

“I’m just glad it’s over,” said Hortensia.

“It is not over,” said Miguel. “In time, they will be back, especially if they have families here. They will reorganize and they will be stronger. There will come a time when we will have to decide all over again whether to join them or not.”

Related Characters: Alfonso (speaker), Hortensia (speaker), Miguel (speaker), Juan (speaker), Josefina (speaker), Esperanza Ortega
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

“Is this the better life that you left Mexico for? Is it? Nothing is right here! Isabel will certainly not be queen no matter how badly she wants it because she is Mexican. You cannot work on engines because you are Mexican. We have gone to work through angry crowds of our own people who threw rocks at us, and I’m afraid they might have been right! They send people back to Mexico even if they don’t belong there, just for speaking up. We live in a horse stall. And none of this bothers you? Have you heard that they are building a new camp for Okies, with a swimming pool? The Mexicans can only swim in it on the afternoon before they clean it! Have you heard they will be given inside toilets and hot water? Why is that, Miguel? Is it because they are the fairest in the land? Tell me! Is this life really better than being a servant in Mexico?”

Related Characters: Esperanza Ortega (speaker), Miguel, Isabel
Page Number: 221-222
Explanation and Analysis:

“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:
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Esperanza Rising PDF

Esperanza Ortega Character Timeline in Esperanza Rising

The timeline below shows where the character Esperanza Ortega appears in Esperanza Rising. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue: Aguascalientes, Mexico 1924
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Six-year-old Esperanza Ortega walks with her father, Sixto, through the ripe vineyards on their sprawling valley ranch,... (full context)
Chapter 1: Las Uvas (Grapes)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
Six years later, Esperanza—now nearly thirteen—carefully accepts a sharp knife from the hands of her Papa and does the... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Esperanza cuts the grapes from the vine and passes them to Papa, who kisses them and... (full context)
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Esperanza knows that on her birthday there will be a large fiesta, or party, and that... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
Three weeks later, Esperanza is in Papa’s rose garden, picking flowers for the fiesta. Papa has promised to meet... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Tomorrow is Esperanza’s birthday, and she tries to distract herself with happy thoughts of the attention and affection... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
Esperanza heads inside—her thumb is still bleeding. When she shows it to her mother, Mama says,... (full context)
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... (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 of the... (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 ridden... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Miguel is Hortensia and Alfonso’s sixteen-year-old son, and he and Esperanza have been friends all their lives. Esperanza is frequently jealous of Miguel because he gets... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...Tío Marco—Papa’s older stepbrothers. Luis is the bank president, and Marco is the town mayor. Esperanza does not like either of her uncles, and knows her Mama doesn’t either. Luis tells... (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 tries to think of the exciting celebrations tomorrow, but worry keeps intruding.... (full context)
Chapter 2: Las Papayas (Papayas)
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Grief and Loss Theme Icon
When Esperanza wakes up the next morning, she thinks she can hear Papa and the others singing... (full context)
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Esperanza wraps a shawl around her shoulders and goes downstairs to find the house totally empty.... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...from far and 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... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...care of the family business.” One day, a lawyer comes by to settle Papa’s estate. Esperanza cannot keep up with all the talk of loans, property, and investments, and as her... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...though Sixto left the house and the yearly income from the grapes to her and Esperanza, the land—not usually left behind to women—has been given to Luis, the banker on Sixto’s... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...house is now on his property, and he “can make things difficult” for her and Esperanza. After Luis and Marco leave, the lawyer advises Ramona to be careful—Luis is a “devious,... (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 Luis... (full context)
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...been alone or even talked since Papa’s death. Miguel points out which roses belong to Esperanza, and which ones belong to him—when they were little, Papa planted special variations for each... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
Miguel confides in Esperanza that he and his family are thinking of leaving for the United States to work—there... (full context)
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Esperanza goes up to her room, dresses for bed, and looks out her window at the... (full context)
Chapter 3: Los Higos (Figs)
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Esperanza wakes up from a series of frightening nightmares to the sound of someone calling her... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...the vineyard, while servants and field-workers scurry every which way, leaving the ranch en masse. Esperanza feels dizzy and wonders if she is dreaming—she watches as sparks from the house blow... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...her ankle. Abuelita holds up her bag of crocheting—she managed to get it out safely. Esperanza’s family and Miguel’s all huddle together and watch as the fire spreads to the vineyard,... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
The next morning, after a sleepless night spent in the servants’ cabins, Esperanza goes out to the rubble hoping to find some of her things to salvage. Everything,... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Soon, Esperanza spots Luis and Marco approaching on horseback. They ride right up to Mama and apologize... (full context)
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...Ramona he’ll return in a few days for her answer. As he turns to leave, Esperanza shouts that she hates Luis—he turns around, and tells her that he’ll start looking into... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...the ranch in the servants’ quarters, those will surely burn next—with no income, Ramona and Esperanza would have to depend on the charity of others, but due to Marco and Luis’s... (full context)
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Esperanza still doesn’t like the plan, but Mama tells her that if they stay, they will... (full context)
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Sensing Esperanza’s worry, Abuelita squeezes her hand and reminds her: “Do not ever be afraid to start... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...next day, the nuns come to take Abuelita away to the convent. As she bids Esperanza farewell, Abuelita reminds her granddaughter that life is a series of “mountains and valleys,” and... (full context)
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Over the next few days, Mama and Esperanza plot in secret with Señor Rodriguez—the only person in town they can trust—and craft an... (full context)
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One night, Mama wakes Esperanza before dawn and they leave in the wagon, taking only what they can carry. Esperanza... (full context)
Chapter 4: Las Guayabas (Guavas)
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Señor Rodriguez hurries Mama, Hortensia, and Esperanza into a secret compartment in the wagon specially built for them. It is not safe... (full context)
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As they set out on their journey, Esperanza is nervous, but Hortensia comforts her by reminding her of a night when bandits came... (full context)
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One day, Esperanza and Miguel both got all dressed up, and Papa took them on a train ride... (full context)
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Two days later, Esperanza, Mama, Hortensia, Alfonso, and Miguel at last arrive in Zacatecas. As Esperanza stretches while waiting... (full context)
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When Esperanza takes her doll out of her suitcase to play with it, a dirty peasant girl... (full context)
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...package, and then hurry back on just before the train pulls out of the station. Esperanza asks to know what’s in the package, but Alfonso says she has to wait to... (full context)
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Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...gone before [her.]” Mama, moved to tears, tells the woman of their family’s recent loss. Esperanza quietly suggests that Mama not “tell a peasant [their] personal business,” but Mama whispers back... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
After the woman gets off the train, Esperanza watches out the window as she gives some money to a “crippled Indian woman.” Miguel... (full context)
Chapter 5: Los Melones (Cantaloupes)
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The train reaches the border the next morning, and Esperanza and her fellow passengers are corralled into a hot, tightly-packed building to pass through immigration.... (full context)
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After another train ride, Esperanza wakes up to find that they have all arrived in Los Angeles. Alfonso excitedly points... (full context)
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...warns them all that there is still a long ride ahead. As they set off, Esperanza looks out the window at the lush Los Angeles landscape and feels grateful for the... (full context)
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When the group stops for lunch, Esperanza wanders away and looks out on the valleys and plains. Remembering Papa’s lesson from years... (full context)
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...and uncle live on this farm and she often stays with them. When Isabel introduces Esperanza to Marta, she explains that Esperanza is from a huge, beautiful ranch where she “had... (full context)
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...Saturday night during the summer. As the truck approaches the Mexican camp, Marta teasingly tells Esperanza that “no one will be waiting on [her] here” before hopping out of the truck. (full context)
Chapter 6: Las Cebollas (Onions)
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As they arrive at the Mexican camp and get out of the truck, Esperanza surveys the small wooden cabins—they are not even as nice as the servants’ cabins back... (full context)
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Mama shuts the door to their room and orders Esperanza to sit down. She explains that had they stayed in Mexico, they would have had... (full context)
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As Mama goes back to her packing, Isabel enters the room and sits with Esperanza. She asks the older girl to tell her a story of being “so very rich”—Esperanza... (full context)
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Esperanza wakes early the next morning, having slept through dinner and most of the night. It... (full context)
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After the women leave for work and Esperanza and Isabel finish feeding the babies breakfast, they each pick up one of the twins... (full context)
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Back at their own cabin, Isabel teaches Esperanza how to change the babies and wash their diapers. Esperanza is reluctant to scrub the... (full context)
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After the washing is done, Esperanza goes out the platform to sweep it. Once she has the broom in her hand,... (full context)
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Miguel enters the room with a dustpan and broom and teaches Esperanza the proper and efficient way to sweep. Isabel giggles as she watches the lesson. When... (full context)
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Miguel leaves, and Isabel asks Esperanza once more to tell her about her life “as a queen” in Mexico. Struck with... (full context)
Chapter 7: Las Almendras (Almonds)
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...has been particularly hard. Still, Mama gets to work cooking with the other women, and Esperanza lends a hand, too. After dinner, Miguel and Alfonso tell Ramona and Esperanza that they... (full context)
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...cabin so that they can take baths before the fiesta that evening. When it is Esperanza’s turn, she holds her arms out and waits for Hortensia to take her clothes off... (full context)
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After a refreshing bath, Esperanza and Isabel dress in their nicest clothes for the party and help Josefina shell some... (full context)
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Back at the cabin, Esperanza asks Josefina why Marta is so angry. Josefina explains that Marta and her mother travel... (full context)
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Later, when Mama comes to bed, she tells Esperanza how proud she is of her for working hard and learning to adjust to their... (full context)
Chapter 8: Las Ciruelas (Plums)
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On Monday morning, Esperanza walks Isabel to the bus stop, and Isabel reminds Esperanza of the babies’ schedule for... (full context)
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That afternoon, when it is time to feed Lupe and Pepe their lunch, Esperanza mashes some ripe plums, and the babies eat every bite of the sweet fruit. After... (full context)
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...Isabel comes home from school and sees the huge pile of soiled diapers, she chides Esperanza for feeding the babies raw plums, but Esperanza, exasperated, says that there’s a lot she... (full context)
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Each day, Esperanza gets a little bit better at all of her tasks: caring for the babies, preparing... (full context)
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...trucks. Everyone is covered in brown dust, and Mama cannot stop coughing, though she assures Esperanza that she’s feeling fine. That evening, everyone takes turns rinsing off in the sink—they will... (full context)
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...a doctor, she insists she’s fine and just needs to lie down. That evening, though, Esperanza cannot wake the feverish Mama up from her nap, and Hortensia calls an American doctor... (full context)
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The doctor tells Hortensia and Esperanza that they will need to keep her fever down as the disease works its way... (full context)
Chapter 9: Las Papas (Potatoes)
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For weeks, Esperanza hardly leaves Mama’s side, feeding and bathing her and attending to her every need. As... (full context)
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...Mama should be in the hospital—not only is she ill and weak, but she’s depressed. Esperanza begins crying, afraid that “the hospital is where people go to die,” but Hortensia assures... (full context)
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As the doctor takes Mama off to the hospital, Esperanza worries that she has failed her mother in some way, and becomes determined to write... (full context)
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The next evening, Esperanza, knowing she has to find a way to bring some money in, asks Miguel to... (full context)
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A few days later, Esperanza is bundled in a small wooden shed with Josefina, Hortensia, and a group of other... (full context)
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A few nights before Christmas, Esperanza helps Isabel make a yarn doll for Silvia. Isabel asks what Christmases were like at... (full context)
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On Christmas day, Esperanza visits Mama in the hospital. During the visit, however, Mama sleeps deeply and doesn’t even... (full context)
Chapter 10: Los Aguacates (Avocados)
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In January, Esperanza waits outside in the cold for the truck that will take her to tie grapevines.... (full context)
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That night, after work, Esperanza soaks her frozen, cracked hands in a bowl of water. She barely recognizes them as... (full context)
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One afternoon, Esperanza and Miguel go to visit Mama at the hospital, but her doctor stops them from... (full context)
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Three weeks later, it is the first day of spring, and Hortensia urges Esperanza to take advantage of the nice weather and get out of camp for the day.... (full context)
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While Miguel talks to some men about a railroad job outside, Esperanza goes into the market and looks around. There are many Mexican specialty foods available, and... (full context)
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On the way back to camp, Miguel and Esperanza see Marta and her mother walking down the road, and stop to give them a... (full context)
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Miguel and Esperanza drop Marta and her mother off at the strikers’ farm, where the conditions seem bleak.... (full context)
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A few nights later, Esperanza arrives home from a hard day’s work to find a splendid meal—Miguel’s favorite dinner—laid out... (full context)
Chapter 11: Los Espárragos (Asparagus)
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As the weeks go by, Esperanza realizes that the strikers are “more organized than ever.” They hand out fliers, paint their... (full context)
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When Esperanza, Hortensia, and Josefina arrive at the packing shed on the first day of the strike,... (full context)
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One day, Esperanza is packing asparagus when she notices something strange. The strikers’ chanting, which has become the... (full context)
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As Esperanza watches strikers being loaded onto the buses, Josefina explains that regardless of citizenship status, they... (full context)
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Esperanza realizes that she needs more elastics to bundle the asparagus. She goes out to the... (full context)
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That night, Esperanza lies in bed, listening to the adults in the next room talk about the strike.... (full context)
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The next morning, Esperanza asks Miguel to drive her to the strikers’ farm before the start of work. When... (full context)
Chapter 12: Los Duraznos (Peaches)
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...addition to praying for Abuelita and Mama at the little shrine in the back yard, Esperanza now begins praying for Marta. One night, Isabel comes out back with her and begins... (full context)
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A week later, Esperanza has grown sick of looking at asparagus all day. Isabel’s class is announcing the Queen... (full context)
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...go as a mechanic and is now being forced to dig ditches and lay tracks. Esperanza can’t believe Miguel allowed himself to be treated that way, but Miguel needs to bring... (full context)
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Esperanza, filled with rage, runs out of the cabin, slamming the door behind her. Miguel follows... (full context)
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Miguel places a hand on Esperanza’s arm and assures her that “everything will work out.” Esperanza backs away from him and... (full context)
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...Miguel is gone—he has left to go to Northern California to work on the railroad. Esperanza is worried for Miguel, and too ashamed of the cruel things she said in the... (full context)
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The next day, when Esperanza comes home from work, she finds a miserable Isabel at home crying. She reveals that... (full context)
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A few days later, Esperanza and Hortensia visit the hospital to check on Mama. Good news awaits them—the doctor says... (full context)
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All week, Esperanza, Hortensia, and Josefina prepare for Mama’s return, making the house neat and clean. That Saturday,... (full context)
Chapter 13: Las Uvas (Grapes)
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...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,... (full context)
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Esperanza, Hortensia, and Alfonso ride down to Los Angeles in the heat to await Miguel’s arrival.... (full context)
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Esperanza can hardly believe her eyes. She is overcome with emotion as she embraces her grandmother... (full context)
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Everyone returns to the camp, and though Esperanza asks for Mama right away, Josefina tells her Ramona is sleeping. Esperanza introduces Abuelita to... (full context)
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Esperanza retrieves her grandmother’s blanket from inside and shows her all the crocheting work she has... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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A few weeks later, it is nearly Esperanza’s birthday. She asks Miguel to drive her out to the foothills at sunrise. At the... (full context)
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On the morning of her fourteenth birthday, Esperanza wakes up to all of her friends and family serenading her from beneath the window... (full context)