Esperanza Rising

by

Pam Muñoz Ryan

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Isabel Character Analysis

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, raised in poverty, clearly longs for the escapism these tales offer her—but despite her yearning for the comfort and beauty in Esperanza’s tales, Isabel is a proud and present member of her family. Dreamy, caring, and, despite her youth, in many ways a kind of mentor to Esperanza, Isabel represents the younger generation’s high hopes for their futures—and the importance of friendship, togetherness, and community.

Isabel Quotes in Esperanza Rising

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

“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:
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

Isabel Character Timeline in Esperanza Rising

The timeline below shows where the character Isabel appears in Esperanza Rising. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: Los Melones (Cantaloupes)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...have written about them over the years. When Miguel introduces Esperanza to his little cousin, Isabel, the eight-year-old girl immediately begins asking Esperanza about her luxurious life back in Mexico, her... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Everyone follows Juan, Josefina, and Isabel to their truck, and as they get in, Juan warns them all that there is... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...Miguel’s age waves at Juan, and he stops to pick her up in his truck. Isabel introduces the girl as Marta, and explains that though she “lives at another camp where... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
Trying to change the subject, Isabel points out all the different kinds of people who work in the fields—Filipinos, Japanese, and... (full context)
Chapter 6: Las Cebollas (Onions)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
As Mama goes back to her packing, Isabel enters the room and sits with Esperanza. She asks the older girl to tell her... (full context)
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...and Hortensia are eating breakfast and drinking coffee—they already have work today. Mama explains that Isabel and Esperanza will look after Lupe and Pepe while the grown-ups work picking and packing... (full context)
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
After the women leave for work and Esperanza and Isabel finish feeding the babies breakfast, they each pick up one of the twins and set... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Back at their own cabin, Isabel teaches Esperanza how to change the babies and wash their diapers. Esperanza is reluctant to... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
...with a dustpan and broom and teaches Esperanza the proper and efficient way to sweep. Isabel giggles as she watches the lesson. When it’s over, Esperanza thanks Miguel for his help,... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
Miguel leaves, and Isabel asks Esperanza once more to tell her about her life “as a queen” in Mexico.... (full context)
Chapter 7: Las Almendras (Almonds)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...each other here—she begins undoing the buttons Esperanza can’t reach, and asks Esperanza to help Isabel get into the water. (full context)
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
After a refreshing bath, Esperanza and Isabel dress in their nicest clothes for the party and help Josefina shell some almonds for... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...they know that they deserve higher wages for their work. That night, in bed, when Isabel asks Esperanza for another story about her fancy life in Mexico, Esperanza feels guilty when... (full context)
Chapter 8: Las Ciruelas (Plums)
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
On Monday morning, Esperanza walks Isabel to the bus stop, and Isabel reminds Esperanza of the babies’ schedule for the day.... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
When Isabel comes home from school and sees the huge pile of soiled diapers, she chides Esperanza... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
Soon after the storm stops, the others return—Isabel has been bused home from school, and Mama and the others have been brought in... (full context)
Chapter 9: Las Papas (Potatoes)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
A few nights before Christmas, Esperanza helps Isabel make a yarn doll for Silvia. Isabel asks what Christmases were like at El Rancho... (full context)
Chapter 10: Los Aguacates (Avocados)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...during the days and cooks dinner in the afternoons, then helps with the babies and Isabel’s homework each night. On the weekends, she goes to visit Mama. Every other week, she... (full context)
Chapter 12: Los Duraznos (Peaches)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...the little shrine in the back yard, Esperanza now begins praying for Marta. One night, Isabel comes out back with her and begins praying, too—she tells Esperanza that she is praying... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
A week later, Esperanza has grown sick of looking at asparagus all day. Isabel’s class is announcing the Queen of the May tomorrow—and news has come to the camp... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...for a “better life,” but racism and poor conditions hold them back from achieving anything. Isabel, too, faces cruelty and discrimination at school, and all around them, Mexicans are being rounded... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
The next day, when Esperanza comes home from work, she finds a miserable Isabel at home crying. She reveals that she was not chosen as the Queen of the... (full context)
Chapter 13: Las Uvas (Grapes)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)