Esperanza Rising

by

Pam Muñoz Ryan

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Marta Character Analysis

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 at being a “peasant.” Marta has no sympathy for Esperanza’s having lost her father—Marta’s own father died fighting in the Mexican Revolution against wealthy landowners like Sixto. Marta’s fiery passion for politics and staunch dedication to pursuing workers’ rights for herself and her fellow farmers through organized resistance and striking is emblematic of the novel’s thematic message of activism and solidarity—but when Marta gets in over her head, she winds up having to turn to Esperanza for help in a moment of unlikely connection.

Marta Quotes in Esperanza Rising

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

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:

Marta and some of her friends stood in the bed of a truck that was parked nearby, each of them holding up one of the tiny kittens.

“This is what we are!” she yelled. “Small, meek animals. And that is how they treat us because we don't speak up. If we don’t ask for what is rightfully ours, we will never get it! Is this how we want to live?” She held the kitten by the back of the neck, waving it high in the air. It hung limp in front of the crowd. “With no decent home and at the mercy of those bigger than us, richer than us?”

Related Characters: Marta (speaker)
Page Number: 131-132
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:
Get the entire Esperanza Rising LitChart as a printable PDF.
Esperanza Rising PDF

Marta Character Timeline in Esperanza Rising

The timeline below shows where the character Marta 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
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...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 they pick cotton,” her aunt... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...the different kinds of people who work in the fields—Filipinos, Japanese, and people from Oklahoma. Marta says that the camp purposely keeps people of different ethnicities separate—“they don’t want us banding... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Marta admits, though, that the conditions on this farm are not so bad—there are even large... (full context)
Chapter 6: Las Cebollas (Onions)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
...make the broom move the way she wants it to. She soon becomes aware of Marta and some other girls pointing at her and laughing, calling her “Cinderella.” Mortified, she runs... (full context)
Chapter 7: Las Almendras (Almonds)
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...dessert she’s making. Esperanza expresses her nervousness about going to the party—she is worried that Marta and the others will tease her—but Isabel insists she should “get it over with” and... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...and someone even brings a box full of a litter of new kittens for adoption. Marta, however, seizes one of the kittens and holds it up in front of a crowd,... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
Back at the cabin, Esperanza asks Josefina why Marta is so angry. Josefina explains that Marta and her mother travel for work all over... (full context)
Chapter 10: Los Aguacates (Avocados)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
On the way back to camp, Miguel and Esperanza see Marta and her mother walking down the road, and stop to give them a ride. Marta... (full context)
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
Miguel and Esperanza drop Marta and her mother off at the strikers’ farm, where the conditions seem bleak. Marta and... (full context)
Chapter 11: Los Espárragos (Asparagus)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...the shed to retrieve them. Huddled in between a “maze of tall crates,” she finds Marta, who begs Esperanza not to tell anyone she’s there—she has to take care of her... (full context)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...immigration has been here, too. Esperanza looks across the field but sees no sign of Marta anywhere. She hopes quietly that Marta and her mother are together, wherever they are. (full context)
Chapter 12: Los Duraznos (Peaches)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...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 praying, too—she tells Esperanza that... (full context)