Esperanza Rising

by

Pam Muñoz Ryan

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Sixto Ortega / Papa Character Analysis

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 caring man who deeply loves the earth, and tries to instill in Esperanza a sense of gratitude for all its blessings. Though the men who killed him—and others throughout the novel, notably the radical Marta—see Sixto’s status as a wealthy landowner as a sign that he must have been inherently cruel or corrupt, Esperanza knows in her heart that her father was a good man who treated his family, his servants, and his workers well. Still, after his death, Esperanza is forced to question what wealth truly is—whether it comes from money and material things, or whether one’s “wealth” can be comprised of the strength of their relationship and the goodness of their deeds.

Sixto Ortega / Papa Quotes in Esperanza Rising

The Esperanza Rising quotes below are all either spoken by Sixto Ortega / Papa or refer to Sixto Ortega / Papa. 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:
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 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 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

Sixto Ortega / Papa Character Timeline in Esperanza Rising

The timeline below shows where the character Sixto Ortega / Papa 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, El Rancho de las Rosas. Sixto... (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 honor of cutting the first cluster of grapes from where it hangs... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Esperanza cuts the grapes from the vine and passes them to Papa, who kisses them and holds them aloft for all to see. He declares that it... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
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Three weeks later, Esperanza is in Papa’s rose garden, picking flowers for the fiesta. Papa has promised to meet her there. When... (full context)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
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...her gifts. She knows she’ll have linens from Mama and a beautiful porcelain doll from Papa—he gets her one every single year. (full context)
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...simply mean a small spill or accident. Esperanza can tell, though, that Mama has noticed Papa’s absence too, and senses that she is worried. Esperanza and Mama are both aware that... (full context)
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...and son Miguel have ridden out to the edge of the ranch to search for Papa, and she is certain they’ll bring him home soon. Alfonso is the boss of all... (full context)
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...is frequently jealous of Miguel because he gets to go out to the fields with Papa each day. When she was little, Esperanza harbored dreams of marrying Miguel. Now that she... (full context)
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Hours later, there is still no sign of Alfonso, Miguel, and Papa. A pair of riders approach, but it is only Tío Luis and Tío Marco—Papa’s older... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 2: Las Papayas (Papayas)
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When Esperanza wakes up the next morning, she thinks she can hear Papa and the others singing to her—but as she rises up out of her dreams, she... (full context)
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Papa’s funeral masses last for three full days, and the ranch is full of people who... (full context)
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...the funeral, Marco and Luis come by the house every day to hole up in Papa’s study and “take care of the family business.” One day, a lawyer comes by to... (full context)
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The lawyer informs Ramona that though Sixto left the house and the yearly income from the grapes to her and Esperanza, the... (full context)
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...sit with her. It is the first time they’ve been alone or even talked since Papa’s death. Miguel points out which roses belong to Esperanza, and which ones belong to him—when... (full context)
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...Hortensia did try to make a life for themselves on the small piece of land Sixto gave them, Luis would simply take it away. Miguel takes Esperanza’s hand and tells her... (full context)
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...down into the courtyard and spots the box Señor Rodriguez delivered on the day of Papa’s death—the papayas inside are now overripe and rotting. (full context)
Chapter 3: Los Higos (Figs)
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...can carry. Esperanza takes a small valise filled with clothes and her porcelain doll from Papa. Miguel and Alfonso lead them through the burnt grape rows to the Rodriguez ranch. At... (full context)
Chapter 4: Las Guayabas (Guavas)
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...mouse in his pocket, set it loose and spooked the bandits, who soon left. When Papa came back from work and heard about Miguel’s bravery, he offered him anything he wanted... (full context)
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One day, Esperanza and Miguel both got all dressed up, and Papa took them on a train ride to Zacatecas. They sat in compartments with seats of... (full context)
Chapter 5: Los Melones (Cantaloupes)
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...stops for lunch, Esperanza wanders away and looks out on the valleys and plains. Remembering Papa’s lesson from years ago, she lies down on the ground and places her ear to... (full context)
Chapter 7: Las Almendras (Almonds)
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...the base of the shrine, Miguel and Alfonso have planted a few stems salvaged from Papa’s rose garden—they kept them damp and safe all the way to California. Alfonso and Miguel... (full context)
Chapter 8: Las Ciruelas (Plums)
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...Mama to regain her full strength. Esperanza is gripped with fear—she has already lost her Papa, and cannot lose her mother, too. (full context)
Chapter 10: Los Aguacates (Avocados)
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...Esperanza watches Miguel talk about his new job, his “dancing” eyes remind her of how Papa’s looked “when he used to talk about the land.” (full context)
Chapter 12: Los Duraznos (Peaches)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...valise and gives it to the young girl. Isabel protests, but Esperanza insists that her Papa would not want the doll “buried inside a valise” with no one to play with. ... (full context)
Chapter 13: Las Uvas (Grapes)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
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Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...and unafraid. As she flies, she sees herself swooping over the valley and the camp, Papa’s rose blooms, and all of her friends and family. She imagines flying over a river—on... (full context)