Esperanza Rising


Pam Muñoz Ryan

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Papa’s Roses Symbol Analysis

Papa’s Roses Symbol Icon

When Esperanza, Ramona, and their former servants Hortensia, Alfonso, and Miguel flee El Rancho de las Rosas—in Spanish, “the ranch of the roses”—for California, Miguel and Alfonso bring along a mysterious package. When their group arrives in California, Miguel and Alfonso reveal that they have brought along a surprise for Esperanza and Ramona that will keep them connected to the home they loved so much before Sixto’s cruel stepbrothers Luis and Marco burned it to the ground: they have salvaged the stems from some of Sixto’s roses, which Alfonso helped him to plant and grow years before. Alfonso plants the roses outside their group’s cabin in California, and while Esperanza waits for them to grow, the promise of new blooms is symbolic of Esperanza’s hope in the face of pain and desire for rebirth, as painful as change, adaptation, and moving on in the face of loss may be.

Papa’s Roses Quotes in Esperanza Rising

The Esperanza Rising quotes below all refer to the symbol of Papa’s Roses. 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
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 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:
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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Papa’s Roses Symbol Timeline in Esperanza Rising

The timeline below shows where the symbol Papa’s Roses appears in Esperanza Rising. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Las Uvas (Grapes)
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 her there. When she... (full context)
Chapter 2: Las Papayas (Papayas)
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon the Ortegas. As the conversation goes around “in circles,” Esperanza goes out to the rose garden to be alone. (full context)
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...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 they were little, Papa planted special... (full context)
Chapter 3: Los Higos (Figs)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon find some of her things to salvage. Everything, though, has turned to ash—even Papa’s rose garden has burned up, leaving only flowerless stems behind. (full context)
Chapter 7: Las Almendras (Almonds)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...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 are... (full context)
Chapter 12: Los Duraznos (Peaches)
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
...fault. She goes outside to the statue to pray for Miguel, and sees that the roses have begun to bloom. (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
...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 the... (full context)