Esperanza Rising


Pam Muñoz Ryan

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Esperanza Rising makes teaching easy.
Themes and Colors
Wealth, Privilege, and Class Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Rebirth Theme Icon
Activism and Solidarity Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Esperanza Rising, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Wealth, Privilege, and Class

Esperanza Ortega is a pampered, spoiled only child whose servants teasingly call her la reina—the queen. When her father, a wealthy rancher, dies after being attacked by bandits outside their family’s ranch in Aguascalientes, Mexico, Esperanza, her mother Ramona, and her Abuelita (grandmother) lose everything. Plunged into poverty, Esperanza must confront—and overcome—her misconceptions about class, poverty, and the “river” that she believes divides her from “peasants” and servants. Over the course…

read analysis of Wealth, Privilege, and Class

Grief and Loss

Though the early pages of Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising are filled with joy and vitality, very quickly, a staggering and violent loss upends Esperanza Ortega’s world and plunges her and her family into grief, poverty, and danger. As Esperanza, her mother Ramona, and her Abuelita consider how they can rebuild from the literal and figurative ashes of loss, Muñoz Ryan suggests that though grief and loss are debilitating, destabilizing forces, no life…

read analysis of Grief and Loss

Hope and Rebirth

Esperanza Ortega’s picture-perfect life on a lush, sprawling ranch in Mexico is upended in mere days when her father dies after being attacked by bandits, and her corrupt, lecherous uncles, Luis and Marco, burn the ranch house to the ground after Esperanza’s grieving mother Ramona rejects Luis’s sudden marriage proposal—a proposal meant to consolidate his wealth and power in the town where they all live. Esperanza and her mother are at the depths…

read analysis of Hope and Rebirth
Get the entire Esperanza Rising LitChart as a printable PDF.
Esperanza Rising PDF

Activism and Solidarity

When Esperanza Ortega and her mother, Ramona, arrive in California to work on a company farm harvesting and preparing fruits and vegetables, they are forced to leave behind the privileged world they once knew. On the farm, a burgeoning labor movement is taking place, and workers, led by the young but fierce Marta, are preparing to strike to demand better wages and living conditions. As Esperanza works to shed her attachment to her…

read analysis of Activism and Solidarity