Esperanza Rising Study Guide

Las Guayabas, Guavas

They use the wagon Tío Luis got them in order to escape. The men have built a secret compartment in which the women hide because of the numerous bandits roaming the land. Esperanza is nervous as she rides with Mama and Hortensia in the cramped space. Two days later they arrive at a train station. Esperanza is shocked that they have to ride in the small, packed cars which are unlike the spacious cars she rode in with Papa. Mama tells Esperanza that this is all they can afford. Esperanza looks in her suitcase at the doll from Papa. When a peasant child spies the doll, Esperanza snaps the case shut, causing the little girl to cry. Mama apologizes to the girl’s mother for Esperanza’s bad manners and makes a yarn doll for the child. In the meantime, Miguel and Alfonso mysteriously disappear when the train stops.

Later Mama talks to a poor woman who raises chickens to feed her family. Esperanza is surprised by how much Mama confides in the woman. As the woman leaves the train, she gives Mama a chicken. Miguel explains to Esperanza that the poor help those less fortunate than themselves.

Notes- In this chapter Esperanza has her first taste of what it is like to be poor. The rules seem to have changed for her. She must ride in a small train with dirty people. She is supposed to share her toys with other children. Mama tells strangers their business.

As he will throughout the story, Miguel helps Esperanza adjust to this new way of life. Miguel explains to Esperanza that the poor must rely on each other for help. Esperanza must learn, now that she is also poor, to be kind to others in the same way they are kind to her. Esperanza is not necessarily a selfish girl, but she has been rich for her entire life and never encountered the many situations she encounters on the train. The reader should remember that the author also shows examples of how the rich can be kind. Papa gave many of his workers land to live on and houses to live in. Because he was such a good man, his former employees (Hortensia and Alfonso) willingly help Mama and Esperanza when they have no one else to turn to.

Los Melones, Cantaloupes

At the border, all the passengers must pass through immigration. Mama is sad as she watches many get sent back.

A while later they arrive in Los Angeles where Alfonso’s family greets them. The next leg of the trip takes place in Alfonso’s rickety truck.

When they stop for lunch, Esperanza goes off alone and tries to hear the earth’s heartbeat. When she cannot hear it, she cries. Miguel finds her and holds her hand. She does not let go.

At the farm, Esperanza meets Marta. Marta is mean to Esperanza because she does not like rich people. As Isabel points out the many different groups of workers, Miguel asks if the people from Oklahoma have hot water yet. Marta says they do not, but when they get it there will be a strike (an intentional work stoppage, normally by the workers demanding better conditions, pay, or benefits).

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