Esperanza Rising Study Guide

Las Ciruelas, Plums

Esperanza watches Pepe and Lupe for the first time alone because Isabel begins school. Everything seems to go well until Pepe and Lupe begin soiling their diapers. Esperanza thinks they may be sick, but then it occurs to her that she should not have fed them plums for lunch because their stomach are too delicate. In the meantime, Esperanza also burns the beans for dinner. Esperanza thinks to feed the babies rice water to make them better and it works. Later, Isabel tells her that was the right thing to do.

Soon after, a dust storm hits the camp, covering everything in dirt. Everything must be washed and cleaned off. Mama comes home from work coughing and does not stop.

A while later Mama is still sick. Hortensia makes soup for Mama to make her feel better. When Esperanza tries to wake Mama to tell her the soup is ready. Mama does not wake up and she has a very high fever. A doctor comes to the cabin and tells them that Mama has Valley Fever. If she recovers at all, it could take up to six months for her to regain her strength.

Notes- This chapter shows how there are mountains in valleys in Esperanza's life, just as Abuelita predicted. Esperanza is in a valley when the babies get sick, but then back on a mountain when she makes them better. When Mama gets sick, Esperanza encounters a very deep valley.

Mama's sickness is a major turning point in the plot. A turning point is a moment in the plot when a significant change occurs. At this turning point, Esperanza's life changes again. She is learning to live her new life without Papa; now she might have to live without Mama too.

Las Papas, Potatoes

Esperanza stays by Mama’s side constantly. She thinks about how much Mama needs Abuelita. As Esperanza watches over Mama, she works on the blanket Abuelita gave her and thinks about the mountains and valleys. Mama grows sicker.

When the doctor visits, he says Mama should be in a hospital. The doctor says she is weak and also depressed. On the way to the hospital, Hortensia explains to Esperanza that when people are sad it is harder to get better.

Esperanza decides she must work with the women in order to make money to pay Mama?s bills and get Abuelita to California. Esperanza begins cutting potato eyes. She copies everything that Hortensia and Josafina do. Esperanza meets Marta?s aunt, who is also cutting potato eyes. Marta?s aunt will not strike, but she tells Esperanza that anyone who strikes could be sent to Mexico?even if they are United States citizens. Marta?s aunt also tells Esperanza that the strikers might try to injure those who do not strike.

Christmas comes and Esperanza spends the day with Mama in the hospital. Mama does not wake up the entire time Esperanza is there. All Esperanza has to give Mama is a smooth stone. She tells Mama not to worry because she will take care of them.

Notes- Esperanza shows how brave and mature she is becoming in this chapter. She is much different than the scared child who first came to the camp. Esperanza has assumed the responsibility of caring for Mama by doing adult work. This Christmas is not the exciting event it usually is for Esperanza; all she wants is for Mama to get better.

The strike continues to be a threat. Esperanza learns that no matter what side she chooses, there is potential danger.

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