Esperanza Rising Study Guide

Los Aguacates, Avocados

Esperanza continues to work hard. She realizes that if she works until peach season, she will have enough money to bring Abuelita to California. Esperanza’s hands have grown rough. Hortensia makes her lotion to soothe them.

At the hospital, Esperanza learns that Mama is sicker. She has contracted pneumonia. No one can visit her for at least a month because she is so weak. Esperanza is allowed to see her for a few minutes. Esperanza tells Mama that she cannot see her for a while. She plaits Mama’s hair into a beautiful braid on top of her hair—the way she used to wear it in Mexico.

Hortensia sends Esperanza to the market with Miguel to get her away for a little bit. Miguel explains to Esperanza that they always go to Mr. Yakota’s Japanese grocery store because he does not discriminate against Mexicans. Esperanza buys a piñata to put next to Mama’s bed. On the way home they see Marta and her mother. Miguel offers them a ride. Esperanza sees what bad condition Marta’s camp is in. A family approaches them, asking for food. Esperanza gives them some food and gives the piñata to the children. Miguel says more people will be coming looking for jobs in the coming months. He hopes that in the meantime he will be able to get a job at the railroad while others strike.

A few nights later Esperanza comes home to a celebration. Miguel has gotten a job at the railroad.

Notes- In this chapter Esperanza shows that she has learned the importance of helping those even less fortunate than she. It is especially significant that Esperanza gives the piñata to the children. Esperanza realizes how little these children have. Even though she wanted to give the piñata to Mama, she knows how much the children will appreciate it.

Esperanza also witnesses first hand how other camps are even worse than the one she lives in. While Esperanza still does not want to strike, she begins to realize how unfairly the poor are treated. She also begins to realize that how unfair discrimination is when Miguel explains why they drive farther to Mr. Yakota’s store.

Los Espárragos, Asparagus

The strikers organize. Esperanza rides to work in a truck with a man who carries a gun to protect the workers from the strikers. The strikers shout at the workers in the trucks.

As the days pass, the strikers escalate. They put glass and snakes in the baskets the women separate and shout all day long. Esperanza grows so accustomed to the strikers’ chants that when they suddenly stop, she is startled. Immigration has come to the camp and performed a sweep, forcing the strikers to go to Mexico. Even those who were born in the United States must go to Mexico. Esperanza worries that she will be sent to Mexico too, but Hortensia assures her that they are safe because they are working. Esperanza finds Marta hiding in a corner. Marta begs Esperanza not to turn her in. Esperanza hesitates but remembers Marta’s mother and thinks of Mama. She cannot let Marta be separated from her mother. Moreover, Esperanza does not think it is fair that Marta should be sent to Mexico since she was born in the United States. Esperanza gives Marta a worker’s apron so she can escape undetected.

The next day Miguel drives Esperanza to Marta’s farm. It is abandoned. Immigration made a sweep there too. Esperanza notices the piñata that she gave to the children hanging from a tree, ripped apart.

Notes- In this chapter the threat of the strikers passes with their departure. Esperanza shows her compassion when she helps Marta. Although Esperanza does not like Marta, she cannot bear to see anyone separated from her mother. Moreover, Esperanza disagrees with the policy of sending people to Mexico who never even lived there.

The piñata hanging from the tree in the midst of such squalor shows how much the children must have appreciated Esperanza’s generosity. The children, who had nothing, were able to have a fun moment breaking open the piñata. In a place where childhood experiences are few and far between, this piñata must have meant more to the children than Esperanza could have imagined.

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