Esperanza Rising Study Guide

Los Duraznos, Peaches

Isabel tells Esperanza that she is praying to be picked as Queen of the May at school. The Queen is picked based on grades, and so far Isabel has the best grades. Isabel tells her that usually the girls who wear nicer dresses are picked. Later, Esperanza asks Josafina if a Mexican girl has ever been chosen to be Queen of the May. Josafina tells her it is always a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Esperanza learns a new camp is being made for the workers from Oklahoma. This camp will have indoor plumbing and hot water. They will also have a swimming pool. The Mexicans can only swim in the pool on Friday afternoon, before they clean it on Saturday. Miguel walks in covered with dirt and tells them that he had to relinquish his position to men from Oklahoma. He had to spend the day digging ditches. Esperanza grows very angry and runs outside. Miguel chases her and finally catches her. She tells Miguel that nothing is right in America. Everything is unfair. She tells Miguel that he is still a second-class citizen in the United States. Miguel tells Esperanza that in the United States he still has a small opportunity to succeed with hard work. He did not have that in Mexico. When Miguel tries to console Esperanza she says she does not want his optimism with no proof that things will ever get better. She tells Miguel that he is still a peasant. He tells her that she still thinks she is a queen.

The next day Miguel is gone. He told Alfonso that he went north to find work but Esperanza believes he left because of their argument. Esperanza brings peaches home on the day Isabel finds out that she was not picked to be the Queen. Esperanza comforts Isabel and gives her the doll Papa gave her. Isabel is very grateful.

Esperanza and Hortensia visit the hospital and speak with Mama’s doctor. The doctor tells them that Mama can come home. Esperanza is elated. Hortensia tells Mama how mature Esperanza has become. When Mama comes home Esperanza tells Mama that Miguel left because Esperanza was mean to him. Mama tells Esperanza not to worry because she did not mean to be cruel. Mama says Miguel will come home.

Esperanza gets her valise to show Mama how much money she has saved to bring Abuelita to California. When she lifts the lid, she discovers that the money orders are gone.

Notes- This beginning of this chapter is the breaking point for Esperanza. As she watches those closest to her suffer from discrimination she is convinced that nothing will ever be all right in the United States. She is angry with Miguel because he retains his belief that he can get ahead. Esperanza believes that Miguel will never be anything besides a peasant in America.

Esperanza encounters a “mountain” when she learns that Mama can come home. However this happy moment is followed by another sad moment, or “valley,” when she discovers that her money orders have been taken.

Las Uvas, Grapes

Everyone believes that Miguel took the money orders. Even though Alfonso and Hortensia assure Esperanza that she will be paid back, she is very angry.

One day while Esperanza is working, Alfonso comes in his truck. Esperanza is worried that Mama is sick again. Instead, Alfonso says he received a message from Miguel that he needs to be picked up at the bus station and he wants Esperanza to come too. Esperanza is not particularly thrilled to see Miguel, but agrees to go anyhow. When Esperanza sees Miguel she asks if he has brought back what he stole. He says he did not, but he did bring something better. Esperanza looks past him and sees Abuelita. Miguel did not go to northern California for work, but to Mexico to bring Abuelita to them.

Mama is thrilled to see Abuelita. Esperanza wonders what Abuelita must think of their new home. She learns that Miguel exchanged messages with Abuelita through the poor box at the church because the brothers were watching her. Esperanza tells Abuelita everything that has happened since they were separated and realizes she has come to think of time in terms of crops.

A few days before her birthday Esperanza begs Miguel to take her to the foothills before sunrise. Together they lay on the ground and hear the earth’s heartbeat. Esperanza takes Miguel’s hand. On Esperanza’s birthday, the men sing to her from outside. She thinks of how grateful she is for what she has, even though this birthday is much different than her other birthdays.

Notes- This chapter provides both the novel’s climax and outcome. The climax of a plot is the major turning point that allows the protagonist to resolve the conflict. The climax of Esperanza Rising occurs when Miguel brings Abuelita to California. This is the most significant turning point because it proves to Esperanza that everything will be all right in California. Furthermore, Abuelita’s escape from Mexico is a final victory over Tío Luis and Tío Marco, who tried to prevent her from leaving. When Abuelita comes to California, Tío Luis and Tío Marco no longer have any power over Esperanza’s family.

The outcome, resolution, or denouement occurs when Esperanza and Miguel listen to the earth. This happens a full year after the tragedy of her father’s death. Esperanza has learned how to be rich in being poor.

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