Esperanza Rising is a book written by Pam Munoz Ryan set in the early 1930s, twenty years after the Mexican Revolution and during the Great Depression. At the beginning of the book, the author introduces the Ortega family that lives in El Rancho de Las Rosas in Aquascalientes, Mexico. The family members include the father Sixto, the mother Ramona, Abuelita, and their only daughter, the protagonist, Esperanza. The reader also meets the family's help: Alfonso. Hortensia, and their son Miguel.
The night before Esperanza's 15th birthday, her father Sixto was working late mending a fence along with the vaqueros who worked in the farm when bandits ambushed them. They stole their boots, saddles, and horses. Before the bandits left, they killed Esperanza's father. A metaphor was used by the author to share with the reader how much Sixto was beloved by the people in town, "they brought enough food to feed ten families" (p. 26).
After the family buries Sixto, Ramona, Abuelita, and Esperanza learn from two of the book's antagonists, Tio Luis and Tio Marco, that the Tios now own the land. The house and the vineyards belong to the women. However, Tio Luis offers Ramona a marriage proposal that will enable her to stay and own the farm.
After Ramona declines Tio Luis' offer of marriage, her life and that of her daughter and mother would get bad. A huge fire envelops the entire house and overnight, the Ortega women become homeless. The three women without a male protector in Aguascalientes makes them very vulnerable. Without money or male protection, they have no future in the countryside. The only thing Ramona, Abuelita, and Ezperanza can do is leave their homeland and rebuild their lives in the United States. When the decision is made not to accept a marriage proposal from Tio Luis, the event becomes a turning point in the life of the Ortega women. After the house burns, the reader knows that their lives will change forever.
symbolism-there are many symbols used in this book by the author to convey a message to the reader. When the Ortega's family house was burnt, the fire could symbolize that esperanza's future in Aguascalientes as the daughter of a rich farm owner went up in flames.
Without notifying the Tios, Esperanza and her mother joined Alsonso, Hortensia, and Miguel on a journey to the United States. Abuelita got hurt during the escape from the burning house but promised to join them as soon as she healed. During the journey, Esperanza learns that their circumstances have changed and they are no better than the peasants that ride alongside them on the train.
At the station, Alfonso's brother and his family were waiting for them. I believe that the Rising action in the story begins when the decision is made that the Ortega women must leave Mexico and escape to the U.S. to begin a new life. The rising action is the events that take place in the story up to the point when Ramona is taken to the hospital for Yellow Fever.
They fit the entire family in an old jalopy truck that was most likely used hauling animal in a farm. They rocked and swayed the long out of the San Fernando Valley and into Arvin.
Ramona and Esperanza were lucky in that Alfonso's brother was able to find them a job in the farm and a place to sleep.
At the farm, everybody had a job to do to earn a living. The men worked in the fields, the women had to work in the shed and the children had specific duties according to their ability or age. So, Hortensia and Ramona worked in the shed, Miguel and Alfonso in the fields, and Esperanza And Isabel helped take care of the babies and the laundry.
In the book, the author Pam Munoz Ryan helps the reader understand time by naming the chapters according to the picking season. Ramona and Esperanza arrived in the U.S. during the Los Melones season. Time passed while they became used to their new environment; time passed for picking The Cebollas, Las Almendras, and Las Ciruelas.
Everyone's faces, hair, and clothes were covered in brown dust. The kids were crying, the small animals like Chiquita (Isabel's kitten) were covered under layers of dust, and the entire campsite was in chaos.
After the storm, Ramona stopped eating, lost weight, and was very tired. Although the storm happened over a month ago, Ramona was running a high fever and feeling very sick. the doctor diagnosed her with Valley Fever.
After weeks of rest and more medicine, Ramona's health continued to get worse. The only option they had was for her to be taken to the Kern General Hospital in Bakersfield where she could receive proper treatment.
There were many nights Esperanza would cry herself to sleep. But, she was strong! While Ramona was in the hospital, Esperanza learned how to take care of herself, take care of the babies, garden, do the laundry, cook, and help others whenever she could. And each week that passed, she saved every nickel she earned in order to bring Abuelita to the U.S. The perseverance of Esperanza is one of the main themes the author develops throughout the novel. Even when things seemed really bad, Esperanza never gives up. She finds a way to overcome problems and obstacles that get in the way.
The climax in the story takes place when Esperanza assumes all responsibility of work and earning the money to bring Abuelita to the U.S. while Ramona is in the hospital recovering from Yellow fever and infection in her lungs. Esperanza moved to the shed to work alongside the other women cutting potato eyes. She also fed babies, cooked, and helped with laundry.
The falling action in the book begins with the events that take place when Esperanza is working in the shed until Abuelita arrives in the U.S. During this time, thousands of workers around the country were striking against farm owners and corporations because of the terrible pay and horrible working conditions. In their camp, the strikers put snakes in the working baskets. All because the migrants showed up for work and wouldn't join the strike. Thankfully, no one was bitten.
Esperanza had sent Abuelita money orders for more than a year to bring her into the U.S. Resolution in the book happens when Abuelita finally rejoins her family. One day, Alfonso got a message from Miguel to bring Hortensia and Esperanza and meet him in Bakersfield at 3:00 pm. It was a very hot and windy day and Esperanza did not understand why she was being taken there. But, to her surprise, it was not only Miguel meeting them there but also Abuelita who came off the bus to greet them.
At the hospital, the long-awaited reunion finally took place. After more than a year of separation the Ortega women were finally reunited!
In the last pages of the book, one of my favorite symbolism is shared with the reader when Esperanza found an injured bird in the garden. She thought that the bird would never be able to fly again. However, the next morning the bird lifted its wings and flew into the sky. Just like the injured bird, Esperanza knew that she would find her wings and learn to fly in her new homeland.
Bonus: Esperanza's inner conflict has to do with trying to figure out who she is. After her father's death, she went from being a rich farm owner's daughter to a poor peasant in another country. She has an identity crisis. Esperanza's outer conflict has been her lack of skills and language. She must learn how to speak English and become a good worker so that she keeps her job during the Great Depression and help sustain her family.