“He who falls today may rise tomorrow." (Mexican proverb)
This proverb from the first page of the novel refers to a theme of hope within the novel. Esperanza and her family suffer hardship after hardship, and yet she overcomes her faults and perseveres for her loved ones because they are all she has.
- “Wait a little while and the fruit will fall into your hand," (p. 2)
Esperanza’s father meant this saying on many levels. As a rancher and vineyard owner, it was customary to speak of the richness of his land. But the reader can also conclude he is teaching his daughter about patience. Anything good is worth waiting for. It is a lesson worth repeating throughout the novel.
“No hay rosas sin espinas," (p. 14)
When Esperanza pokes her finger on a rose thorn, there is prolonged pain and it takes a while for the blood to stop flowing. Abuelita and Mama interpret this as a bad sign, but Abuelita reminds Esperanza that there are no roses without thorns. The reader can conclude the rose is a symbol for life. You cannot have beauty without pain, good without bad, ups without downs.
- “Do not be afraid to start over," (p. 15)
Esperanza did not know how to crochet very well, but Abuelita unraveled Esperanza’s errors and advised her to not be afraid of her mistakes. Take the time to correct them. Also, do not be afraid of change.
“We are like the phoenix," said Abuelita. “Rising again, with a new life ahead of us." (p. 50)
Abuelita’s comment is a reference to the mythological phoenix that dies in flames and rises again from its own ashes. Abuelita is trying to inspire Esperanza to look to the future with hope. With the murder of her father and the destruction of her home, Esperanza must also rise from the ashes. She must rebuild her foundation so that she can rise above her troubles and feel proud about who she is.
- “When you scorn these people, you scorn Miguel, Hortensia, and Alfonso. And you embarrass me and yourself. As difficult as it is to accept, our lives are different now." (p. 70)
After refusing to let a young girl with dirty hands touch her precious doll, Esperanza is astonished to discover her mother’s embarrassment. Mama must remind Esperanza of their new place in society. If Esperanza is going to adjust to her new life, she will have to shake off her old attitudes about propriety and do what is right and kind for people, especially since the only people they can turn to for help are the friends who once worked as their servants.
- “My father says that Mr. Yakota is a very smart businessman. He is getting rich on other people’s bad manners." (p. 188)
Miguel helps Esperanza see what the world is like outside the camp where they work. Mr. Yakota stocks his store with things his all of his customers need, including his Mexican customers. Only bad manners and ignorance would cause someone to fail to see that we’re all just people, people with families, with needs, with money to spend.