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Chapter Summaries: Esperanza Rising

written by: Pamela Rice-Linn • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 12/20/2012

If you’d like to read the novel Esperanza Rising with your class, but you don’t have a lot of time to read ahead, browse through these chapter summaries.

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    Esperanza Rising (1) Browsing through the chapter summaries will provide you with an opportunity to plan ahead, as well as assist you with reviewing for quizzes and exams. Whether you need to preview the novel or you’d like to review for exams, these Esperanza Rising chapter summaries cover the essential parts from each part of the novel.

    For students, while these Esperanza Rising chapter summaries are effective for review of the novel, they will not replace what you stand to gain by actually reading the novel. Text evidence from quotes, vocabulary acquisition, character analysis, and a study of themes and other literary elements are only some of the many useful skills you will acquire by reading beyond these Esperanza Rising chapter summaries.

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    Prologue (Aguascalientes, Mexico 1924)

    While walking through the vineyard, Esperanza Ortega’s father shows her how to listen for the heart of the surrounding valley by pressing her ear to the ground. She grows impatient, not hearing anything, but he reminds her that patience is rewarded. Soon, she too can hear the heart of the valley.

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    Las Uvas (Grapes)

    400px-Dornfelder Weinsberg 20080927 grapes It is now six years after the prologue and it is time to harvest the grapes. Esperanza is awarded the honor of slicing the first stem since she is the only child. In three weeks, Esperanza will celebrate her thirteenth birthday. She thinks about the future, about the time she will turn fifteen and have a presentation party. On the eve of her birthday she sits waiting in the rose garden for her Papa to come home. She picks a rose and pricks her thumb with a thorn. The blood does not stop and her first assumption is this is a sign of bad luck. Tío Luis and Tío Marco, Papa’s step brothers, show up at the ranch later that night with Papa’s silver belt buckle. Finally, Miguel and Alfonso return. Papa’s body is in the back of the wagon. He has been murdered.

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    Las Papayas (Papayas)

    Esperanza wakes from a dream thinking her father and others are outside her window serenading her because today is her thirteenth birthday. Mr. Rodriguez, their neighbor and family friend, has brought the basket of papayas for the birthday feast which will no longer happen. Only days after the funeral does Esperanza remember to open her gifts. Her favorite is the porcelain doll she received from her father. Esperanza’s uncles visit the ranch every day, and after the reading of Papa’s will, they discover the land has been left to Tío Luis and the house to Mama. Luis uses this time to propose marriage to Mama as a solution to their property conflict, but he is planning to run for governor and he’d secretly like Mama’s influence to help him win the campaign. Mama refuses. Miguel finds Esperanza in the garden and tries to comfort her, but she is embarrassed by their contact.

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    Los Higos (Figs)

    Esperanza wakes to find the house is on fire. Miguel rescues Abuelita. She has twisted ankle while retrieving her crocheting. The next morning the tíos return to offer Mama another chance at marriage, which she accepts. Esperanza does not learn until later that soon she, Mama, and all of Hortensia’s family will escape to California to work in the fields. Abuelita will stay with her sisters, the nuns, until she can join her family once more. Abuelita instructs Esperanza to continue working on the blanket they started together.

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    Las Guayabas (Guavas)

    Under cover of night, Esperanza and her family walk to Mr. Rodriguez’s neighboring ranch. They escape from Aguascalientes in the back of a wagon covered with guavas. Esperanza remembers escaping bandits when she was younger, how Miguel saved their lives, and how Papa had rewarded them with a train ride. At the train station in Zacatecas, Esperanza cannot understand why they did not board the fancy car. She hides her doll from a poor little girl, an act which earns her mother’s scorn. Her mother reminds her to think before she looks down her nose at poor people, for they are just like Hortensia and Alfonso, the people to whom they are now indebted. They meet Carmen, a poor woman who claims to be rich because she has the best of the simple things in life.

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    Keep reading on the next page for more about Esperanza Rising chapter summaries.

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    Esperanza Rising (1) These Esperanza Rising chapter summaries, while useful for review, are not a substitute for reading the novel.

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    Los Melones (Cantaloupes)

    The travelers finally reach the United States. After a scare at immigration, they continue through California on the train to Los Angeles. Alfonso’s brother and his family meet them and drive them back to the San Joaquin Valley. When the families stop to eat lunch, Esperanza wanders away, thinks of her father, and learns that Miguel also misses him. Just before they reach their destination, they stop to pick up Marta, a field worker on a neighboring farm. Esperanza is immediately uncomfortable around Marta because she is rude to Esperanza. This is the first time Esperanza learns about the living conditions for farm workers.

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    Las Cebollas (Onions)

    At the farm, Esperanza and Mama settle into their new home with Alfonso and Hortensia. Esperanza is immediately frustrated and resistant to the obvious change and contrast from her old living conditions. The next morning everyone wakes early to start work out in the field. Esperanza and Isabel stay behind to take care of the twin babies. Isabel introduces Esperanza to some of Melina and Irene. Later, she teaches her how to wash diapers. Esperanza’s other job is to sweep the platform, but she doesn’t know how to use a broom. She runs back to the house after Marta and some other girls laugh at her. Miguel teaches Esperanza how to sweep. After, Esperanza admits to Isabel there are many things she must learn if she is to take care of the babies by herself when Isabel goes back to school.

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    Las Almendras (Almonds)

    Alfonso and Miguel surprise Esperanza and Mama with a small shrine they’ve created using an old washtub, a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and cuttings from Papa’s rose garden. The next morning during bath time, Esperanza is embarrassed because she acts like Hortensia will bath her, but Hortensia is no longer her maid and she must now do for herself. At the Jamaica, Esperanza observes Marta rallying the other workers to strike. She learns more about migrant camp living conditions and why Marta is so angry. She also learns about other migrants coming from across the United States. Finally, as everyone is asleep, Mama praises Esperanza for the changes she’s made and for all that she’s learned.

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    Las Ciruelas (Plums)

    800px-Plum on tree On her first day alone with the babies, Esperanza feeds them. When the babies get sick to their stomachs and she must change their diapers continuously, Esperanza forgets about the beans she was supposed to stir. The beans burn, but Esperanza remembers a cure for upset stomach and manages to help the babies recover. On her second day, Esperanza goes outside to chat with Melina and Irene, but soon after a dust storm blows across the farm. After the storm, the others return covered in dust and coughing. Mama is the only one who does not stop coughing. When she does not wake up, a doctor is sent for, and Esperanza soon learns Mama has contracted Valley Fever.

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    Las Papas (Potatoes)

    Esperanza looks after Mama, but Mama is not recovering. The doctor recommends Mama go to the hospital. Mama is now depressed as well as ill. Once Mama is in the hospital, Esperanza resolves to find a job in the packing shed with Miguel’s help. While she is cutting potato eyes, Esperanza learns about repatriation. A few nights before Christmas, Isabel asks Esperanza to tell her about celebrating the Christmas season in Aguascalientes. The memories move Esperanza to tears. She marvels how Isabel could be so happy with the simplest things. When Esperanza visits Mama, she has nothing but a pretty stone to give her and the promise that she will take care of her now.

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    Keep reading to learn more about Esperanza Rising chapter summaries.

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    These Esperanza Rising chapter summaries, while useful for review, are not a substitute for reading the novel.

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    Los Aguacates (Avocados)

    450px-Avacado on tree (closeup) Esperanza notices the toll of cold and work on her hands. The next time Esperanza visits her mother, the doctor informs her that Mama now has pneumonia. A few days later, Miguel drives Esperanza to Mr. Yakota’s market. From Miguel, she learns about society’s prejudice against Mexicans. Impulsively, she decides to buy Mama a piñata. On the way home Miguel and Esperanza see Marta and her mother walking along the side of the road and offer them a ride. Esperanza notices how Marta and her mother hold hands and which makes her miss her own mother. At Marta’s camp, Esperanza is horrified by the living conditions she witnesses. A poor family approach the truck and ask for help. Esperanza fills their hat with beans and gives the candy-filled piñata to the children. A few nights later Miguel’s family celebrates because Miguel has finally found a job with the railroad.

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    Los Espárragos (Asparagus)

    At work the next day, Esperanza, Hortensia, and Josefina must cross the picket lines to get into the packing shed. As the strike goes on for days, the strikers try to deter the workers by sneaking snakes, rats, and broken glass into the asparagus bundles. One day the chanting stops because immigration officials have arrived. They round up the strikers, load them onto a bus, and send them back to Mexico. Esperanza discovers Marta hiding behind some crates. Rather than turn her in, Esperanza decides to help her. Esperanza is moved by the injustice of repatriation, and the next day she asks Miguel to drive her to Marta’s camp, but they find it has been cleared out. Only the donkey piñata, insides ripped out, remains hanging from a tree.

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    Los Duraznos (Peaches)

    395px-Flameprince peaches Isabel shares her desire to be crowned Queen of the May. She is the only student who has met all of the qualifications, but the teacher must choose. Upon learning that the Oklahoma migrants will have a new camp with a pool, Esperanza grows frustrated once more with the injustice of their existence, especially when she hears that Miguel’s job was given to people from Oklahoma who were not qualified. Esperanza and Miguel argue: she cannot understand his optimism, he cannot understand her lack of patience. The next morning Miguel is gone. Isabel comes home from school that afternoon in tears. Esperanza consoles her by giving her the last porcelain doll her father gave her. The next time she visits the hospital, Esperanza learns Mama can now come home. Upon her arrival at the farm, Esperanza goes to show her mother all the money she has saved. That’s when Esperanza discovers all of her money orders are gone.

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    Las Uvas (Grapes)

    Esperanza Rising (1) While packing peaches one day, Alfonso comes to the shed and tells Hortensia and Esperanza he has heard from Miguel and they are to meet him in Los Angeles at the bus station. Esperanza is astonished to see Abuelita emerge from the bus. Miguel has brought her back from Mexico. Back at the camp, Esperanza and Abuelita surprise Mama while she is resting in the shade under a tree. Abuelita shares how Tío Luis responded to Mama and Esperanza’s disappearance. Esperanza tells their story to Abuelita according to the growing seasons. A few days before her birthday, Esperanza and Miguel drive to the foothills to watch the sunrise. They both lie flat on the ground to listen to the heartbeat of the valley. Esperanza turns over and envisions herself gliding high above the ground, but instead of being afraid and losing control, she feels free and empowered. On the morning of her birthday, Esperanza is serenaded by Alfonso, Miguel and Juan. She watches as Abuelita teaches Isabel to crochet her first stitch and instructs her to not be afraid to start over.

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    Follow up your review of Esperanza Rising chapter summaries with vocabulary review, literary analysis, or a glimpse at some relevant quotes from the novel. You’ll be sure to find ideas for activities and lesson plans as well as gain a better understanding of the novel, Esperanza Rising.

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    Image Sources

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dornfelder_Weinsberg_20080927.jpg

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Plum_on_tree.jpg

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Avacado_on_tree_(closeup).JPG

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flameprince_peaches.jpg