Esperanza Rising

Guide cover image

57 pages • 1 hour read

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapters 1-4

Chapters 5-7

Chapters 8-11

Chapters 12-14

Character Analysis

Symbols & Motifs

Important Quotes

Essay Topics

Discussion Questions

Summary and Study Guide

Pam Muñoz Ryan is the award-winning author of over 40 books for new readers, middle-grade students, and young adults. Esperanza Rising (2000) is one of her most popular works and was honored with the 2001 Southern California Judy Lopez Award and the 2001 Arizona Young Adult Book Award. It also became a 2001 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist. Other titles by the same author include Riding Freedom (1998), Becoming Naomi Léon (2004), Paint the Wind (2007), The Dreamer (2010), and Echo (2015).

Esperanza Rising is categorized as children’s historical fiction. It is intended for readers in grades 3 through 7. The novel draws on Muñoz Ryan’s Mexican heritage and her memories of growing up in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The character Esperanza is based on Ryan’s grandmother and her experience as a migrant worker in a company camp during the Great Depression.

Get access to this full Study Guide and much more!

  • 7,650+ In-Depth Study Guides
  • 4,850+ Quick-Read Plot Summaries
  • Downloadable PDFs

The story begins in 1924 in Aguascalientes, Mexico, but quickly skips forward to 1930 and covers events from autumn 1930 to autumn 1931. Most of the action takes place in a migrant worker camp in Arvin, California. The story is told using limited third-person narration from the perspective of 13-year-old Esperanza Ortega .

Esperanza begins life as the pampered only child of a wealthy Mexican landowner, but her world is shattered on her 13th birthday when her father is killed by bandits. She is separated from her grandmother and forced to flee to America with her mother to escape the clutches of greedy relatives. The author uses Esperanza’s transformation from a princess to a peasant to explore the themes about the true meaning of wealth , the importance of family , and how to embrace new beginnings in life.

The SuperSummary difference

  • 8x more resources than SparkNotes and CliffsNotes combined
  • Study Guides you won ' t find anywhere else
  • 100+ new titles every month

The page citations in this study guide refer to the Kindle edition of the book.

Plot Summary

Esperanza Ortega lives a life of luxury on a ranch in Mexico with her father, mother, and grandmother. They are attended by their faithful servants, Hortensia and Alfonso . Their servants’ son Miguel has been Esperanza’s lifelong friend. On the eve of her 13th birthday, Esperanza proudly participates in the ritual of initiating the grape harvest. That night, she learns that her father and his men have been killed by bandits. Esperanza is devastated as are her mother, Ramona , and Abuelita , her grandmother. Her father’s greedy stepbrothers soon take control of the estate. Her uncle Luis tries to force Ramona to marry him by setting fire to the house and burning all the family’s possessions. Esperanza, Ramona, and Abuelita escape and take shelter with their servants, but Abuelita sprains her ankle and must stay at a local convent until she recovers.

Meanwhile, the servants smuggle Esperanza and Ramona out of the country, and everyone finds jobs as migrant farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley. Esperanza has a terrible time adjusting to the hard work and cramped living conditions in her new home. She constantly laments the loss of her father and fortune until Ramona falls ill with Valley Fever. Fearing to lose her mother too, Esperanza steps up to the challenge and goes to work to earn enough money to bring her grandmother to California.

Esperanza’s troubles multiply when Ramona develops pneumonia. Meanwhile, other migrants are pressing to form a union and are threatening those workers who don’t want to join. Between union agitators causing trouble and a raid by the Immigration Bureau, Esperanza is terrified that she and her friends will be harmed or sent back to Mexico. Fortunately, Miguel finds a way to bring Abuelita to America and reunite her with Ramona and Esperanza. The novel ends on a hopeful note as Esperanza finally lets go of her lost past and looks forward to a better future for herself and her family.

blurred text

Don't Miss Out!

Access Study Guide Now

Related Titles

By Pam Muñoz Ryan

Guide cover image

Becoming Naomi Leon

Pam Muñoz Ryan

Guide cover image

Riding Freedom

Guide cover image

Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs

Guide cover image

The Dreamer

Pam Muñoz Ryan, Illustr. Peter Sis

Featured Collections

Coming-of-Age Journeys

View Collection

Popular Study Guides

Poverty & Homelessness

Required Reading Lists

esperanza rising theme essay

In Esperanza Rising , author Pam Muñoz Ryan shares the story of Esperanza Ortega, a young child forced to flee her home in Mexico after her father is murdered. After a long, difficult journey, Esperanza and her mother settle in a camp for Mexican farmworkers in California and endure hard labor, financial struggles, and discrimination.

For young readers of Esperanza Rising , this novel provides an opportunity to learn about the plight of Mexican workers during the Great Depression and reflect on what it takes to rise above tragedy, adversity, and the harsh realities immigrants often face . This novel also presents complex themes related to race, class, courage, and compassion to your students, while introducing them to the power of passionate storytelling .

During reading, encourage your students to reflect on the experience of Esperanza through writing and discussion. The following 18 prompts will not only help boost your students’ comprehension of the story, but they’ll also help your young readers connect with Esperanza’s inspiring story in a deeper and more meaningful way.

1. Why does the author open with a scene of Esperanza and her father lying down to hear the heartbeat of the earth? How does this shared experience seem to affect Esperanza's relationship with her father?

2. Explain Mama's reasons for leaving Mexico. Would you have been willing to make the same decision if you were in her situation? Why or why not?

3. Esperanza and Miguel take a train ride together as young children. Compare this train ride to the one they take when going to live in America.

4. What does Esperanza mean when she says to Miguel that there is a "deep river" that runs between them? Does this change in California? If so, describe how their relationship changes and give reasons for why this might happen.

5. Describe the cabin where Esperanza must live in America. How does this home compare to her home in Mexico? When Esperanza points out these differences, why does Mama become angry with her? Is Mama right to be angry with her? Why or why not?

6. A poor woman on the train to Los Angeles explains that although she is poor, she is rich. How can a poor person be rich? How can a rich person be poor?

7. Why does Esperanza dislike Marta when they first meet? What makes Esperanza change her mind about Marta?

8. After the dust storm, Mama is the only one of the workers in the cabin to become ill. Why is this so? How does her illness affect Esperanza? Why does Esperanza agree to cut the eyes out of the potatoes?

9. When Esperanza is told she cannot visit her mother for several weeks, she describes her life as going through "the motions of living." Have you ever felt this way? If so, describe how. What does Esperanza do to increase the amount of joy in her life?

10. Why does Miguel drive out of his way to shop at the Japanese store? What does Alfonso mean when he tells Miguel that Mr. Yakota is "getting rich on other people's bad manners"?

11.  Compare the strikers' camp to the camp in which Esperanza lives. How does seeing this camp and its inhabitants affect Esperanza?

12.  Alfonso and Miguel keep telling Esperanza that if is she does good work the farmers will keep employing her. Do you believe that philosophy applies in today's world? Why or why not?

13.  What do you think of "voluntary deportation"? Is this a peaceful or violent way to handle the situation with the strikers? Did Esperanza do the right thing by helping Marta and risking the chance of being deported herself?

14.  Papa's words, "Wait a little while and the fruit will fall into your hands," are said by Miguel in a heated argument with Esperanza. How does this idea relate to the titles of the chapters in this novel? How does this relate to the end of the novel when Esperanza is retelling all the events from California to Abuelita?

15.  When Esperanza finds out Miguel has taken her money orders, she is devastated. Describe how she must feel when Alfonso comes to take her to the train station to pick Miguel up. Is she justified to feel this way? What was Miguel's reason for taking the money? What do his actions mean?

16.  The last section of the novel has Esperanza and Miguel listening to the heartbeat of the earth. What does this parallel to the first chapter mean?

17.  The novel ends with Esperanza teaching Isabel how to crochet the zigzag stitch. How do the "mountains and valleys" compare to the plot of the novel? Is there a skill or talent that someone in your family has that you have learned or would like to learn? Please describe.

18.  Read the last sentence of the novel and explain how it relates to the book's themes.

After reading, invite your students to imagine being taken out of their life right now and put in a work camp like Esperanza’s. Encourage your students to reflect on how they would react and how they would overcome the harsh realities of their new life using the lessons they learned from Esperanza Rising .

Order your class copies of Esperanza Rising below! You can find all books and activities at The Teacher Store . For more teacher resources on the expansive works of Pam Muñoz Ryan, check out this discussion guide .

  • Lesson Plans
  • Teacher's Guides
  • Media Resources

Esperanza Rising : Learning Not to Be Afraid to Start Over

Mexican woman farm laborer picking tomatoes in a California field, 1938.

Mexican woman farm laborer picking tomatoes in a California field, 1938. These were the very same circumstances and times that Esperanza lived and worked in as a child.

Library of Congress

When Esperanza is a young girl learning with difficulty to crochet, her grandmother unravels all of her rows and advises, "Do not be afraid to start over." Although Esperanza does not realize it at the time, this advice will become her guiding principle as she learns to confront some of life's harsher realities.

A Spanish-language edition Esperanza Renace is also available.

Guiding Questions

What challenges must Esperanza overcome when she leaves her home in Mexico to live in the United States?

What is the source of Esperanza's "hope" for happiness?

Why does Esperanza's story resonate today?

How do familial relations influence how we view and interact in the world?

Learning Objectives

Analyze and identify the structural elements of the novel and how they contribute to meaning.

Use specific examples from the text to support interpretations of the story.

Situate the novel in historical context and explore connections between literature and history.

Draw upon text-based evidence and interpretation of historical documents to analyze the novel and understand the historical context of the Mexican Revolution and Great Depression

Draw connections between the historical fiction in the novel and the present day, focusing on immigration and the experience of immigrants to the United States

Lesson Plan Details

Esperanza Rising  was inspired by the stories author Pam Muñoz Ryan was told as a child by her grandmother, Esperanza Ortega Muñoz. Set in the early 1930s, twenty years after the Mexican Revolution and during the Great Depression, Esperanza Rising tells the story of a young Mexican girl's courage and resourcefulness when at the age of thirteen she finds herself living in a strange new world. Esperanza, whose name means "hope" in Spanish, is born to a world of pampered comfort and privilege on a large and successful ranch. But when her father is killed by bandits, she and her mother are eventually forced to flee their life of privilege and travel to the United States where they survive as best they can as migrant farm laborers. When her mother falls ill with Valley Fever, Esperanza learns the value of family and friends. She finds ways to care for her mother and cope with the difficulties of making a new home, rising again like the mythical phoenix in the stories her grandmother told her when she was a child.

On one important level Esperanza Rising is a heartwarming story of a young girl who learns the importance of love and sacrifice for family and friends, but on another level it is also a lesson in the cultural as well as personal struggles that poor families, especially immigrants and farm laborers, must experience.

The novel begins with Esperanza as a child of six in 1924, then jumps ahead six years to the eve of her thirteenth birthday. An EDSITEment feature, The Centennial of the Mexican Revolution, 1910-2010 , provides a comprehensive background on The Mexican Revolution. Although the Revolution officially ended with the proclamation of the new Constitution of 1917, fighting continued until 1920, and instances of lawlessness and revolutionary activity lingered with the assassinations of Emiliano Zapata in 1919, of Carranza, the first President elected after the proclamation of the new Constitution, in 1920, and of Pancho Villa in 1923. At the time of the story, bandits, some of them former revolutionaries, were still active, especially against the large landowners like Esperanza's family. This historical background lends depth and richness to the plot and setting as well as to the characters.

The novel is set on a large ranch in Aguascalientes, Mexico, which a decade earlier had been a center of revolutionary activity, and in migrant labor camps near Arvin, California.

The opening chapters of the book introduce students to the class divides in early 20th-century Mexico, which, like similar distinctions in the United States, were based not only on social class and education but on economics and ethnicity. In the early decades of the 20th century there was great discontent among Mexicans over the distribution of land and wealth as well as over participation in Mexican politics. The  Getty Museum website online exhibition on " Mexico from Empire to Revolution " includes photographs and background information on the lives of ordinary people in the time of the revolution.

Although the Revolution of 1910 brought political reform, some remained unsatisfied with the results. Pam Muñoz Ryan mentions at least two occasions when bandits attack the ranch owned by Esperanza's family, and it was bandits who killed her father, Sixto Ortega, and set the story of Esperanza's immigration to the United States in motion. These bandits, sometimes former revolutionaries, continued to carry out raids against the large landowners many years after the revolution. And even though Esperanza's father is generous and has given land to his campesinos , or field workers, there are still those who remember the revolution and the great resentment over the unfair distribution of land and the divide between the rich and the poor. During and after the Mexican Revolution many Mexicans who could not find work immigrated to the U.S. where they often became migrant farm laborers on the large farms of California. 

Esperanza Rising is also set in the midst of the Great Depression that affected much of the world in the 1930s. The website for the another PBS documentary, Surviving the Dustbowl , has helpful background on The Great Depression and other events leading to the enormous internal migration of American farm families from the dustbowl of the American Midwest. These displaced families were the Okies made famous by John Steinbeck in his Grapes of Wrath and also referred to in Esperanza Rising . The Dustbowl website includes a timeline of related historical events.

The Okies were as desperate for work as the Mexican farm laborers and their growing numbers were creating a labor glut in California. Farmers and growers were able to take advantage of this situation and reduce labor costs, paying lower wages and providing only the bare minimum in the way of accommodations. Some of the farm laborers attempted to form a union and encourage other laborers to strike for better working conditions and higher wages. In time the U.S. Government stepped in and attempted to force repatriation of many of the Mexican farm laborers, some of whom were born in the U.S. or had become citizens. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service conducted raids and deported many thousands of Mexican laborers and their families. Photos of the Great Depression are available on the American Memory website at the Library of Congress. 

Among the many hardships that Esperanza and her mother experience is the very difficult case of Valley Fever that Ramona, Esperanza's mother, catches after the dust storm. Although medical care is expensive for Esperanza, it is available in the county hospital. You can learn more about this disease, Coccidioidomycosis , from Medline Plus on the National Institutes of Health website.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

This lesson assumes that students have already been asked to read Esperanza Rising , and although some of the activities could begin while they are reading, the fourth activity requires knowledge of the entire novel.

Prior to assigning activities

  • Review the lesson plan and the websites used throughout. Locate and bookmark suggested resources and websites. Some of the websites with large numbers of photographs should be used with careful guidance from the teacher to help put the images into an appropriate context for the study of the novel.
  • Listen to the interview with Augustus Martinez and two interviews with  Jose Flores,  two Mexican migrant farmers who experienced this reality firsthand, archived by the Library of Congress mentioned for Activity 3. These audio files offer a wealth of relevant material. They can be assigned as homework, but will reward group listening and discussion in class. Each interview is approximately 8 to 10 minutes long.
  • Preview the materials available on the EDSITEment LaunchPad , the Immigration Worksheet. The Library of Congress offers a teaching resource featuring the history of  Immigration from Mexico.  Preview materials for the EDSITEment Launchpad, the Story Worksheet.

Note: Students can use the Student Activity page for this lesson, which guides them through these activities.

Activity 1. A Birthday at El Rancho de las Rosas

After students have read at least the first three or four chapters of Esperanza Rising , ask them to imagine what Esperanza's life was like as the pampered child of a wealthy landowner. The goal of this activity is to introduce students to some elements of Mexican culture from the novel, but also to emphasize some of the stark contrasts between Esperanza's privileged position early in the story and her later experiences. Students should also begin to understand the various social and class distinctions as well as the economic divisions between Esperanza's immediate family and their servants and farm workers.

To introduce some of these important differences ask students to take part in a short dramatic sketch reenacting Esperanza's birthday party. You may want to begin by asking your class to locate Aguascalientes on a map of Mexico such as the one on the  National Geographic website . Then ask them to imagine what it would have been like to be Esperanza on her birthday? This activity could take the form of a short play that the students write in which they assume the roles of the family and farm workers and friends from the area celebrating Esperanza's birthday, the one prior to the family tragedy.

Ask students to use details from the novel to create a birthday celebration for Esperanza. Encourage them to mention food, games, gifts, and the birthday song, as well as the parts played by the family, friends, and servants. The Texas State Library has online audio files of Las Mañanitas , the Birthday Song. Before they begin ask them to discuss and answer the following questions.

  • Who comes to Esperanza's birthday party?
  • How many friends her own age does she have?
  • What gifts does she expect to receive?
  • What are the games they play and songs they sing?
  • What is the birthday song?

When they have written and performed their play, ask students to discuss what they have learned about Esperanza and her family from the birthday party? Try to get them to notice and comment on any cultural differences that occur to them, such as the absence of a birthday cake and the relatively small number of children Esperanza's own age.

Activity 2. Immigrating to the United States

After students have looked at the web resources and have read at least the first six chapters of the book, through "Los Melones" (cantaloupes), ask them to imagine what it would have been like for Esperanza and her mother to decide to leave their family's ranch and travel to California. The goal of this second activity is to encourage students to appreciate some of the jarring dislocations that Esperanza and her mother, Ramona, and grandmother experience after the death of Esperanza's father, Sixto Ortega. Their family tragedy is made worse by the greed and cruelty of Esperanza's uncles, Tío Marco and Tío Luis, who force Ramona to decide whether to marry her brother-in-law Luis and stay on in Aguascalientes, along with all the hardships that would bring, or to take her daughter and flee with her former servants Alfonzo and Hortensia and their son Miguel and begin a new life in what for them will be a strange new country.

In preparation for this activity, students will benefit from reviewing some of the following web resources. You can assign some of this as homework, using the EDSITEment Study Activity , but you may want to introduce some of the many photographs on these sites, not all of which will be relevant to Esperanza Rising , in class. A good place to start is by asking students to return to Aguascalientes on a map of Mexico, such as the one on the National Geographic website; then ask them to find Mexicali, the railroad terminus on the California border, and Los Angeles and Arvin (which is not named but is near Bakersfield) on the National Geographic map of California. This should help them to appreciate the great distance that Esperanza and her mother must travel (and that Miguel will have to travel later in the story to bring Esperanza's grandmother Abuelita to join them in California).

There is some helpful background information on the history of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and its aftermath on the  EDSITEment-reviewed Latin American Network Information Center. Students can also learn more about the lives of ordinary people like those in the story and look at a collection of photographs on the "Mexico from Empire to Revolution" on the EDSITEment-reviewed website of the Getty Museum . 

This activity, which encourages critical thinking and analysis, can be assigned individually or to small work groups. Ask students to make lists of the pros and cons to help them understand what was at stake for Ramona and Esperanza when they had to decide whether to stay in Aguascalientes or flee to California. Encourage them to think about what the consequences might be for each decision. Students may also want to trace the route of the trip to the United States on a map. As they work on the assignment they will be asked to consider the following questions:

  • Why is Ramona opposed to marrying Tío Luis?
  • Why must Abuelita, Esperanza's grandmother, be left behind?
  • What do Esperanza and her mother and their friends take with them on their journey?
  • What is the hardest part of the journey for Esperanza?
  • What food do they eat and where do they get their food?
  • How far do they travel and how many days does the trip take?
  • What would it be like traveling such a great distance by train?
  • Who are some of the other passengers they meet on the train?
  • How does Esperanza react to the strangers she meets?

When they have finished answering these questions and making their lists, assemble the entire class for an opportunity to compare their lists and to discuss Ramona's decision. Most students will very likely conclude that Ramona made the right decision, but if some conclude she should have stayed and married her husband's brother, Tío Luis, that will provide the basis for a better discussion. If none of the students favor Ramona's staying, be sure that their discussion fully acknowledges the numerous hardships of leaving home and of the journey itself, as well as the natural reluctance to face an uncertain future in a new country. The goal is to help students appreciate the difficulty of such a decision and to understand the hoped for rewards as well as the hardships. A good way to add depth to this discussion is to ask if anyone in the class has had to make such a journey or knows someone, perhaps in their own families, who have done so.

Activity 3. A Day in the Life of Farm Laborers

What would it be like to be a migrant farm worker in the 1930s? When students have nearly completed their reading of the novel, at least through the chapter titled "Los Esparagos" (asparaguses), they will be ready for the third activity in this lesson. One goal of this activity is to encourage students to appreciate the many hardships and difficulties that Esperanza encounters and eventually overcomes in her new home. But another related goal is to introduce some of the historical background that Pam Muñoz Ryan uses to add depth and detail to her story.

Once again, in preparation for this activity, you can go over the web resources in class or ask students to review some of them on their own using the EDSITEment Study Activity . The online resources for the PBS documentary " Surviving the Dustbowl " provides information about The Great Depression and the migration of the Okies as well as a timeline of related historical events. Oakland Museum of California, host of the EDSITEment-reviewed California Gold Rush site, also has resources and photos related to Mexican and Mexican American migrant laborers . The Library of Congress has a photo library of images from farm labor camps and migrant labor camps . Not all of these photos will be appropriate to the story of Esperanza, so you may want to select a few examples of families of migrant workers and photographs of farm labor camps for viewing by the class as part of the preparation for this activity.

The Library of Congress American Memory website also has audio recordings of interviews made in 1940 and 1941 at migrant work camps in California. An interview with Augustus Martinez and two with Jose Flores discuss work in the fields and life in the camps as well as labor issues and discrimination against Mexicans. Each interview lasts approximately eight to ten minutes.

After students have reviewed the web resources and finished reading a sufficient portion of the novel, divide the class once again into small work groups and ask each group to choose a subject for a short dramatic scene describing some activity from a day in the life of a farm laborer or a member of a farm laborer's family. These scenes should be based on their reading of Esperanza Rising as well as their background research. Some students may want to take the roles of union organizers who visit with the others and try to persuade them to join the union and strike. Others may describe a shopping trip at the Japanese grocery or preparing a meal after a day in the fields. While the class works on their dramatizations based on the novel, ask them to consider some of the following questions:

  • Where do the farm laborers keep their food?
  • What household appliances do they have available to them?
  • Where do they take a bath or go to the restroom?
  • What kinds of food do they have to eat?
  • Where do they sleep?
  • Where do they buy their food and clothing?
  • Where do the children play or go to school?
  • What is Valley Fever? Why were Esperanza and her mother especially vulnerable?

When they have completed their dramatic scenes, let the students share them with the assembled class. They can either read them or act them out. The goal is to get students to identify with the hard work and living conditions, but also with the camaraderie among the laborers and their families. Ask the students what they have learned about the difficulties of Esperanza's life in California and the ways she has had to adapt to her new role and her new home.

Activity 4. Taking an Inventory of the Novel

While the previous activities have been directed at the setting and historical context of Esperanza Rising , the goal of this activity is to focus student attention on the literary qualities of the novel as well as the larger themes and the lessons learned by Esperanza from her experiences. Once again it may be more productive to divide the class into small work groups. Ask each group to make a chart on which they list the parts of the story, the setting, the characters, themes, symbols, imagery, etc. Then ask them to create an outline of the plot of the story. Use the story worksheet in the EDSITEment Study Activity  for this activity. Students should be encouraged to begin by asking and answering some of these questions:

  • Who are the main characters in the novel?
  • Where does the story take place?
  • Can you identify any objects, like the rose bushes that Miguel and his father save from the fire, which act as symbols or seem to have some deeper meaning in the story?
  • What are the important actions in the story, when something important happens?
  • What lessons and meaning do you take away from your reading of the story?

When each group is finished, ask them to compare results with one another. It is likely that each group will see the story in slightly different ways, but as they compare their worksheets, they should begin to see how Pam Muñoz Ryan uses the various elements of the story to make some larger points about the importance of family and friendship and courage and strength of character. Some students may have difficulty identifying symbols and images. Try to get them to notice the way that the author uses the names of fruits and vegetables in the titles of the story's chapters. Ask them to identify all of the objects that seem to have special meaning for Esperanza or one of the other characters.

This activity is a good preliminary to the discussion questions and writing assignments in the assessment section of this lesson. If the class has completed reading the entire novel before beginning this lesson, this activity could be used as the first activity in preparation for the others.

Here are some discussion questions that can also be used as writing assignments:

  • Have each student construct a timeline of the changes that Esperanza experiences by the end of the novel. Ask them to describe the most important lesson or lessons that Esperanza learns from her experiences. How has Esperanza grown as a young woman from her experiences?
  • Have students write a letter home to Abuelita, Esperanza's grandmother, in which they imagine they are Esperanza describing what life is like for her and her mother in the United States. They should include as much news as they can, but try not to alarm their grandmother unnecessarily by writing only of bad news.
  • Have students compare Esperanza's experience with leaving her home in Mexico for the United States with the stories Abuelita tells her in the chapter titled "Los Higos" (figs) about leaving Spain to come to Mexico when she was a young girl. Does her grandmother's experience help to prepare her for her own? How does the story of the phoenix seem to fit with the life Esperanza experiences in California?
  • Have students compare the camp where the strikers are staying to the camp where Esperanza is living and the new camp being built for the Okies. What do the differences in the living conditions at these camps suggest about the differences among the social status of these different groups of laborers?

Although there is a Spanish language edition of this book, some teachers may also want to ask students reading the English language version to learn some of the Spanish words used in the story. As they read Esperanza Rising , ask students to make a list of all the Spanish words they encounter along with the English equivalents. Encourage students to look up the definitions in a Spanish-English dictionary . When they have finished their reading, ask them to compare their lists. If there are Spanish-speaking students in the class, ask them to comment on the Spanish words and discuss the similarities and differences between the Spanish and English equivalents that Pam Muñoz Ryan provides:

  • Campesino  is translated as field worker, the root of the word is campo , or field.
  • Vaqueros are cowboys, vaca is the Spanish word for cow.
  • Quinceañeras , which Pam Muñoz Ryan refers to as the "presentation party" held on a girl's fifteenth birthday derives from the Spanish quince años , literally "fifteen years."
  • There are many Spanish words in the novel, from the very common and familiar ones, such as gracias , thank you; de nada you're welcome, buena suerte , good luck; dulces , sweets; to more complex words, such as una palanca , a lever, meaning some kind of "connection" which Miguel says he would need to get a job on the railroad in Mexico.
  • Pam Muñoz Ryan also uses the Spanish names of various fruits and vegetables as chapter titles, to mark the progress of the story and the passing of time with the seasons of the harvests.

If there is time, especially if you team teach with someone in social studies, you may want to introduce the story " We didn't go to el Norte to gather flowers ," told by Don Miguel Gutiérrez in May, 1992, one of the oral histories collected by the Mexican Migration Project, a link on the EDSITEment-reviewed Latin American Network Information Center . The similarities and differences in this true story of a Mexican migrant worker and his family may help place Esperanza Rising in an even more contemporary context. This story is one of several told by recent immigrants in both Spanish and English.

Selected EDSITEment Websites

  • Surviving the Dustbowl

Great Depression

  • Okies (Mass Exodus from the Plains)
  • Las Mañanitas
  • Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever)
  • " We didn't go to el Norte to gather flowers "
  • Mexico from Empire to Revolution
  • Collins Online Dictionaries
  • National Geographic
  • Gold Rush! California's Untold Stories
  • Depression 1930s in California
  • Interviews with Jose Flores
  • Interview with August Martinez
  • Farm Labor Camps
  • Migrant Camps

Materials & Media

Esperanza rising: immigration worksheet, esperanza rising: story worksheet, related on edsitement, esperanza renace: aprendiendo a no temer el comenzar de nuevo, hispanic and latino heritage and history in the united states, spanish language learning resources, "sí, se puede": chávez, huerta, and the ufw.

EL Education Curriculum

You are here.

  • ELA G5:M1:U2

Writing to Inform: Threats to Human Rights in Esperanza Rising

In this unit.

  • Guiding Questions and Big Ideas

The Four Ts

Content connections.

  • Habits of Character


Accountable independent reading, supporting english language learners.

  • Texts and Resources to Buy

Preparation and Materials

  • Technology and Media

Additional Language and Literacy Block

  • Optional Activities

You are here:

  • ELA Grade 5

Like what you see?

Order printed materials, teacher guides and more.

How to order

Help us improve!

Tell us how the curriculum is working in your classroom and send us corrections or suggestions for improving it.

Leave feedback

In this unit, students continue to read Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan to make connections to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They also compare and contrast characters' reactions to situations and events in which their human rights have been threatened and interpret metaphors woven throughout the story to determine how they convey themes. For the mid-unit assessment, students independently interpret a metaphor that is woven throughout the novel and determine a theme that it conveys. They also analyze and compare the reactions of two characters to an event in Esperanza Rising .

In the second half of the unit, students choose an event in the novel to write a literary essay that compares and contrasts the reactions of two characters. Students begin by writing a two-voice poem with a partner to really get inside the minds of the characters during that event. They then follow the Painted Essay structure, writing their literary essay one part at a time after analyzing a model. For the end of unit assessment, students revise their literary essay for linking words and phrases, specifically those that signal contrast.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • What are human rights, and how can they be threatened?
  • Human rights belong to everyone, but they can look different to different people in different places.
  • We can better understand how human rights can be threatened by reading about the experiences of fictional characters in stories.
  • We can raise awareness of human rights issues by writing about the issues fictional characters face.
  • Topic: Human rights
  • Task: Students reread a literary text, and answer selected response questions and write a paragraph about it (mid-unit assessment). Students revise a literary essay comparing and contrasting character reactions to events that threaten their human rights in Esperanza Rising (end of unit assessment).
  • Targets (standards explicitly taught and assessed): RL.5.1, RL.5.2, RL.5.3, RL.5.10, W.5.2c, W.5.2d, W.5.5, W.5.6, W.5.9a, W.5.10, L.5.2d, L.5.5a, and L.5.6 . 
  • Text: Esperanza Rising and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Each unit in the 3-5 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the literacy block of the school day. However, the module intentionally incorporates social studies content that many teachers may be teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below. 

College, Career, and Civic Life C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards:

  • D2.Civ.3.3-5: Examine the origins and purposes of rules, laws, and key U.S. constitutional provisions.
  • D2.Civ.4.3-5: Explain how groups of people make rules to create responsibilities and protect freedoms.
  • D2.Civ.7.3-5: Apply civic virtues and democratic principles in school settings.
  • D2.Civ.10.3-5: Identify the beliefs, experiences, perspectives, and values that underlie their own and others' points of view about civic issues.
  • D2.Geo.2.3-5: Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their environmental characteristics.
  • D2.His.2.3-5: Compare life in specific historical time periods to life today.
  • D2.His.4.3-5: Explain why individuals and groups during the same historical period differed in their perspectives.
  • D2.His.14.3-5: Explain probable causes and effects of events and developments.
  • D3.4.3-5: Use evidence to develop claims in response to compelling questions.
  • D4.6.3-5: Draw on disciplinary concepts to explain the challenges people have faced and opportunities they have created, in addressing local, regional, and global problems at various times and places.

Habits of Character/Social-Emotional Learning Focus

Central to EL Education's curriculum is a focus on "habits of character" and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service). 

In this unit, students work to become effective learners . Throughout Unit 2, students practice perseverance and collaboration as they work in pairs to write a literary essay. They practice initiative and responsibility as they revise their essays using peer feedback.

The following student learning targets are a focus for this unit. Please refer to Teaching Notes in the lessons:

  • I work to become an effective learner:
  • I take initiative.
  • I take responsibility.
  • I persevere.
  • I collaborate.

Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

View the unit-at-a-glance chart

The ability to read and comprehend texts is the heart of literacy instruction. Comprehension is taught, reinforced, and assessed across both components of this curriculum: module lessons and the Additional Language and Literacy Block. Refer to the 5M1 Module Overview for additional information.

In this unit, students continue to read research texts independently for homework, collect new academic and domain-specific vocabulary, and engage in frequent research reading shares during the module lessons for accountability.

The Meeting Students' Needs column in each lesson contains support for both ELLs and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and some supports can serve a wide range of student needs. However, ELLs have unique needs that cannot always be met with UDL support. According to federal guidelines, ELLs must be given access to the curriculum with appropriate supports, such as those that are specifically identified as "For ELLs" in the Meeting Students' Needs column.

  • Prioritizing lessons for classrooms with many ELLs: To prepare for the Unit 2 assessments, consider prioritizing and expanding instruction in Lessons 1-4, which establish the pattern of reading and analyzing character reactions to events in Esperanza Rising , and interpreting metaphors and answering questions about their meaning. Also prioritize the analysis of essay structure using the color-coding system and the Language Dive in Lessons 12-15. If necessary, consider condensing instruction in Lessons 6-9, which continue the patterns established in previous lessons, but do not introduce as many new concepts.
  • Language Dives: ELLs can participate in an optional Language Dive in Lesson 12. This Language Dives is designed to help students notice and apply the English subject-predicate structure using the subordinating conjunction while. Most lessons also offer optional Mini Language Dives for ELLs. Language Dives are guided conversations about the meaning of a sentence from the central texts, models, or learning targets. The conversation invites students to unpack complex syntax, or "academic phrases," as a necessary component of building both literacy and habits of mind. Students then apply their understanding of language structure as they work toward the assessments and performance task. All Language Dives follow a Deconstruct-Reconstruct-Practice routine, in which students discuss and play with the meaning and purpose of the sentence and each chunk of the sentence; put the chunks back together into the original order and any possible variations; and practice using the chunks in their own speaking and writing. To maximize language practice and accommodate time, consider dividing or reviewing each Language Dive over multiple lessons. A consistent Language Dive routine is critical in helping all students learn how to decipher complex sentences and write their own. In addition, Language Dive conversations can hasten overall English language development for ELLs. Avoid using the Language Dive Guide to lecture about grammar; the Guide is designed to prompt students as they grapple with the meaning and purpose of the chunks and the sentence. Consider providing students with a Language Dive log inside a folder to track Language Dive sentences and structures and collate Language Dive note-catchers. Assure students that this log will not be graded; however, consider inviting students to use their log and note-catchers to gauge the progress of their speaking and writing skills. For more information on Language Dives and supporting English language learners, see the Tools page . 
  • Diversity and inclusion: Investigate the languages, routines, practices, rituals, beliefs, norms, and experiences that are important to ELLs and their families. An ideal context for inclusiveness emerges as students are invited to add their feelings and experience in regards to Esperanza Rising and the UDHR. Create a safe space for students to express their experiences and feelings, in both their home language and English, about the sensitive issues embedded in the texts, knowing that these discussions may help create equity or unearth trauma or both. Consider integrating this background into the classroom as students discuss Esperanza's immigrant experience, culture, history, and language in E speranza Rising , and as students read about human rights in the UDHR. Consult with a guidance counselor, school social worker, or ESL teacher to further investigate diversity and inclusion.
  • Goal 1 Conversation Cues: Continue to encourage productive and equitable conversation with Conversation Cues, which are questions teachers can ask students to help achieve four goals: (Goal 1) encourage all students to talk and be understood; (Goal 2) listen carefully to one another and seek to understand; (Goal 3) deepen thinking; and (Goal 4) think with others to expand the conversation (adapted from Michaels, Sarah and O'Connor, Cathy. Talk Science Primer . Cambridge, MA: TERC, 2012. Based on Chapin, S., O'Connor, C., and Anderson, N. [2009]. Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn , Grades K-6. Second Edition. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications). Refer to the Tools page  for the complete set of cues. Goal 1 Conversation Cues are introduced in Unit 1, Lesson 3. Heightened language processing and development is a primary potential benefit for ELLs.
  • Strategic grouping: As students are invited to pair up to analyze characters' reactions to events in Esperanza Rising , to make connections between the events and the UDHR, and interpret metaphors and theme, seriously consider grouping ELLs with partners who have greater language proficiency. The conversations that happen as a result of such strategic grouping will greatly serve the language development of both partners. Be aware that partnering with, looking at, talking with, or touching the opposite gender may be uncomfortable and inappropriate for some students. In addition, some students may believe it is inappropriate to speak with other students at all during class. Let them know that, in the United States, speaking with a peer of either gender when the teacher gives the signal is appropriate, and it is one way that students can become independent learners and develop their content knowledge and language ability. At the same time, tell them you respect their needs, and if necessary, seek alternative arrangements for students according to their cultural traditions. 
  • Metaphor and theme: Students will analyze metaphors in Esperanza Rising and explore how metaphors that run throughout the story contribute to themes in the book. Support student understanding of the concept of metaphors by inviting students to share examples of metaphors and their meanings in their home languages, and consider working closely with students who need additional support in understanding the figurative language and answering questions about metaphors.
  • Essay organization: Students will receive explicit instruction in how to craft an informational essay: introductory paragraph, focus statement with points 1 and 2, Proof Paragraphs 1 and 2 with a transition, and concluding paragraph. Students will use the Painted Essay format. Organization may be difficult to grasp for some students who may struggle to comprehend the language itself. Use color-coding and manipulatives inspired by the Painted Essay routines, such as sentence strips, to support this skill. Also, this essay structure may be different from the text structure students may be familiar with in their home languages. Compare and contrast home language text structure whenever possible. As students work on writing complete sentences, color-code sentences to support students' understanding of subject-predicate sentence structure.
  • Celebration: Celebrate the courage, enthusiasm, diversity, and bilingual assets that ELLs bring to the classroom.

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

See full list of texts, including recommended texts

  • Prepare two individuals (e.g., students, other teachers, adult guests, etc.) to perform the model two-voice poem in Lesson 11. This will require them to read parts both independently and in unison.
  • Prepare materials for the Painted Essay lesson plan in Lesson 12:
  • Paintbrushes (one per student)
  • Read, yellow, blue, and green watercolor paint (one set per pair)
  • Cups of water (one per pair)
  • Painting an Essay lesson plan (for teacher reference) 
  • Red, yellow, blue, and green colored pencils (one set; for teacher modeling)
  • Prepare technology for students to type their final literary essays in Lesson 16. 
  • The following materials are introduced in this unit and referenced both throughout the module and the school year:
  • Peer Critique Protocol anchor chart
  • The Painted Essay template
  • Painting an Essay lesson plan
  • Working to Become Effective Learners anchor chart
  • Parts of Speech anchor chart
  • Linking Words and Phrases handout

Technology and Multimedia

  • Google Docs  - Complete note-catchers: Students complete their note-catchers, write their essays and monologues, and create their programs in Google Docs.
  • Speech to Text (Many newer devices already have this capability)- To create writing by speaking: Students complete their note-catchers and create written work by speaking rather than writing or typing.
  • Seesaw  - Create student learning portfolios to share with other students, families: Video/audio record students reading aloud their monologues to share with families and other students.
  • The Mexican Revolution  - Additional reading and research: Students read more about the Mexican Revolution with adult support. 
  • Knight, Alan. "The Mexican Revolution." History Today May 1980: n. pag. History Today. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.
  • The Mexican Revolution: November 20th, 1910  - Additional reading and research: Students read more about the Mexican Revolution with adult support.
  • "The Mexican Revolution: November 20th, 1910." EDSITEment. National Endowment for the Humanities, n.d. Web. 3 June 2016.
  • Mexican Revolution  - Additional reading and research: Students read more about the Mexican Revolution with adult support.
  • "Mexican Revolution." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.
  • Immigration Past and Present  - Additional reading and research: Students read more about immigration.
  • "Immigration Past and Present." Accessed June 3, 2016.
  • Teach Unicef  - Additional reading and research: Students read about current events that are threats to human rights.
  • "Teach Unicef." Unicef. Web. Accessed Jun 3, 2016.
  • Human Rights Education  - Additional reading and research: Students read about current events that are threats to human rights.
  • "Human Rights Education." Amnesty International. Web. Accessed Jun 3, 2016.
  • Human Rights Watch  - Additional reading and research: Students read about current events that are threats to human rights.
  • Human Rights Watch. Web. Accessed Jun 3, 2016.

The Additional Language and Literacy (ALL) Block is 1 hour of instruction per day. It is designed to work in concert with and in addition to the 1-hour Grades 3-5 ELA "module lessons." Taken together, these 2 hours of instruction comprehensively address all the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.

The ALL Block has five components: Additional Work with Complex Text; Reading and Speaking Fluency/GUM (Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics); Writing Practice; Word Study and Vocabulary; and Independent Reading.

The ALL Block has three 2-week units which parallel to the three units of the module.

ELA G5:M1:U2:L1

Analyzing character reactions: esperanza rising: “las cebollas”, ela g5:m1:u2:l2, metaphors in esperanza rising: “las almendras”, ela g5:m1:u2:l3, analyzing character reactions: esperanza rising: “las ciruelas”, ela g5:m1:u2:l4, metaphors in esperanza rising: “las papas”, ela g5:m1:u2:l5, making connections: “los aguacates” and article 2 of the udhr, ela g5:m1:u2:l6, analyzing character reactions: esperanza rising: “los espárragos”, ela g5:m1:u2:l7, analyzing character reactions: esperanza rising: “los duraznos”, ela g5:m1:u2:l8, writing a character reaction paragraph: esperanza rising: “los duraznos”, ela g5:m1:u2:l9, metaphors in esperanza rising: “las uvas”, ela g5:m1:u2:l10, mid-unit 2 assessment: interpreting metaphors and analyzing character reactions, ela g5:m1:u2:l11, character reactions in esperanza rising: writing a two-voice poem, ela g5:m1:u2:l12, writing a literary essay: analyzing a model, ela g5:m1:u2:l13, writing a literary essay: introduction, ela g5:m1:u2:l14, writing a literary essay: proof paragraphs, ela g5:m1:u2:l15, writing a literary essay: conclusion, ela g5:m1:u2:l16, end of unit 2 assessment: revising a literary essay, optional: community, experts, fieldwork, service, and extensions.

  • If students have families with experience with some of the issues described in Esperanza Rising , consider inviting them in to speak to students about their experiences.
  • If students come from Spanish-speaking families, consider inviting adults to come in to share some words with students in Spanish.
  • If you have a number of English language learners speaking the same native language, invite family members to come into the classroom to talk with ELLs in their native language about human rights.
  • If students have families with experience of some of the current threats to human rights that students will read about in research in Lesson 9, consider inviting them in to speak to students about their experiences.
  • Invite experts on local human rights issues or immigration in your area to come in to talk to the students about the work that they do and about the local population.
  • Have experts on human rights or immigration come in to talk with the students about the work that they do.
  • Have experts on dramas and plays come in to talk with students about writing and performing monologues.
  • Take students to exhibitions about immigration or about Mexican history or culture.
  • Take students to performances of monologues.
  • Reach out to local immigration charities to find out if students can participate in any charity events or work or if they can raise funds for a specific cause.
  • Identify a local threat to human rights that students could learn more about and take action on.


  • Encourage students to read other articles of the complete version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Encourage students to consider other ways to raise awareness about human rights issues.

Copyright © 2013-2024 by EL Education, New York, NY.

Get updates about our new K-5 curriculum as new materials and tools debut.

Help us improve our curriculum..

Tell us what’s going well, share your concerns and feedback.

Terms of use . To learn more about EL Education, visit

esperanza rising theme essay

Esperanza Rising

Pam muñoz ryan, ask litcharts ai: the answer to your questions, esperanza ortega, ramona ortega / mama, sixto ortega / papa.

Esperanza Rising PDF

Esperanza Rising

By pam muñoz ryan, esperanza rising summary and analysis of chapter 5: los melones (cantaloupes).

After several days, the train ride comes to an end. Esperanza , Hortensia , Alfonso , Miguel , and Mama arrive at the Mexican-American border. Esperanza and Mama get in line at the immigration office. Esperanza notices that the first class passengers get preference and speed through the process. Esperanza is nervous when she sees that some people are getting rejected from the border, but she and Mama pass through immigration without any complications. They board another train to the United States. Hortensia, Alfonso, and Miguel board at the last minute.

Mama wakes Esperanza up when they arrive in Los Angeles, where Alfonso’s brother and his family are waiting for them. Esperanza meets the whole family: Alfonso’s brother Juan , his wife Josefina , their twin babies, Lupe and Pepe, and their daughter Isabel , who is about the same age as Esperanza. Isabel immediately questions Esperanza about her family's wealth in Mexico, which catches Esperanza off guard. She assumes that Miguel has told his cousin that Esperanza is a spoiled brat.

Everyone loads into Juan’s beat up truck; the adults sit in the cab and the children climb into the flatbed. Isabel tells them about the past year. The family has been living in a tent and working to afford their current residence on a larger estate. Now, Isabel hopes to start attending school so that she can learn English. Esperanza explains that she is quite well-educated and plans to return to school once Abuelita arrives.

When they stop for lunch, Esperanza wanders off on her own. As she looks out at the valleys below, she thinks about how Papa taught her to feel connected with the land. Esperanza tries to hear the heartbeat of the earth but she cannot, which frustrates her. In a fit of tears, Esperanza falls back onto the ground and suddenly feels as if she is floating above it without any anchor. Esperanza feels like she is floating higher - but she is uncertain about whether or not she enjoys the sensation of being unmoored. Miguel brings her back to reality by holding her hand and confessing that he, too, misses Papa.

They keep driving until the mountains disappear and all Esperanza can see are fields full of workers. Juan stops so that a girl, Marta , can get into the car. Marta is about Miguel’s age and has a sharp tongue. Upon learning that Esperanza was once wealthy, Marta begins to taunt her. Esperanza tries to explain that her father was a kind man and Isabel explains that Esperanza lost everything in a fire, but Marta does not stop ridiculing the new arrival.

Marta has become jaded after suffering her own losses and living in the San Joaquin Valley for many years. She explains the reality of the Mexican workers' situation. Migrant workers are separated by place of origin (Mexico, Japan, Oklahoma) so that there is no inter-communication between ethnic groups. Marta explains that landowners do this to keep the workers from uniting in an uprising against their masters.

Esperanza is distressed after hearing Marta's revelations. She is also jealous that Miguel keeps speaking to Marta after the way she has spoken about Esperanza's father. At this point, Esperanza is uncertain about her new life but she is certain that she does not like Marta.

Chapter 5 is full of confrontation and uncertainty. Esperanza feels as though she is losing her connection to Papa and the land, and later, Marta’s harsh words feel like an unnecessary attack. Esperanza realizes that her past social standing actually makes people dislike her in her new life. As a result of this difficult realization, Esperanza can finally start to understand the world outside her sheltered past at el Rancho de las Rosas.

Isabel serves as a foil to Esperanza. She constantly prods Esperanza about her family’s wealth to the point where Esperanza is embarrassed. She is not used to speaking about her family's money. However, Esperanza's interactions with Isabel and Marta force Esperanza to realize that in her new circumstances, her past wealth is more of a hindrance than a boon. She feels different from those around her, and not in a way that makes her feel confident.

Marta acts as a catalyst in changing the way that Esperanza views her past life. Marta shines light on the harsh reality that even though Papa was a kind, decent man, he was defined by his wealth. Esperanza is both shocked and hurt by Marta’s outrage; she feels that she is not deserving of Marta’s anger because she did not do anything wrong. In her interactions with Marta over the course of the novel, Esperanza learns to develop her own perspective instead of taking all her old beliefs for granted.

Esperanza’s reaction to Marta’s outburst is a microcosmic representation of the class divide on the farm. Marta comes from a poor background. She has always had to fight for survival and knows that if she wants something to change, she has to do it herself. She has seen injustice firsthand, which is why she lashes out against the wealthy and speaks openly about the difficulties of life in the San Joaquin Valley. In contrast, Esperanza keeps her feelings to herself and lets others speak up in her defense. She has always had someone else to protect her - Papa, Mama, or Miguel. However, Esperanza does develop one strong opinion of her own - she dislikes Marta.

Esperanza reaches an emotional climax towards the middle of the chapter. While she is alone, she starts remembering her father and tries to feel a connection to him again. She describes her heart as “untethered” when she is unable to hear the heartbeat of the land. Esperanza's fantasy of floating above the ground is representative of the fact that her entire life has been uprooted. She has lost her father, her home, and everything she has ever known. She no longer has anything to keep her grounded.

Miguel - not Mama - brings Esperanza out of her daydream. When Esperanza feels like she is floating away, Miguel is there to bring her back to Earth. In this chapter, it becomes clear that their relationship is developing into something more than friendship. They hold hands during the lunch break and Esperanza feels jealous when Miguel talks to Marta. While Esperanza and Miguel have always been close, external forces (like their class differences) created a rift between them. However, in America, Esperanza and Miguel are social equals and therefore free to explore their true feelings without any reprimand from society.

GradeSaver will pay $15 for your literature essays

Esperanza Rising Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Esperanza Rising is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

What happened to Esperanza's hands? What did Hortensia do to make them better?

Due to all of the work she has been doing, Esperanzas's hands have become rough and calloused. Hortensia makes an avocado salve to soothe her injuries, but Esperanza knows that no remedy will ever restore her hands to their former softness.

I'm sorry, did you have a question regarding Esperanza rising?

What are some things the strikers do to try to accomplish their mission? Do you agree or disagree with their methods? Explain.

There are people holding signs all over the camp, urging everyone else to join the strike. Some throw rocks and hurl insults at the workers going in. I can understand their frustrations at the bad working conditions and low pay. It seems like a...

Study Guide for Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Rising study guide contains a biography of Pam Muñoz Ryan, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Esperanza Rising
  • Esperanza Rising Summary
  • Esperanza Rising Video
  • Character List

Lesson Plan for Esperanza Rising

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to Esperanza Rising
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • Esperanza Rising Bibliography

Wikipedia Entries for Esperanza Rising

  • Introduction
  • Plot synopsis
  • Main characters and personalities
  • Background information
  • Critical reception

esperanza rising theme essay


Supported by

There’s a New Covid Variant. What Will That Mean for Spring and Summer?

Experts are closely watching KP.2, now the leading variant.

  • Share full article

A man wearing a mask coughs into his hand on a subway train.

By Dani Blum

For most of this year, the JN.1 variant of the coronavirus accounted for an overwhelming majority of Covid cases . But now, an offshoot variant called KP.2 is taking off. The variant, which made up just one percent of cases in the United States in mid-March, now makes up over a quarter.

KP.2 belongs to a subset of Covid variants that scientists have cheekily nicknamed “FLiRT,” drawn from the letters in the names of their mutations. They are descendants of JN.1, and KP.2 is “very, very close” to JN.1, said Dr. David Ho, a virologist at Columbia University. But Dr. Ho has conducted early lab tests in cells that suggest that slight differences in KP.2’s spike protein might make it better at evading our immune defenses and slightly more infectious than JN.1.

While cases currently don’t appear to be on the rise, researchers and physicians are closely watching whether the variant will drive a summer surge.

“I don’t think anybody’s expecting things to change abruptly, necessarily,” said Dr. Marc Sala, co-director of the Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive Covid-19 Center in Chicago. But KP.2 will most likely “be our new norm,’” he said. Here’s what to know.

The current spread of Covid

Experts said it would take several weeks to see whether KP.2 might lead to a rise in Covid cases, and noted that we have only a limited understanding of how the virus is spreading. Since the public health emergency ended , there is less robust data available on cases, and doctors said fewer people were using Covid tests.

But what we do know is reassuring: Despite the shift in variants, data from the C.D.C. suggests there are only “minimal ” levels of the virus circulating in wastewater nationally, and emergency department visits and hospitalizations fell between early March and late April.

“I don’t want to say that we already know everything about KP.2,” said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, the chief of research and development at the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Healthcare System. “But at this time, I’m not seeing any major indications of anything ominous.”

Protection from vaccines and past infections

Experts said that even if you had JN.1, you may still get reinfected with KP.2 — particularly if it’s been several months or longer since your last bout of Covid.

KP.2 could infect even people who got the most updated vaccine, Dr. Ho said, since that shot targets XBB.1.5, a variant that is notably different from JN.1 and its descendants. An early version of a paper released in April by researchers in Japan suggested that KP.2 might be more adept than JN.1 at infecting people who received the most recent Covid vaccine. (The research has not yet been peer-reviewed or published.) A spokesperson for the C.D.C. said the agency was continuing to monitor how vaccines perform against KP.2.

Still, the shot does provide some protection, especially against severe disease, doctors said, as do previous infections. At this point, there isn’t reason to believe that KP.2 would cause more severe illness than other strains, the C.D.C. spokesperson said. But people who are 65 and older, pregnant or immunocompromised remain at higher risk of serious complications from Covid.

Those groups, in particular, may want to get the updated vaccine if they haven’t yet, said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. The C.D.C. has recommended t hat people 65 and older who already received one dose of the updated vaccine get an additional shot at least four months later.

“Even though it’s the lowest level of deaths and hospitalizations we’ve seen, I’m still taking care of sick people with Covid,” he said. “And they all have one unifying theme, which is that they’re older and they didn’t get the latest shot.”

The latest on symptoms and long Covid

Doctors said that the symptoms of both KP.2 and JN.1 — which now makes up around 16 percent of cases — are most likely similar to those seen with other variants . These include sore throat, runny nose, coughing, head and body aches, fever, congestion, fatigue and in severe cases, shortness of breath. Fewer people lose their sense of taste and smell now than did at the start of the pandemic, but some people will still experience those symptoms.

Dr. Chin-Hong said that patients were often surprised that diarrhea, nausea and vomiting could be Covid symptoms as well, and that they sometimes confused those issues as signs that they had norovirus .

For many people who’ve already had Covid, a reinfection is often as mild or milder than their first case. While new cases of long Covid are less common now than they were at the start of the pandemic, repeat infections do raise the risk of developing long Covid, said Fikadu Tafesse, a virologist at Oregon Health & Science University. But researchers are still trying to determine by how much — one of many issues scientists are trying to untangle as the pandemic continues to evolve.

“That’s the nature of the virus,” Dr. Tafesse said. “It keeps mutating.”

Dani Blum is a health reporter for The Times. More about Dani Blum


  1. Esperanza Rising Themes

    Esperanza Ortega is a pampered, spoiled only child whose servants teasingly call her la reina —the queen. When her father, a wealthy rancher, dies after being attacked by bandits outside their family's ranch in Aguascalientes, Mexico, Esperanza, her mother Ramona, and her Abuelita (grandmother) lose everything. Plunged into poverty, Esperanza must confront—and overcome—her ...

  2. Esperanza Rising Themes

    Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of "Esperanza Rising" by Pam Muñoz Ryan. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student ...

  3. Esperanza Rising Summary

    Esperanza Rising study guide contains a biography of Pam Muñoz Ryan, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. Best summary PDF, themes, and quotes.

  4. Esperanza Rising Themes

    Discussion of themes and motifs in Pam Muñoz Ryan's Esperanza Rising. eNotes critical analyses help you gain a deeper understanding of Esperanza Rising so you can excel on your essay or test.

  5. Esperanza Rising Study Guide

    The events of Esperanza Rising straddle two major historical moments of the 20th century, the first being the late years and fallout of the Mexican Revolution, which broke out in 1910 and introduced a period of rebellion, civil war, and struggle between the wealthy landowners and the impoverished masses of Mexico. Esperanza's wealthy rancher father's death in an attack by "bandits ...

  6. Esperanza Rising Essay Topics

    Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of "Esperanza Rising" by Pam Muñoz Ryan. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student ...

  7. Esperanza Rising Themes

    Esperanza Rising chronicles one year in Esperanza 's life. Over the course of the story, the young teenager experiences many challenges. She loses her father, her home, and everything she has ever known. However, following the example of her mother and grandmother, Esperanza is able to adapt to and succeed in the changing world around her.

  8. Esperanza Rising Summary and Study Guide

    Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of "Esperanza Rising" by Pam Muñoz Ryan. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student ...

  9. Esperanza Rising Essay Questions

    Esperanza Rising Essay Questions. 1. Describe how Esperanza matures and evolves over the course of the novel. Esperanza grows and matures in several ways. At the beginning of the novel, she is a wealthy girl without a trouble in the world and is largely ignorant to the problems of people around her. However, her father's death starts a series ...

  10. 18 Discussion and Writing Prompts to Help Teach Esperanza Rising

    18. Read the last sentence of the novel and explain how it relates to the book's themes. After reading, invite your students to imagine being taken out of their life right now and put in a work camp like Esperanza's. Encourage your students to reflect on how they would react and how they would overcome the harsh realities of their new life ...

  11. Esperanza Rising

    Esperanza Rising is a young adult historical fiction novel written by Mexican-American author Pam Muñoz Ryan and released by Scholastic Press on 27 March 2000. ... Esperanza Rising coincides with other works of its kind to portraying themes of the United States' simultaneous discrimination against and economic reliance on immigrants.

  12. Esperanza Rising : Learning Not to Be Afraid to Start Over

    Esperanza Rising was inspired by the stories author Pam Muñoz Ryan was told as a child by her grandmother, Esperanza Ortega Muñoz.Set in the early 1930s, twenty years after the Mexican Revolution and during the Great Depression, Esperanza Rising tells the story of a young Mexican girl's courage and resourcefulness when at the age of thirteen she finds herself living in a strange new world.

  13. Esperanza Rising Study Guide

    Esperanza Rising was published in 2000. It is the fictional story of Esperanza Ortega, a privileged girl growing up in Mexico on her family's farm. However, her life is shattered when her father is murdered. Esperanza must leave behind her family's wealth and social status when she and her mother move to the United States in search of a ...

  14. Writing to Inform: Threats to Human Rights in Esperanza Rising

    In this unit, students continue to read Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan to make connections to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They also compare and contrast characters' reactions to situations and events in which their human rights have been threatened and interpret metaphors woven throughout the story to determine how they convey themes.

  15. Esperanza Rising Essay

    This historical fiction novel Esperanza Rising written by Pam Munoz Ryan expresses the theme of change throughout the story in Esperanza's life. This story takes place first in Aquascalientes where Esperanza has a wealthy landowner and always believed she was going to wear beautiful dresses and have people serving her.

  16. PDF Final Essay

    One of the traits that Esperanza has developed. This is the topic sentence. A quote to prove who she is. An explanation of the quote. What it means, how it proves that Esperanza is who she is now, how it shows that Esperanza has changed, etcetera. Conclusion This is your last paragraph.

  17. Esperanza Rising Character Analysis

    Lupe and Pepe. Juan and Josefina 's twin one-year-old babies. When Isabel goes off to school, Esperanza finds herself in charge of the children, and looking after them helps her establish a sense of purpose on the farm—and teaches her a lot about taking care of others.

  18. PDF Grade 5 Literature Mini-Assessment Excerpt from Esperanza Rising by Pam

    1 . The questions align to the following standards: RL.5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. RL.5.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem

  19. Opinion

    Opinion Writer. At a May 1 rally in Waukesha, Wis., Donald Trump said that when he was president "we had no inflation," and that now "we have record horrible inflation" that is "getting ...

  20. Esperanza Rising

    Analysis: Chapter 5 is full of confrontation and uncertainty. Esperanza feels as though she is losing her connection to Papa and the land, and later, Marta's harsh words feel like an unnecessary attack. Esperanza realizes that her past social standing actually makes people dislike her in her new life.

  21. What to Know About New Covid Variants, 'FLiRT': Symptoms, Vaccines and

    The latest on symptoms and long Covid. Doctors said that the symptoms of both KP.2 and JN.1 — which now makes up around 16 percent of cases — are most likely similar to those seen with other ...

  22. Understand South Korea, a success story with a dark side

    Thomas Dunne Books; 480 pages; $28.99. Ebury Publishing; £19.99. South Korea's history is a dramatic one. It began with the Korean nation's birth 5,000 years ago; its founder was the issue of ...