Esperanza Rising Study Guide

Character Analysis

Esperanza- Esperanza is a thirteen-year-old girl who has spent her entire life on her parent’s beautiful ranch in Mexico. Esperanza has never wanted for anything; she has lived as a queen. Everything changes for Esperanza on the eve of her birthday when her father is killed. As the plot’s protagonist, Esperanza’s major conflict arises following her father’s death when she and her mother must flee Mexico because of her cruel uncles. Papa’s brothers burn down the ranch and tell Mama that unless she marries Tío Marco, things will be very difficult for them. However, Mama knows that if she does marry Tío Marco, Esperanza will be sent away to boarding school. Mama, Esperanza, and the family that worked for them flee to California.

In California Esperanza begrudgingly adapts to life as a farm hand. She must learn to do things she never had to in Mexico. When Mama gets sick, Esperanza rises to the occasion and works to pay Mama’s medical bills and save money so Abuelita can come to California. The climax of the novel occurs when Miguel brings Abuelita to California. Esperanza knows that everything will be all right and her family is free of the brothers’ power. Esperanza learns that in becoming poor she has become rich.


Miguel- Miguel’s parents worked for Esperanza’s parents on their ranch in Mexico. Miguel represents the other side of Mexican society—those who are poor and cannot rise above their circumstances. Although Esperanza’s family is kind and generous to Miguel’s family, he still feels oppressed. Miguel loves America because he believes that with hard work anyone can become rich, or at least move out of poverty. It is Miguel who finally helps Esperanza overcome her conflict. Miguel risks himself in bringing Abuelita to California.

Plot Structure Analysis

Exposition- The exposition of a plot is the place where the reader is introduced to the main characters and any important information necessary to understand what is currently happening. In this book, the exposition occurs in the second chapter where we learn about Esperanza, her family, her servants, and her friends. In this chapter we are also introduced to the beginning of Esperanza’s conflict—her father’s death.

Rising Action- Rising action is the action that will lead to the climax (or the major turning point in the plot). In this novel the rising action is everything that happens before Abuelita comes to California. This includes all of the turning points that occur in Mexico and California, such as when the ranch is burned down, as well as Mama’s illness and the immigration sweep. During the rising action Esperanza learns that she has become richer in becoming poorer. Esperanza rises above her hardships.

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

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

Cite this page:

Lahey, Laurie. "TheBestNotes on Esperanza Rising". TheBestNotes.com. . 09 May 2017
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