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By the new year, Esperanza's routine already seems old. She works during the week, helps Hortensia with dinner in the afternoons, and helps Josefina with the babies and Isabel with her homework in the evenings. And, of course, she goes to see Mama in the hospital on the weekends.
Every other week, Esperanza buys a money order with her savings. She collects the money orders in the valise she brought with her from Mexico.
If she keeps working, she should have enough money for Abuelita's travel soon enough. But she still doesn't know how she's going to get the money to Abuelita.
Right now, Esperanza is working tying grape vines. It doesn't sound like a lot of fun. Hortensia makes a paste out of avocados and glycerine to soothe Esperanza's cut and swollen hands. Having the green goo on her hands reminds Esperanza that her Mama used to sit like that, after a long day of gardening.
Have we mentioned that Esperanza misses her mom?
Esperanza knows it won't matter how many times she soaks her hands in avocado paste. They will always look like the hands of a poor field worker.
The doctor tells Esperanza and Miguel that Mama has pneumonia. After today, Esperanza won't be able to visit her for an entire month.
Esperanza says goodbye, but before she leaves, she does Mama's hair in the style she used to wear in Aguascalientes.
Hortensia tries to cheer Esperanza up by sending her out to do the shopping with Miguel one spring Saturday. Everyone is worried about Esperanza. (We are, too.)
Hortensia tells Esperanza to be sure to go to Mr. Yakota's market, even though it's not the closest one. Miguel explains that it's because Mr. Yakota treats his Mexican customers with respect.
Some Americans are prejudiced against Mexicans and treat them as though they're all uneducated, dirty, and poor.
Miguel points out that, with an elementary school education, Esperanza is better educated than many American children. But people in the U.S. don't stop to consider that.
Mr. Yakota is not only a nice man, he's also pretty smart. By treating everyone, no matter their race, with respect, he attracts a lot of customers who feel uncomfortable shopping elsewhere.
Esperanza doesn't have much contact with people outside of the camp, but she has heard some stories about how Mexicans are treated in town. They have to go to separate schools and sit in separate sections of the movie theaters.
Come to think of it, that's one nice thing about living in the company camp. Everybody goes to the same school.
Mr. Yakota's store is full of ingredients for Japanese cooking, but it has plenty of Mexican products, too.
Esperanza buys the things she needs, including a money order for Abuelita's trip, and a tiny piñata that's shaped like a donkey. Good purchase, E.
Miguel asks Esperanza about the money orders, and she explains to him that she's saving them in her valise until she has enough to pay for Abuelita's trip.
The piñata is for Mama. Esperanza fills it with candies.
On the ride home, Esperanza sees Marta walking hand in hand with her mother. Miguel suggests that they give them a ride, and Esperanza reluctantly agrees. Marta and Esperanza aren't exactly besties, if you remember.
Marta and her mom have been kicked out of the migrant workers' camp because they were striking. Now they're on their way to the strikers' camp.
The strikers' camp is protected by barbed wire and guards. It's also much shabbier than the camp where Esperanza lives. There are only ten toilet stalls for hundreds of people. People sleep in tents, under burlap bags, or in their cars.
A family of workers approaches them. The father says they have been kicked out of their camp because they were striking and that they haven't eaten in two days.
Esperanza fills the man's hat with dried beans, and gives the piñata full of candy to the children.
Marta and her mother are impressed with Esperanza's kindness. Is Esperanza starting to sympathize with the strikers?
Marta lets Esperanza and Miguel in on a secret. In a few weeks, during asparagus season, there will be a huge strike. Anyone who hasn't joined them should be careful.
Esperanza worries that the strike might keep her from working. But Miguel figures if enough people stop working, he might find it easier to get a job at the railroad.
Fast forward a few weeks. Hortensia is making Miguel's favorite food for dinner. Why? Because Miguel just got a job as a mechanic at the railroad.
Esperanza looks at Miguel and notices that his eyes are dancing like Papa's used to when he talked about the land. His dream is coming true.