by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Esperanza Rising Chapter 6 Summary
Los Melones (Cantaloupes)
- Finally the train reaches the border between Mexico and the U.S. It stops in the city of Mexicali, where the passengers must disembark in order to pass through immigration.
- The wealthy people in the nice cars get to go to the shortest lines and pass through quickly. Everyone else has to wait in long, smelly, sweaty lines.
- The immigration official is intimidating, and asks lots of scary questions. But Mama stands up tall and looks him right in the eye. She insists that everything is in order.
- The man stamps their papers with the words "Mexican National," and lets them pass.
- While Esperanza and Mama wait for everybody else to pass through, they notice several groups of people being directed onto another train headed back to Mexico.
- Mama explains why those people may have been turned away: no papers, false papers, or no proof of work. Or maybe there was a problem with just one person's paperwork, but the entire family decided to go back instead of being separated.
- In other words, Esperanza and her mom are super lucky to have made it through immigration with no problems.
- They nervously wait for Alfonso, Hortensia, and Miguel. Hortensia eventually shows up, but Miguel and Alfonso only jump on the train at the very last minute, as it's pulling away.
- Turns out they were watering their mysterious package. Hmmm.
- On a Thursday, they finally arrive in Los Angeles and meet Alfonso's family: Alfonso's brother Juan and his wife Josefina, and their children Isabel and the twins.
- Isabel, who is eight, seems to know a lot about Esperanza already. Guess Miguel has been writing about her in his letters. Um, we hope he only said nice things.
- Everybody piles into a rickety old truck and they set off.
- On the ride to their new home, Isabel explains to them that they will be living in a town called Arvin in a company-owned camp. Rent is $7 a month, and it includes running water, electricity and a kitchen.
- This camp is way better than the one Isabel's family used to live in, where they had to stay in a tent. In fact, there's even a school where Isabel will be learning to read and speak English.
- Finally, the group stops for lunch. Esperanza promptly wanders away from everyone else.
- She stops on an overlook, and wonders if she can hear the heartbeat of the valley, the way she could at home. Esperanza lies down on the land, but she can't hear the earth's heartbeat. She loses her patience and begins to cry.
- She starts to feel like she's floating upward into the sky. She can't feel her connection to the earth anymore, and she feels like she is falling. Suddenly, the world goes black.
- Esperanza must look pretty bad because Miguel hovers over her and asks if she's all right. He holds her hand and tells her that he's feeling all the things she is feeling. He misses Esperanza's Papa, too, and the ranch, and Mexico.
- This time, Esperanza doesn't let go of Miguel's hand.
- The truck enters the San Joaquin Valley. And what an impressive sight it is; farmland stretches into the distance as far as the eye can see.
- Juan stops the truck a couple times. First, they make a stop at a field that's already been harvested so they can collect leftover melons.
- Then they stop to pick up a girl that the family knows. Her name is Marta, and she is obviously checking out Miguel.
- When Marta finds out that Esperanza used to be rich, she isn't very nice to her.
- To try to change the subject, Isabel points out groups of workers from the Philippines and Oklahoma. She says that the farms keep the groups separate—they don't work or live together.
- Marta explains that the farmers don't want the workers to band together to bargain for higher wages or better housing. See, the workers negotiate better conditions on the farms by going on strike (i.e., joining together and refusing to work).
- Esperanza isn't a huge fan of Marta—she kind of wants to toss her out the back of the truck.
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