by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Esperanza Rising Chapter 7 Summary
Las Cebollas (Onions)
- Home sweet home… ish. They've made it.
- The Mexican camp consists of rows of white cabins that look about as nice as the horse stalls on Esperanza's old ranch.
- Marta jumps out of the truck and runs to speak to some of her friends in English. They all look at Esperanza and laugh.
- Hmm. It looks like Esperanza had better learn English.
- Esperanza is dismayed to see that the whole camp shares communal toilets. But Isabel says it's better than some camps where they have to go in ditches. Yep, communal toilets it is.
- The foreman shows Alfonso which cabin is theirs, and Mama and Esperanza walk into the tiny two-room structure.
- Esperanza assumes this is the cabin for her and Mama. But Mama tells her they have to share it with Alfonso, Hortensia, and Isabel.
- This is a family camp, and each family must have a male head of household. There's no housing for single women, so they'll have to pretend that Alfonso and Mama are cousins.
- Mama sings while she unpacks, and Esperanza flips out. How can Mama sing at a time like this?
- Mama shuts the door and tells Esperanza to sit down. Uh oh. Esperanza is in for a lecture.
- They have two choices, Mama explains. To be together and be miserable, or to be together and be happy. In Mexico, they wouldn't have had that choice. They would have been separated by Tío Luis.
- This smart lady tells Esperanza to be grateful. Many people come to this area in search of work and have to wait months to get a job. They are lucky to have work and a place to live.
- A few minutes later, Isabel comes into the room and asks Esperanza to tell her a story. She wants to know what it like was to be rich.
- Esperanza tells Isabel that she still is rich. Soon Abuelita will arrive with all her money, and she'll take Esperanza away from all of this!
- (Hmm, not the answer we were looking for.)
- This girl is miserable.
- Next thing you know, Esperanza smells breakfast. She's slept through dinner and the entire night, and now it's the first day of work.
- Esperanza and Isabel will watch the babies while the men pick grapes and the women pack grapes in the sheds.
- Esperanza will also get paid to sweep the wooden platform in the camp every afternoon.
- Miguel has gone to Bakersfield to look for work at the railroad.
- Mama looks a bit different that day. She's wearing her hair in a long braid down her back, like a peasant. Esperanza doesn't like it, but Mama points out that it's more practical.
- Esperanza goes next door to help Isabel with the twin babies, Lupe and Pepe. The girls clean them up and then Isabel shows Esperanza the camp.
- On the tour, a little girl runs up and takes Isabel's hand. Isabel introduces her as Silvia, her best friend.
- Silvia grabs Esperanza's hand. At first, Esperanza wants to pull her hand away and wash it. But then she remembers Mama's kindness to the peasant girl on the train, and she realizes it must be difficult to stay clean in a place like this. So she squeezes Silvia's hand and tells them about her best friend Marisol in Aguascalientes.
- Next up, Esperanza meets Irene and her daughter Melina. They've already heard about Esperanza's family.
- Melina says her husband used to work for Señor Rodríguez in Aguascalientes. Esperanza asks if he knew Marisol, Señor Rodríguez's daughter. Melina laughs and says no—her husband is un campesino, a field servant. He wouldn't have known the family.
- Esperanza asks Isabel how Irene and Melina know all about her already. Easy, says Isabel. In camp, everybody knows everybody else's business. Well, then.
- It quickly becomes obvious that Esperanza isn't much of a housekeeper. In fact, she doesn't know the first thing about housework.
- Soon, Esperanza is getting lessons in keeping house from Isabel. Who, may we remind you, is only eight years old.
- Little Isabel has to show her how to wash the babies' diapers.
- But Esperanza still has a long way to go. When she goes out to sweep the platform, we suddenly realize that she doesn't know how to use a broom.
- This is just embarrassing.
- She's so focused that she doesn't notice when several trucks pull up, bringing workers back from the fields and the sheds.
- Esperanza hears laughter, and she sees Marta and a group of women pointing at her. Marta calls her "La Cenicienta, Cinderella."
- How humiliating. Esperanza drops the broom and runs back to the cabin.
- Isabel finds Esperanza in her room, sitting by herself. Yup, the whole camp is talking about this.
- Miguel walks into the room, carrying the broom and dustpan. He shows Esperanza how to sweep, and calls her "mi reina, my queen"—just like he used to.
- Miguel hasn't been able to find work at the railroad. Even though he's a gifted mechanic, they will only hire Mexicans to dig ditches or lay tracks.
- Isabel asks for another story. Esperanza promises to tell her all about her luxurious former life if Isabel will teach Esperanza how to do housework.
- It's a deal.
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