by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Esperanza Rising Chapter 8 Summary
Las Almendras (Almonds)
- Working in the sheds is tough. Mama and Hortensia complain about their aching bodies, but Josefina reassures them that they'll get used to it.
- After a long, hard day at work, it's family dinner time.
- After dinner, Miguel and Alfonso disappear on a mysterious mission. Those two are always up to something.
- Just before sunset, Miguel comes back and asks Mama and Esperanza to follow him.
- Are you ready for the big reveal? Behind the cabin, Miguel and Alfonso have planted a rose garden.
- But these aren't just any roses. These are roses that they have managed to save from Papa's old garden in Aguascalientes. So sweet.
- Esperanza is moved to tears. Mama tells her, "Didn't I tell you that Papa's heart would find us wherever we go?"
- The next day is the big camp-wide party, called a jamaica.
- The women all gather in one cabin to take baths. Esperanza expects Hortensia to bathe her, like she has since Esperanza was a baby. She stands awkwardly near the tub, waiting for Hortensia to undress her. She's forgotten that things are different now.
- This could potentially be really embarrassing, but fortunately Hortensia is a tactful lady. She doesn't make Esperanza feel bad for expecting some help and says now they can all help each other.
- Once they're all clean and pretty, Isabel and Esperanza go outside to shell some almonds for Josefina.
- Isabel tries to convince Esperanza to go to the party that night. But Esperanza is so not feeling it.
- After all, Marta and all her friends will be there.
- Isabel tells Esperanza a little more about Marta. She and her mother were both born in the U.S., so they're citizens. They've never even been to Mexico. Marta's father came from Mexico during the Mexican Revolution.
- Juan doesn't like it when Marta and her friends come to the jamaicas, because they're always talking about striking.
- So yeah, the mean girl brigade will probably be there. But Josefina is going to make flan de almendra, almond flan.
- Hmmm: potential humiliation on the one hand, almond flan on the other…
- That settles it. Esperanza is definitely going to the party. She never says no to a good flan.
- At the party, Isabel drags Esperanza over to check out—wait for it—a box of kittens. (Yes, this is our idea of a perfect party.)
- By the time Esperanza is finished convincing Isabel's mom to let them keep one, a crowd has gathered.
- It's Marta and her friends. They're trying to convince the workers to join the strike. Don't be like meek little kittens, she tells the crowd. Be ferocious tigers.
- The workers kick Marta and her friends out of the party.
- On the way back to the cabins, Esperanza asks Josefina what Marta's deal is.
- Marta and her mother are migrant workers, which means they travel all over the state looking for work. The migrant camps are the worst.
- The company camp where Esperanza is living now is one of the better camps. That explains why a lot of the people who live there don't want to join the strike. They don't want to risk losing their jobs.
- The strikers want higher wages for the people who pick cotton. Right now they only make seven cents for every pound of cotton they pick.
- And in case you didn't think things were complicated enough already, lots of people are moving to the San Joaquin Valley from places like Oklahoma. That means if the Mexican workers lose their jobs, there are plenty of new workers to take their place.
- Esperanza tells Isabel a bedtime story about her old life in Aguascalientes, but it feels weird talking about luxurious parties after hearing about Marta and her family.
- When Esperanza's Mama comes home, they lie in bed and talk about the things they miss and the things they are going to pray for in church the next day. Esperanza's Mama says she will pray that Esperanza can be strong, no matter what happens.
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