by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Esperanza Rising Chapter 9 Summary
Las Ciruelas (Plums)
- It's the first day of school. Esperanza walks Isabel to the bus stop, while Isabel gives her last-minute instructions on how to take care of the babies.
- At home, Esperanza watches the twins and puts on the stove a big pot of beans that Hortensia had prepared. Next up, she feeds the babies plums for lunch and then puts them down for a nap. Looks like she's got everything under control.
- Or not. When the babies wake up, they have diarrhea. Eww.
- While Esperanza is trying to deal with all the dirty diapers, the beans on the stove start to burn. This is very quickly turning into a disaster.
- What would Hortensia do? When Esperanza had a tummy-ache, Hortensia always used to give her rice water... jackpot.
- Somehow, Esperanza figures out how to make rice water by herself. Then she feeds it to the babies and waits for Isabel to come home to help her deal.
- When Isabel gets home, she congratulates Esperanza on the rice water strategy. That was exactly the right thing to do. Booya.
- That night, no one mentions all the diapers hanging out to dry or the fact that the beans are a little burnt.
- Esperanza goes to bed early. It's been a rough day.
- The grownups have to work every day now, because the grapes need to be harvested. That means it's go time.
- Esperanza gets used to the whole housekeeping thing after a while. The babies adore her, and Esperanza knows how to wash diapers like a pro.
- One day, Melina and Irene come over. They sit outside, talking about the strike that is supposed to go down that day, when suddenly the weather gets really crazy.
- A hot blast of wind hits them, and the sky in the east looks brown. It's a bird! It's a plane! Nope. It's a dust storm.
- The women run inside with the babies and shut all the windows.
- All the dirt in the air makes it impossible to see out the window. Dirt and sand fly against the windows, and dust seeps in under the doors.
- Man, if it's this bad inside the house, things must be terrible for all the poor people in the sheds and fields.
- Esperanza hears a meowing at the door, and opens it to find Isabel's orange kitten covered in brown dirt.
- When the wind stops, Irene and Melina run home with Melina's baby covered by a blanket. The air is still full of dust.
- Isabel gets home from school, worried about her cat.
- Then the women get home from the sheds. Mama is coughing, and the women have so much dirt on their faces, they look like raccoons.
- As it turns out, the trucks couldn't get to the workers in the sheds or the fields. When the men get home, they are completely caked in dirt.
- Alfonso tells the family that the strike failed because of the storm. All the cotton is now buried in dirt. Tomorrow, none of the strikers will have a job.
- The grapes, on the other hand, are higher off the ground and still in need of picking. That means Esperanza's family will go back to work.
- The next day, everyone goes about their business as if nothing unusual had happened.
- The only thing that seems to have changed is Mama. She never stops coughing.
- A month later, Mama still isn't better. She's pale, and she has lost weight. Hortensia thinks she should go to the doctor, but Mama refuses—after all, doctors are expensive.
- Mama lies down to rest, but when Esperanza tries to wake her, she's burning up with fever.
- They call a doctor for Mama. He's blond and American, but he speaks perfect Spanish. The doctor says that Mama has Valley Fever, a disease of the lungs caused by dust spores. If Mama survives, it might be six months before she's well again.
- That really freaks out Esperanza. She's already lost Papa, and Abuelita is still so far away—she doesn't know what she'd do if she lost Mama.
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