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Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Rising


by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Character Clues

Character Analysis

Clothing and Hairstyles

In Esperanza Rising, the look of the women in Mexico can reveal a lot about their social status. Mama and Esperanza, for example, wear silk dresses and slippers. Mama even wears her hair in a braided crown. Obviously, these cute styles are totally impractical for hard work, like cutting grapes. By that logic, you can tell that these ladies are at the top of the social pyramid.

On the other end of the style spectrum, the servants on Papa's ranch (campesinos) wear sturdy, comfortable clothing and bandanas to protect them while they work in the sun.

When Esperanza and her fam move to the United States, the transformation in their clothing reflects their change in social status. Esperanza and her mother now wear second-hand clothes that don't match or fit them well. And Esperanza's Mama stops wearing her hair in the style of a queen and starts wearing it like the peasants do: in a single, long braid. It fits better that way under her new worker's hat.

Actions (of Generosity)

We can tell a lot about the main characters in Esperanza Rising based on the way they generously share their things with other people. Sharing is caring, after all. Let's take a look at some examples:

  • We know Papa is a good man because, unlike many wealthy ranchers, he shares his land with his employees. Best boss ever.
  • Poverty-stricken Carmen gives a precious hen to Mama, a woman she has just met, and then she helps a beggar woman with a few coins and some tortillas.
  • Remember when Alfonso and Miguel save some of the roses from Papa's garden and plant them outside their new California home? That's not only generous—it's just plain sweet as pie.
  • Esperanza has to learn how to be generous, too, which is especially hard after she loses all her possessions. But eventually Esperanza learns to share, giving food and a piñata to a family in need and giving her precious doll to Isabel. Looks like Esperanza has joined the ranks.