by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?
When we get to the end of Esperanza Rising, we get the feeling that we've been here before. Not only because we've read this novel twenty times already—because the ending kind of reminds us of the beginning.
Did you notice that the title of the final chapter, "Las Uvas (Grapes)," is the same as the title of the first full chapter? Yep, the harvest has come full circle, and it's time to pick grapes again. But this time, Esperanza will really be working instead of just cutting one ceremonial cluster of grapes while wearing a silk dress. That's right—this repetition makes us realize how much has changed for Esperanza in the last year.
It's not only the title of the chapter that reminds us of the novel's opening. It's also the context—once again, it's our heroine's birthday. On last year's birthday, Esperanza was in the dumps, big time. Her father had just been killed, and when she woke up, "Her smile faded, her chest tightened, and a heavy blanket of anguish smothered her smallest joy" (3.1). Well how's this for different? When Esperanza hears the traditional serenade on the morning of her fourteenth birthday, she "sat up in bed and listened. And smiled" (14.106).
Esperanza may have lost a lot, but she's also figured out what's really important to her. Some serious healing has taken place over the course of 365 days.
There's one more repetition worth thinking about. Check out the novel's final sentences:
Esperanza smiled and reached over and gently pulled the yarn, unraveling the uneven stitches. Then she looked into Isabel's trusting eyes and said, "Do not ever be afraid to start over." (14.111)
Sound familiar? Esperanza repeats to Isabel the lessons (about needlework and life) that Abuelita once taught her. In one short year, this young lady has come a long, long way.