by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Analysis: Narrator Point of View
Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?
Third Person (Limited Omniscient)
It's pretty clear from the get-go that Esperanza Rising is going to focus on Esperanza's perspective. And by get-go, we mean the very first paragraph:
"Our land is alive, Esperanza," said Papa, taking her small hand as they walked through the gentle slopes of the vineyard. Leafy green vines draped the arbors and the grapes were ready to drop. Esperanza was six years old and loved to walk with her papa through the winding rows, gazing up at him and watching his eyes dance with love for the land. (1.1)
Okay, so we're looking at Papa like an external observer. We get to watch his actions, but we can't read his mind. But that's not the case for Esperanza. We're not just watching Esperanza from the outside. We actually get to know what she loves, what she thinks and what she's seeing. It's like we're perched right inside her head, peeking out her eye sockets. (Only less gross.)
By giving us Esperanza's point of view, the story becomes all about the immigrant experience as lived by a thirteen-year-old Mexican girl. It's super subjective and feels really personal. In fact, we're even aware of Esperanza's deepest fears:
She felt the blood drain from her face. She wanted to tell the doctor that she could not lose Mama, too. That she had already lost Papa and that Abuelita was too far away. Her voice strangled with fear. All she could do was whisper the doctor's uncertain words, 'If she survives.' (9.102)
And we're privy to her most intimate hopes:
She soared with the anticipation of dreams she never knew she could have, of learning English, of supporting her family, of someday buying a tiny house. (14.102)
In sharing Esperanza's emotions with us, the author invites us to identify with Esperanza. We think this makes the text especially relatable to young, teenaged readers. Convenient, eh?