by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Esperanza Rising Theme of Perseverance
Abuelita is full of wise little gems in Esperanza Rising, but our favorite one is this: "Do not be afraid to start over" (2.38). If perseverance had a tagline, that would be it, don't you think? That or "get up off your lazy bum and keep at it." Either way.
Esperanza quickly figures out that Abuelita isn't just talking about crocheting. Our young protagonist is forced to leave her home, her friends, and all of the comforts of her former life in order to start over in a strange new country—the United States. Esperanza and her family work hard for pennies a day and live in poverty. And to make matters worse, they have to contend with racism and prejudice. But Esperanza, whose name means "hope" in Spanish, never gives up. Why? Because she has the support and love of her family and that special spark inside her.
Questions About Perseverance
- Esperanza's grandmother uses the zigzag pattern in her blanket as a way of explaining the ups and downs of life. When things are easy, you're at the top of a mountain. When things are hard, you're at the bottom of a valley. What do you think? Is this a good metaphor for life? What object would you use to represent the difficulties and complications of life?
- What challenges does Esperanza face in her new life in the United States?
- Papa used to tell Esperanza, "Aguántate tantito y la fruta caerá en tu mano" ("Wait a little while, and the fruit will fall into your hand"). Is he really talking about fruit? What does Esperanza's father really mean when he says this? When does Esperanza think about these words that her father used to say?
- Who are the most determined characters in this story? Do any of them ever get discouraged or give up? What convinces them to keep going?
Chew on This
Esperanza really learns what it means to be determined when her mom gets sick and she has to take on the responsibility of leading the family.
Miguel is the main force behind Esperanza's perseverance—his ambition and optimism convince her to keep on keepin' on.