When we first meet Esperanza in Esperanza Rising, we can tell she's a sweet kid—but we have no idea if she's really a good person. After all, it's pretty easy to be agreeable when you're super wealthy and everyone throws you big parties all the time. The real test of a person's character is how they act when the going gets tough, right?
Esperanza's parents and grandmother do their best to teach Esperanza some important lessons about patience, bravery, and kindness. And boy, do these lessons pay off. Esperanza keeps their words in mind as she's challenged by the death of her father, the loss of her home and fortune, and the difficulties of a new life in a strange country. It's not easy, and Esperanza definitely makes a few mistakes along the way. But ultimately we find out that this is a young lady with a lot of integrity.
The most important lesson that Esperanza learns from Mama is that nothing matters more than being with the people you consider your family.
Esperanza has to learn to be a virtuous person. On the train, she is judgmental and unkind to the other passengers. But she learns from this mistake, and makes up for it by treating several other characters with kindness and generosity.