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Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Rising


by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

Two little words, so much meaning.

Spoiler alert: Esperanza is the main character. But wait, there's more! The word "esperanza" also means "hope" in Spanish. Hope, eh? There is quite a bit of that going around in this novel, that's for sure. The double meaning of the novel's title lets us know that no matter how bad things might seem, both Esperanza the person and esperanza the emotion are movin' on up.

What does it mean that Esperanza is rising? Here are a few thoughts:

  • She gets older (yep, it's that easy).
  • She rises into the air when she imagines floating above the San Joaquin Valley.
  • She grows in maturity as she learns important lessons about fairness, justice, and family.
  • She will soon be "rising above those who held them down" (14.102).

In all these ways that Esperanza is rising, hope is rising, too. Sure, Miguel has been hopeful the whole time—he's just a half-glass-full kind of guy—but it's taken Esperanza some time to gain that hope. Think about her situation when she first arrived in California and compare it her situation at the end of the novel. Things are little more hopeful now, wouldn't you say?

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