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Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Rising


by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza Rising Theme of Visions of America

Esperanza and Miguel imagine the United States to be a land of opportunity, where everyone gets a chance to succeed. Unfortunately, this dream turns out to be a wee bit idealistic. Sure, it looks like the United States is a prosperous place. With farmland extending as far as the eye can see, how could anyone starve in a place like this? But as it turns out, plenty of people in the U.S. are struggling with issues like poverty, exploitation, and racial prejudice. In Esperanza Rising, America is no utopia. But it's still a place with a better chance for making dreams come true.

Questions About Visions of America

  1. Why do you think the novel presents so many panoramic views of the San Joaquin Valley? What do these huge, sweeping vistas of farmland say about America?
  2. What ideas do Esperanza and Miguel have about the United States before they get there? Do these ideas turn out to be true?
  3. What kinds of social problems are people dealing with in the United States in the 1930s? How do these issues affect Esperanza and the people she knows?
  4. Why do so many people want to immigrate to the United States in the 1930s? What are some of the particular challenges that they face as immigrants?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

America in this book is a big old bummer. Poverty and prejudice make persevering tough work for our characters.

The racial prejudice of American employers and the abuses of the immigration officials show Esperanza that working in the United States is no better than being a servant in Mexico. Mexicans in the United States are treated like "second-class citizens" (13.48).

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