Study Guide

Esperanza Rising The Home

By Pam Muñoz Ryan

The Home

She pressed closer to the ground, until her body was breathing with the earth's. And with Papa's. The three hearts beating together. (1.15)

Esperanza's Papa teaches her to feel a deep connection with the land of her family's ranch. Her home isn't just the house that she lives in—it's also the vineyards, the ranch, and the land itself.

Sadness and anger tangled in Esperanza's stomach as she thought of all that she was leaving: her friends and her school, her life as it once was, Abuelita. And Papa. (4.101)

All of these things and people are a part of Esperanza's home. So it's understandable that she's pretty upset to leave it all behind. This isn't just a matter of moving to a new house; she's starting a totally new life.

She took a deep breath. The aroma of oranges from a nearby grove was reassuring and familiar. Maybe it wouldn't be so different here. (6.42)

Remember how connected Esperanza felt to the land in her old home in Mexico? That's why the smell of a familiar crop reassures her. Have you ever felt a connection to a smell? Maybe your grandma's chocolate chip cookies? Your dad's cologne? Your school cafeteria's mystery meat?

She tried to find the place in her heart where her life was anchored, but she couldn't, so she closed her eyes and pressed the palms of her hands against the earth, making sure it was there. (6.65)

When Esperanza feels lost and homeless, she tries to ground herself with, well, the ground. After all, that's one thing that's definitely not going anywhere.

"Is this our cabin or Hortensia's and Alfonso's?" asked Esperanza, hoping that hers and Mama's might be better.

"We are all together in this cabin," said Mama. (7.12)

Esperanza is used to living in a mansion, and now she has to adjust to living with four other people in a two-room shack. This will be a major reality check.

"Esperanza, if we had stayed in Mexico and I had married Tío Luis, we would have had one choice. To be apart and miserable. Here, we have two choices. To be together and miserable or to be together and happy. Mija, we have each other and Abuelita will come." (7.23)

At first, Esperanza focuses on all the material things her family has lost. But Mama steps in and lays down the law. She reminds her that they can be happy, as long as they are together. Maybe "home" is more than just a house?

Esperanza bent closer to look at the stems rooted in mulch [...] Now, if they bloomed she could drink the memories of the roses that had known Papa. (8.22)

Esperanza thinks of Papa's roses as a physical connection to her father and her old life. Because they were transported from her old home to her new, they're a pretty powerful symbol, don't you think?

Mama looked at Esperanza. "Didn't I tell you that Papa's heart would find us wherever we go?" (8.27)

Mama reassures Esperanza that Papa will always be with them, no matter where they go. With his memory, they can make a home anywhere they want to—or need to.

Then she looked around the room as if seeing it for the first time. One of the table legs was uneven and had to be propped by a piece of wood so it wouldn't wiggle. The walls were patched and peeling. The floor was wood plank and splintery and no matter how much she swept, it never looked clean. The dishes were chipped and the blankets frayed and no amount of being could remove their musty smell. (10.73)

Esperanza's new house is a far cry from the beautiful mansion that she used to call home. Take a minute and draw a picture of each of the two houses—what's the most striking difference?

Esperanza then watched her grandmother look around the tiny room that now held pieces of their new life. Isabel's pictures on the wall, a bowl of peaches on the table, the babies' toys underfoot, Papa's roses in a coffee can. (14.43)

Each of these objects is important to Esperanza because they represent the people in her life that she loves. The toys and drawings make us think of the babies and Isabel, who have become new members in Esperanza's "family." Esperanza brings the peaches home for her mother and Isabel. And the roses always remind Esperanza of her Papa. Do you have objects in your house that remind you of the people you love?