Esperanza Rising starts with a tragedy when Esperanza's father is murdered. Esperanza's uncles Tio Marco and Tio Luis take the advantage of the situation. They want mama to sell their house to Tio Luis and marry him. When she refuses, another tragedy strikes; their house burns down. Mama, Esperanza and one of their servants Alfonso leaves for California at midnight to avoid mistreatment from the cruel uncles. On arriving in California, life becomes very hard for Esperanza because she was born in a well up family but the wicked uncles squander their wealth. Mama is penniless, and the three of them are forced to share two small cabins with Alfonsos brothers family of five. In Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan uses Foreshadowing, characters, metaphor and setting to explore the theme of perseverance.
Pam Munoz Ryan uses Foreshadowing to predict the onset of the hard times in the life of Esperanza that would require a lot of perseverance for her to triumph. Just a day before her fourteenth birthday, she was to meet her father in the garden. As she bent over to pick a red bloom fully opened, she pricked her finger on a vicious thorn. Big pearls of blood oozed from the tip of her thumb, and she automatically thought it signified misfortune (Ryan 8). This foreshadowed the death of her father that would change the whole course of her life. Also, as Mama and Miguel were planning to leave for California, the author uses foreshadow as assurance that things will change, and the family will have to work harder to eke a living. I am stronger than you think, said mama (Ryan 49). Pam Munoz Ryan uses this foreshadowing to indicate that Esperanza and Mama will have to adapt to the new life that is full of challenges.
In the novel Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan uses the main character to explore the theme of perseverance. Initially, Esperanza lives a luxurious life in their beautiful ranch in Mexico. As the protagonist of the novel, her life changes when they flee to Mexico to escape mistreatment from her cruel uncles. In California, her mother falls sick, and she is hospitalized. Esperanza starts to do adult jobs although she is just fourteen to pay her mothers medical bill. She patiently saves some of the money so that she can have Abuelita join them in California. During all the hard time that Esperanza faces in California, she is guided by her papas words, Wait a little while, and the fruit will fall into your hand (Ryan 2). These words help Esperanza to form a pig picture that eventually teaches her the essence of hard work and patience. Having endured the pain that comes with working, she can have her mother released from the hospital and her grandmother, Abuelita is brought from Mexico to California.
Pam Munoz Ryan also uses metaphors to elucidate the normal way of life discussing the reasons perseverance is imperative. Abuelita teaches Esperanza how to crochet a zigzag pattern. She is keen to observe that the pattern is like going up a mountain and down into a valley. Esperanza compares this pattern with her life. It encourages her to have patience and perseverance through the hard time that she goes through in her new life. It also helps her learn that although we encounter difficulties in our lives, we can overcome the problems, and we become stronger and better to face more life challenges. More so, Esperanzas grandmother Abuelita advises her when she pricks her fingers on a rose thorn. There is no rose without thorns (Cappellini 105). It gives her a good lesson of her life that there is no life without difficulties.
The setting of Esperanza Rising takes place at Aguascalientes, Arvin, Mexico, and California. It also happens that it is set during a notable world event; The Great Depression that affects the whole world. During this period of The Great Depression, many people lost their jobs, homes, and properties. Also, most of the students were forced to drop out of school to assist their families in earning a living. Furthermore, most of the American and the Mexicans who had lost their jobs migrated to California in search of jobs. They ended up living in terrible conditions. All these events unfold in Esperanza Rising. Esperanza drops out of school; she helps her mother to earn a living after they migrated to California from Mexico. Esperanza Rising uses this setting to develop the protagonist, Esperanza to learn to persevere and to work hard. The setting illustrates the hard life that young people had to endure during the great depression with the hope that things will get back to normal some days. As the novel ends, Esperanza appreciates the hardships she has gone through and the victory she has gained in the process. Dont be afraid to start over (Ryan 253). Esperanza says these words to Isabel indicating her lesson that no matter how tough life hardships are she can start over and rise again.
Cappellini, Mary. Balancing Reading & Language Learning: A Resource for Teaching English Language Learners, K-5. Portland, Me: Stenhouse Publishers, 2005. Print.
Ryan, Pam M. Esperanza Rising. New York: Scholastic Press, 2000. Print.
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