Aguascalientes, Mexico 1924
1. What does Papa mean when he tells Esperanza that the land is alive?
2. Why does Papa teach Esperanza how to listen for the earth’s heartbeat?
Grapes (six years later)
1. Why are the residents of El Rancho de las Ross gathered at the edge of the field?
2. What is Esperanza’s role at the start of the harvest? Why does this task fall to her?
3. Why is Esperanza anxious for the harvest to be over?
4. What event foreshadows that something bad will happen?
5. Who is Miguel? Describe his relationship with Esperanza.
6. Who are Tio Marco and Tio Luis? Why do they ride to the ranch on the night that Sixto is missing?
7. Why does Tio Luis’s attention to her make Esperanza fear for her father?
8. What had Sixto been warned about the day before his death?
9. Abuelita uses figurative language throughout the story. When Esperanza tells Abuelita about her
finger, Abuelita says, “There is no rose without thorns.” She is referring to the proverb “every rose
has its thorn.” What does she mean?
10. How can Esperanza’s incident with the rose be seen as a metaphor?
1. How do others express their condolences to Papa’s family? How do Esperanza and Mama comfort
2. Why does Esperanza avoid opening her birthday presents?
3. Explain Esperanza’s reaction when she opens the doll that Papa bought her.
4. Tio Luis and Tio Marco appear to be taking over Sixto’s study and position. What do they do to
make this clear to Esperanza, Mama, and Abuelita?
5. Why did Sixto leave the house and income from the business to Mama and Esperanza, but the land
to Tio Luis?
6. Why does Tio Luis want the house, and how does he try to get it from Mama?
7. What warning does the lawyer give Mama before he leaves?
8. What is the significance of the rosehips Esperanza sees in Papa’s garden?
9. When Miguel and Esperanza meet in the garden, how do they act toward each other, and how does
their conversation end?
10. Why do Alfonso, Hortensia, and Miguel plan to go to the United States?
1. Why does Esperanza dream that a bear is smothering her?
2. Before leaving the house, Esperanza looks around to find something to save. What items does she
3. What happens when Mama realizes that Abuelita is missing?
4. What does Abuelita say is the reason she did not leave the house with the others?
5. How does the following passage employ both personification and simile?
“The fire’s anger could not be contained. It spread to the grapes. The flames ran along the deliberate
rows of the vines, like long curved fingers reaching for the horizon, lighting the night sky.”
6. Why are Esperanza, Abuelita, and Mama sure that the uncles were behind the fire?
7. Why does Mama tell Tio Luis that she will consider his proposal?
8. Why do Mama’s plans confuse Esperanza?
Esperanza Rising Student Questions 1
9. Why does mama smile when Alfonso says that if she and Esperanza leave, it would be a great
insult to Tio Luis?
10. When Abuelita says, “We are like the phoenix, rising again, with new life ahead of us, “ to what is
she alluding, and what does it mean?
11. Why does Esperanza not understand that the clothes from the poor box are for them?
12. Who is the only person Esperanza and Mama can trust to help them escape? Why?
13. When it is time to escape, when do the two families leave the ranch, where are they going, and
what route do they take? Explain why they must travel this way.
14. Why do Esperanza and Mama stop at the edge of the fields and look back at El Ranch de las Rosas?
What is Esperanza thinking and feeling?
1. Why must Senor Rodriguez keep Mama and Esperanza’s escape a secret from Marisol?
2. What is the purpose of the second floor that was a built on the wagon?
3. Why is it important that the women be hidden?
4. How does Esperanza react to being in the small space?
5. What story does Hortensia tell Esperanza to make her feel less afraid?
6. Describe the difference between Esperanza’s first train experience and her second one.
7. Why does Miguel frown at Esperanza when she tells Mama that the people in the peasant car don’t
look trustworthy and they shouldn’t be entering it?
8. Why does Esperanza not want to share her doll with the little girl on the train?
9. Mama is disappointed and embarrassed by Esperanza’s behavior. Describe how Mama handles the
10. What change begins to take place in the relationship between Miguel and Esperanza on the train
11. What does Carmen mean when she says, “ I am poor, but I am rich?”
12. Why was it unusual for Carmen, Mama, and Hortensia to speak so intimately after just meeting?
13. Why was this brief encounter hard for Esperanza to understand?
14. What does Miguel mean when he says, “The rich take care of the rich, but the poor take care of
those that have less than they have?”
1. When they get off the train at the Mexicali border, Esperanza notices that there is a difference
between how people are treated during the process of verifying paperwork. Give examples from
the text that illustrate this difference.
2. Why does Mama feel sad for the people being sent back to Mexico?
3. Who meets Esperanza, Mama, Alfonso, Hortensia, and Miguel when the train arrives in California?
4. What does Esperanza compare Isabel to when she first sees her?
5. Upon meeting Esperanza, Isabel begins to ask her a lot of questions about her life. Why does this
6. As Esperanza takes in her new surroundings, what does she observe, and what are her thoughts
about Los Angeles?
7. Why is Esperanza so upset when she cannot hear the heartbeat of the valley when they stop for
8. What is the significant of Esperanza holding onto Miguel’s hand while she cries?
9. What does it mean when the field markers are down? Why is it important for Esperanza’s and
Miguel’s families know that?
10. Why is Marta so mean to Esperanza when they first meet?
11. How does Esperanza feel when Miguel and Marta engage in friendly conversation?
Esperanza Rising Student Questions 2
12. Summarize Isabel’s description of the housing arrangements in the camp, and explain the purpose
for the arrangement.
1. What is Esperanza’s first impression of the cabins when they arrive at camp?
2. Why must Esperanza and Mama live with Alfonso and Hortensia?
3. What is Esperanza’s reaction to this news?
4. Mama tries to impart a lesson to Esperanza in her response. What is it?
5. Silvia’s hands are dirty, and although Esperanza wants to pull her hand away, she does not.
Explain the reason for Esperanza’s response and why it is significant
6. Why does Esperanza tell Isabel that she knows how to sweep?
7. Why do Marta and the other women laugh at Esperanza?
8. How is Miguel kind to Esperanza after the incident? What does he do to help her?
1. What surprise do Alfonso and Miguel have for Esperanza and mama after dinner?
2. Why are the roses so special to Esperanza and Mama?
3. Why is Esperanza excited about the prospect of having a bath?
4. What does Esperanza do that causes her embarrassment, before her bath?
5. How do Mama and Hortensia help to ease Esperanza’s embarrassment?
6. What is the jamaica, and why does Esperanza not want to go?
7. What makes Esperanza decide to attend the jamaica?
8. Marta gets up on the bed of a truck to speak to the crowd. What is she trying to convince people to
9. Marta uses a kitten to explain her point. What does she do with the kitten, and what does it
10. Why are some of the men from camp angry with Marta?
11. What are Josefina’s reasons for not striking?
12. After learning about Marta’s life as a migrant worker, why does Esperanza feel bad about
describing the parties she had in her old life?
13. At the end of the chapter, Mama and Esperanza have a conversation in which Esperanza shows she
is maturing. What does Esperanza say that shows she is maturing?
1. Why is Isabel nervous about leaving Esperanza behind with the babies?
2. Why is Esperanza so tired after she had laid the babies down to sleep?
3. What makes the babies sick, and how does Esperanza handle the situation?
4. Except for Isabel, no one comments on the many soiled diapers, the burnt beans, the bowl of rice
water, and Esperanza’s desire to go to bed early. Why?
5. How is Melina like both a young girl and an older woman?
6. Why is Irene sympathetic to both the strikers and those who will not strike?
7. What causes the sudden blast of hot air?
8. During the dust storm, why does Esperanza worry about the people in the fields?
9. Explain how the dust storm affects the strike and people who are involved in it?
10. To what does Alfonso attribute the strikers’ situation?
11. A week after the dust storm. Esperanza notes that everything has gone back to the way it was
except the earth and Mama. How has Mama changed?
12. Why is Esperanza worried about Mama?
13. A doctor comes to examine Mama. What does he say is wrong with her?
14. Describe the characteristics of this illness, and explain why Mama is the only one to contract it.
Esperanza Rising Student Questions 3
15. When Esperanza asks the doctor when Mama will be well again, what does the doctor say that
1. When the doctor comes back to check on mama, what is his assessment?
2. What item does Mama ask Esperanza for?
3. What does Esperanza do in response, and why.
4. Abuelita taught Esperanza to crochet by using mountains and valleys to help her remember how
to make rows. How did Abuelita use this explanation to teach Esperanza a lesson about life?
5. Why does the doctor recommend that Mama be taken to a hospital?
6. Why does the thought of taking Mama to a hospital frighten Esperanza so much?
7. What is the cause of Mama’s depression?
8. Why is Esperanza determined to find a way to get Abuelita to California?
9. Why does Esperanza ask Miguel to help her get a job?
10. Cite the reasons Miguel gives for why Esperanza cannot work in the fields or the sheds.
11. What does Miguel suggest instead, and why?
12. Describe the conditions the women work in as they cut potatoes. How do they deal with these
13. While the women work, they talk about the strike. What are some of the issues that they discuss?
14. Who are La Miagra, and what is Repatriation?
15. Why is Esperanza listening to hear if anyone is going to Aguascalientes for Christmas?
16. Isabel has taught Esperanza how to care for the home and babies. What has Esperanza taught
17. As Esperanza tells Isabel about Christmas at El Rancho de las Rosas, she looks around the room
and takes note of how different her life is now. What are her thoughts about the description she
18. What does Esperanza want for Christmas?
19. When Isabel says, “Esperanza, don’t cry again. We will sleep with you, if you want,” what does she
20. What does Esperanza mean when she whispers to Mama that she will be la patrona for the family
from now on?
1. How long does Esperanza estimate that it will take to earn enough money to send for Abuelita?
2. Why do you think that she and the others think of time in relation to the crops they pick?
3. Esperanza’s hands begin to look swollen, dry, and cracked. What does Hortensia do to make them
4. What surprises Esperanza about her memories of Mama?
5. What does Esperanza realize as she put more avocado and glycerin mixture on her hands?
6. When Miguel and Esperanza visit Mama, the doctor stops them before they reach her. What does
he have to tell them?
7. Why is Hortensia sending Esperanza with Miguel to the market to do the grocery shopping?
8. Why do Esperanza and the others do their shopping at Mr. Yakota’s market instead of one closer
9. What does Miguel mean when he says that Mr. Yakota is “getting rich on other people’s bad
10. In what way is it better to live in the camp rather than in town?
11. Why does Esperanza buy the piñata while she is in the grocery store?
12. On the way home from the grocery store, Esperanza sees Marta and her mother walking hand in
hand on the road, and she and Miguel stop to give them a ride? Where are they going, and why?
Esperanza Rising Student Questions 4
13. What are the conditions in the strikers’ camp? Use specific examples from the story.
14. What does Esperanza do when a campesino family approaches them looking for food?
15. Why does Esperanza’s generosity prompt Marta to ask if she is on the side of the strikers?
16. What is Esperanza’s response?
17. Marta warns Esperanza that there will be trouble during asparagus. How could this affect
Esperanza and Miguel?
18. When Esperanza returns from the asparagus fields, a celebratory meal is being prepared. What is
1. Who is the man with a gun sent to the asparagus fields with the workers?
2. What is Esperanza’s reaction to the crowd of angry strikers?
3. Why does Esperanza think that no explanation will matter to the strikers?
4. What happens when one of the workers from Esperanza’s camp speaks out against the strikers?
5. Cite several examples of the “surprises” the strikers leave for the workers.
6. What do the strikers hope to accomplish by attacking the workers this way?
7. What worries Miguel?
8. What signals to Esperanza that the strike is over?
9. What happens to the strikers?
10. Why do the company’s guards protect the women in the shed?
11. Explain the meaning of “voluntary deportation.”
12. What happens when Esperanza finds Marta among the crates and asparagus?
13. Why does Esperanza help Marta?
14. What is Miguel’s prediction when his mother says that she is glad the strike is over?
15. Why does Esperanza want to drive by the strikers’ camp?
16. Miguel drives Esperanza to the strikers’ camp. What does she see?
1. Why does Isabel pray at the grotto every night after dinner?
2. What does Esperanza find out when she asks Josefina about Isabel’s wish?
3. Why is Esperanza angry about the new camp that is being built for the workers from Oklahoma?
4. Describe Esperanza’s reaction to Miguel’s announcement that he has lost his job at the railroad
and is digging ditches to stay employed. Explain why she feels this way?
5. What reason does Miguel give Esperanza to explain why she will never understand his point of
6. Miguel uses on of Papa’s quotes, “What a little while and the fruit will fall into your hand,” as
advice to Esperanza. What is the meaning of the quote?
7. Why does Miguel think that Esperanza will always see herself as a “queen?”
8. Why does Esperanza feel that she is responsible for Miguel’s sudden departure?
9. What does Esperanza do to comfort Isabel, when she [Isabel] is not chosen for Queen of the May?
10. How is Esperanza’s kindness significant?
11. When Mama is well enough to come home, Esperanza and Hortensia are allowed to visit her. What
does Hortensia tell Mama that makes mama proud of Esperanza?
12. What does Esperanza find when she opens the valise to show Mama the money orders?
1. Who does everyone think took the money orders?
2. What are Esperanza’s and Josefina’s initial reactions when Alfonso enters the sheds in the middle
of the afternoon?
3. Where does Alfonso take Esperanza and Hortensia?
Esperanza Rising Student Questions 5
4. What are Miguel’s first words to Esperanza when he gets off the bus?
5. Esperanza thinks that Miguel has returned to give her back the money orders. What has he done
6. How long is the blanket that Esperanza has been crocheting for Abuelita? Why is there one row
left to stich?
7. Why does Abuelita think that Tio Luis and Tio Marco followed her?
8. How did Miguel get messages to Abuelita?
9. Abuelita is stitching the last row of the blanket as she tells her story. What is interesting about
how each event is followed by a description of Abuelita’s stitching?
10. How does Esperanza measure time in telling her story to Abuelita? What parallels can be drawn
between how each one tells her story?
11. A few days before her birthday, Esperanza asks Miguel to take her to the foothills. What happens
12. What does this scene signify about how Esperanza is feeling?
13. How does Esperanza feel as she watches the sun come up?
14. What realizations come to Esperanza?
15. Explain the author’s use of the phoenix as a symbol in this passage
16. Miguel and Esperanza each held views that turned out to be right. What were they?
17. What birthday tradition do the men continue for Esperanza?
18. What tradition does Abuelita pass on to Isabel at the end of the story?
19. What does Esperanza say to Isabel when Isabel is upset that her stiches are crooked, and what
does it mean?
Esperanza Rising Student Questions 6