Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Rising Summary and Analysis of Chapter 7: Las Almendras (Almonds)


All the adults are tired when they return home from working in the fields, especially Mama because she is not used to manual labor. As the women prepare dinner for the rest of the family, Esperanza notices that Miguel and Alfonso are doing something secretive outside.

Later, Miguel leads Mama, Esperanza, and the rest of the family behind the cabin. Alfonso and Miguel have fashioned a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe with a small garden of roses around it - Papa's roses. Miguel confesses that he and Alfonso saved some of the roses after the fire and carried them to California in an oilcloth. When she sees roses from both hers and Miguel’s old rose bushes, Esperanza is moved.

The following day is washday. The women set up tubs in one of the cabins and lug hot water inside to fill them. Esperanza quickly learns that Hortensia will no longer be helping her bathe. She is initially embarrassed, but then pitches in to help everyone clean themselves off before the party that will take place at the camp that evening.

After their baths, Isabel and Esperanza have to shell almonds. Esperanza expresses her uncertainty about going to the party because she knows that Marta will be there. Isabel advises Esperanza to get it over with and face her enemy. However, once Esperanza learns that the almonds they are shelling will be used in a flan for the party, she decides to go.

That night, the platform at the center of the camp is clean and decorated with lights. People from nearby camps join the evening’s festivities. There is dancing and music, although Esperanza stays beside her mother for most of the night. She misses Marisol and her other friends. Isabel distracts Esperanza by showing her a bunch of newborn kittens. Josefina gives Esperanza permission to keep one of the tiny animals. Just then, Marta and her crew arrive. Marta is clearly in no mind to party - she stands atop a truck and urges everyone to join the strike that will take place in two weeks. Soon, an older man shouts for Marta to be quiet and leave the camp.

Esperanza does not fully understand what fuels Marta’s anger, so Isabel explains the tough working and living conditions for some of the migrant workers. She cautions that if the Mexicans strike, the landowners will simply replace them with migrant workers from Oklahoma. Isabel quickly changes the subject and asks about the parties that Esperanza used to attend. At first, Esperanza gladly complies with the younger girl's request, but when Isabel falls asleep, Esperanza feels relieved to be able to stop.

That night, Esperanza and Mama talk about what they will pray for at church the next morning. Esperanza tells mama that she will pray for Papa, for Abuelita’s health, for Miguel to find a mechanic job, and for herself to be able to complete all of the chores on her own when Isabel goes to school.


In this chapter, Muñoz Ryan brings back the heavily symbolic roses from el Rancho de las Rosas. Miguel and Alfonso have been able to preserve the delicate flowers throughout the long journey to the United States and even regrow them in Californian soil. Miguel and Esperanza’s rose bushes are together again in their new home - but this time, they are equals. Esperanza's plant no longer overpowers Miguel's. The rosebushes and the shrine represent the fact that Esperanza and Mama can hold onto certain parts of their past in this new land. They will never fully leave Papa and el Rancho de las Rosas behind - it will always be part of their lives.

Mama explains to Esperanza that the flourishing roses show that Papa’s heart will always find them. The flowers also represent the connection between human beings and nature. At the beginning of the novel, Papa is the one who guides Esperanza to appreciate the cycles of nature. Now, Miguel takes Papa's place in Esperanza's life - showing her that it is possible for a plant to flourish and bloom even if it is in foreign soil.

By this point, Esperanza has started to change her attitude and adjust to her new life. When it comes time to bathe, Esperanza momentarily forgets that she will have to bathe herself now and Hortensia will no longer help her the way she did back in Mexico. However, Esperanza does not express any indignation about her circumstances in this instance (as she has done before). Instead, she accepts this new way of doing things, which shows her increasing adaptability and maturity. Esperanza even agrees to help the other women prepare for their baths and fetches extra water for Hortensia as well.

Esperanza also learns to face her challenges instead of running away from them. With Isabel's encouragement, Esperanza attends the camp fiesta even though she knows it will mean having to see Marta. Additionally, Esperanza learns more about Marta's background when the older girl tries to rally the partygoers to strike for higher wages and better rights. Even though Esperanza does not fully grasp the political inequality that she is now living in, she starts to understand Marta's perspective. This moment foreshadows the development of Marta and Esperanza's relationship later on in the novel.