Ezperanza Rising
Pam Muñoz Ryan
Contributed by Katlyn Weinert
Chapter 11

Springtime means that is time for the asparagus to be harvested, but this year it also means the resurgence of the strike, just as Marta had predicted. There are people holding signs all over the camp, urging everyone else to join the strike. Esperanza is once again working with Josefina and Hortensia, this time packing asparagus. When Esperanza and the other workers arrive at the packing shed, the strikers taunt them and throw stones at them. Esperanza sees Marta among the strikers.

There are guards at the entrance to the packing shed, protecting the workers so they can package the asparagus according to schedule. That night, Miguel and Alfonso relay that there is a similar situation unfolding in the fields - guards are protecting the field workers from the strikers as well. Meanwhile, the whole family is worried about the new immigrants arriving in the valley because these workers are agreeing to pick cotton at 5 cents per pound, which is far below a livable wage.

One day, when Esperanza is packing asparagus, she notices that the strikers have stopped chanting. Josefina sees a group of vehicles coming from the immigration office. They are going to haul away the strikers and deport them as punishment for disrupting the packers and growers. Esperanza and the others are safe because they have continued working throughout the strike, but Esperanza shudders at the thought of being sent back to Mexico alone and therefore, separated from Mama.

After the strikers are gone, Esperanza goes to get more rubber bands for the asparagus packaging. She is surprised to find Marta hiding beneath the crates. Marta begs Esperanza to help her remain concealed. In an uncharacteristic display of empathy for her former rival, Esperanza does not reveal Marta’s hiding spot. Esperanza understands Marta’s terror at the prospect of being separated from her mother. Therefore, Esperanza gives Marta an apron and helps her disguise herself as a worker.

Back at the camp, Hortensia is relieved that the strike is over but Miguel warns that there will be another strike soon because more people will rise up and organize. Esperanza remembers Marta and is determined to find out if she was able to escape the immigration officials.

Esperanza and Miguel return to the farm the next day in a jalopy. Immigration officials have already raided the field and there is no one is in sight. Esperanza hopes that Marta is with her mother. Then , she spots the piñata she gave to the small children earlier. It is blowing in the wind, its insides destroyed.


This chapter is filled with foreboding and uncertainty. It is unclear whether or not the strike has truly ended; Miguel predicts that new strikers will return. Furthermore, Esperanza finds herself in a deeply compromising position when she discovers Marta hiding from the immigration officials. Until this point, Esperanza has harbored a great deal of resentment towards Marta and has made all her decisions based on her family’s well-being. However, by helping Marta hide, Esperanza risks her own safety. This shows how far Esperanza has developed as a person - even without Mama’s guidance.

Esperanza experiences a major turning point when she makes the decision to hide Marta, because it shows that she has learned how to feel empathy for people who are different from her, which she could not do at the beginning of the novel. Even though she and Marta are not on the same side of the strike, Esperanza is able to see that they have something in common - a sense of responsibility for their mothers.

Esperanza feels uncomfortable about continuing to work while the strikers are trying to unite all the migrant workers to fight for better conditions. However, Esperanza knows that if she wants to reunite her family, she will have to restrain herself from rocking the boat. Similar to her first meeting with Marta, Esperanza wonders if the strikers would understand her choice if she had the chance to explain her position. However, Esperanza is now wise enough to recognize that the strikers do not care about her circumstances. They only support those who agree with their strike.

Just as each new season means a different job for Esperanza and the other migrant workers, it also brings new challenges and struggles. Muñoz Ryan marks the changing seasons in the novel by naming each chapter after the fruit or vegetable that has the most significance during that particular period in Esperanza’s life.

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