Sorting Hat Sunday: Esperanza Rising

I’ve been doing children’s books recently for Sorting Hat Saturday, which is really fun to do since their characters are often actually Hogwarts-age, rather than old enough to have graduated already. This week I decided to attempt sorting the characters from Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan. It wasn’t easy – partially because the heroine herself changes so much, and partially because their lives are so far from the magic and adventure of Hogwarts – but here are my thoughts:

Esperanza: Slytherin/Hufflepuff. It’s always hard sorting child characters who change so dramatically over the course of their story, especially if they’re just at the beginning of the years when they would be going to Hogwarts. By the end of the book, Esperanza would probably end up in Hufflepuff. She has become kind and selfless, she works hard to provide for her family, and she has learned to be content with very little. However, she’s already thirteen. Eleven-year-old Esperanza, the spoiled rich girl, was definitely more of a Slytherin. She cared very deeply about her family and Miguel, but looked down on the poor and saw them as beneath her. She saw no problem even in pointing out to Miguel the divide between their two social classes and could not quite understand why being told this bothered him. Even in those days, there was a bit of Hufflepuff about her, especially in her inability to imagine living anywhere but the place she grew up and her strong loyalty to her family. But then again, she retains Slytherin traits even later on. For example, she chooses not to participate in the strike even though she sympathizes with the strikers’ goals because she and her family come first. It’s amazing what a fine line there sometimes is between Hufflepuff and Slytherin, two houses whose stereotypes are polar opposites. But both houses’ members work hard for what they want, both can be loyal, and both are more practical than Gryffindors or Ravenclaws.

Miguel: Hufflepuff. Miguel is ridiculously loyal to Esperanza, even though she at times doesn’t seem to appreciate him. He’s accustomed to a life of hard work and doesn’t really seem to mind this, although he wants to become a railroad mechanic instead of continuing to do farm work or dig ditches. Of all the characters, he’s one of the most down-to-earth and stable, in direct contrast to Esperanza’s constant state of change.

Mama: Gryffindor/Hufflepuff. Esperanza’s mother is fierce and fearless. When her husband is killed by bandits and her brother-in-law tries to force her to marry him, she doesn’t cave into fear. Not even when he burns their house down. Instead, she sneaks away with her daughter to start a new life in America. Neither moving to a foreign country, nor facing poverty for the first time in her life, nor having to work hard intimidates her. It would be easy to say she’s pure Gryffindor. But just as the Hufflepuffs who fought in the Battle of Hogwarts did so for a different reason than the Gryffindors, Esperanza’s mother draws her courage from necessity, love for her daughter, and determination not to give in. There’s a very Hufflepuff sort of strength beneath all that bravery, and I think she could easily go either way.

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