The Roots Still Firm Samples

Posted on January 19, 2024

 The Roots Still Firm

Siqueiros, David Alfaro. Portrait of Mexico Today 1932.

It was a boiling summer night, and several laughs were heard outside in the star-lit Mexico City. Isabel was lying on the floor, watching the spider doing its endless job above their heads, wishing she could be like that: not tired of hunger pressing against her stomach. Few people like them inherited wealth, and the tiny apartment was all they had from their recently deceased aunt.

Isabel heard her younger brother, Felipe, making a whiny noise as he quietly shifted, trying to fall asleep on the floor not far from her.

“Mom,” he said barely above the whisper, “I am hungry.”

Their mother was a stunning woman even then, after years of hard work that had left wrinkles on her skin. But she had never looked the same after their father died two years ago. After he joined the riot in Rio Blanco, they shot him, or so people said, and there was the sadness that made their mother even more ethereal, but it was painful to look at.

“I will look for something tomorrow,” their mom promised. “And Miguel will help me.

“Yes,” Miguel, Isabel’s older brother, said. “Come, Filipe, let me hug you.”

They fell asleep to the sounds of the rustling outside and their hunger raging inside them. They were in the city, running from the world left after their father’s death. They were like unwanted children with no parents to ask for, but they were finally looking up and crackling rare smiles.


Siqueiros, David Alfaro. From Porfirianism to the Revolution. 1957-1966. 

They had only half a year there; then, in 1910, the city was drenched in blood. The first person Isabel saw dead was their mother; she almost managed to bring the food to them, her face all red in the dirt, and they took her body inside, smothering their sobs when they heard the gunshots and the clatter of the weapon.

This food was the only one they had for a week. Isabel was looking for anything in the cupboards to give to Felipe, and Miguel attempted to humor him with his small hand-made animals.

“I can’t do that,” he said after Felipe fell asleep, “we don’t know how long the war will last.”

“I’ve heard that Diaz is ready to accept the conditions,” Isabel said.

She was still very young and terrifyingly frail for her age, and that could be why they received food during those terrifying months only as a gift from families that had lost their children when the revolution broke out. They waited for it to end: walking outside could be dangerous, and they couldn’t risk it.

When the news about the end of the fight came to them, they hugged, and Isabel told them about the news: lots of people were in demand at the textile factory nearby. They could all go.

That night was the first time they ate something more than stale cornbread and beans; Isabel even brought a very small chicken, which they decided to ration and eat for a few days, not wasting even the bones.


O’Gorman, Juan. Retablo de la Revolucion. 1968. 

Isabel was worried, though, and sick with worry: she noticed Miguel running from home, hoping to listen to the street criers who were disgruntled with the new reforms. They said the revolution was done for, but Isabel didn’t care. She tried to work and keep the house safe, but she felt their walls getting thinner every time Miguel returned home, his eyes bright and unseeing.

“We won’t get anywhere with Madero,” he said once to Isabel when they were looking through their food storage. “It’s not over yet. People are beginning to talk.”

“Perhaps you shouldn’t listen to everything you hear,” Isabel snapped at him, immediately regretting it. “I don’t know if we can survive like it for a long time.”


Reyes, Aurora. Attack on the Rural Teacher. 1936. 

Filipe worried her, too. While Miguel attended the meetings, Filipe started hanging around the church kids. Even though they were all religious, something about Filipe felt feverish, not the temporary interest Isabel saw in children sometimes. He told her he wanted to leave the factory and help the priest.

“Does the priest pay you?” Isabel asked without anger. “I am not sure we can afford it now.”

But she let him go when he was home, doing all their chores instead and making their tiny room brighter. She even found light fabric to hang near the windows.

On a long and nearly dying evening, Miguel went home and offered Isabel to move again. He had befriended one of the rich landowners. Miguel whispered, looking over his shoulder, that he was Zapata’s man. He invited them to live on his property.

“I’m not working for a hacienda all my life,” Isabel started, but he cut her off.

“It’s not like that. He’s a nice man. He wants… You’ll see.”

Only after they traveled outside the city and approached the house did Isabel realize it. She slowly turned her head, watching a vast new roof that broke the dome of the sky, and said, feeling her heart bleeding out:

“You’re going to fight for him.”

“He promises peasants to let them live on his property if they hide from the police and if one of the family joins Zapata,” Miguel said. “We are starving in the city. And Felipe’s going crazy with his priest.”

Isabel didn’t like how he said it, but most of all, she hated how Miguel formed his words: they were sharp and inevitable, hanging above them.


Orozco, Jose Clemente. The Trench. 1922-1924. 

“He’s waiting for us,” Miguel said. “Don’t make a scene. Please.”

Isabel didn’t cry, but Filipe did. He was too little to understand everything, but he knew Morelos was not there. He hugged Miguel, his tears leaving lines on his cheeks, and Isabel slowly shook her head.

“I will not let you die.”

“I will not die,” Miguel said, his voice softer than usual, “because we will win. Zapata’s the best chance we have. I will not return to the same world. You won’t. Filipe deserves a future.”

Isabel wanted to say something, but the sun illuminated the field around them, and they all became quiet, listening to the rustling of the wind and feeling its gentle kisses. These were the large corn fields that shone like gold. They would need to be gathered in several weeks, and the world smelled of freshness and a promise hiding just behind the corner. A bird flew above them, like a general calling someone into a battle.

Isabel raised her hand and waved at it.

Perhaps it would work out after all.


Rivera, Diego. The Liberated Earth. 1926-1927.

Works Cited O’Gorman, Juan. Retablo de la Revolucion. 1968.

Orozco, Jose Clemente. The Trench. 1922-1924.

Reyes, Aurora. Attack on the Rural Teacher. 1936.

Rivera, Diego. The Liberated Earth. 1926-1927.

Siqueiros, David Alfaro. From Porfirianism to the Revolution. 1957-1966.

Siqueiros, David Alfaro. Portrait of Mexico Today. 1932.

Upgrade your essays with these FREE writing tools!
Get started now