The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us

by

Reyna Grande

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The Distance Between Us: Book One: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One afternoon, Reyna and Carlos pick Mago up from the train station. Mago marvels at how many people are travelling on trains to El Otro Lado, and she dreams of saving up enough money to take Carlos and Reyna and board a train bound for the United States. Reyna asks if they’d really leave Mami behind, and Mago angrily insists that Mami is always leaving them. Mami has moved away again—she is living with Tía Güera, closer to her job at the record shop. Though the children begged her not to move out yet again, she insisted that it made more sense for her to live closer to work.
After so many instances of being abandoned, Mago is beginning to develop ideas about how to stave off further disappointment. She wants to be the one to do the leaving, for once, and thinks that if she has her siblings with her, she can perhaps triple the impact of her departure.
Themes
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
At Mago’s sixth-grade graduation ceremony, Mami’s record-store boss acts as Mago’s “godfather” during the ceremony. He and his wife bring her huge bouquets of flowers, and she is the envy of all her classmates. There is a large party afterwards at Tía Güera’s apartment, and Mami lavishes gifts and food on Mago. For the first time in years, Mago has a day where she doesn’t have to work or be responsible for anyone else—she can simply enjoy her success.
Though Mago has fantasized about leaving, as she graduates from junior high, she finds herself the beloved center of attention. For once, she is allowed to be the little girl that she is—even if just for a day.
Themes
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
Reyna writes that thirteen years later, she would return to Iguala from El Otro Lado during her junior year of college. Her Mami’s record-store boss would invite her to a party at his house—where her cousin Lupita, Tía Güera’s daughter, would be working as their maid.
Reyna uses this brief aside to point out how generational cycles of poverty will keep many members of her family trapped for years—her and her siblings’ dreams of escape will come to fruition, but many of their relatives’ will not.
Themes
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon