The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us

by

Reyna Grande

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Distance Between Us can help.

The Distance Between Us: Book Two: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One day, the girls in Reyna’s fifth-grade class are taken into the auditorium and shown a video about puberty. Many of Reyna’s classmates are uncomfortable or confused, but Reyna knows all about puberty and menstruation. After the assembly, Reyna is given a pamphlet and a sanitary napkin wrapped in cellophane. That afternoon, Reyna shows Mago the sanitary napkin as soon as Mago gets home from school, and excitedly tells her sister that she will soon be a real señorita. Reyna places the napkin in her drawer for safekeeping.
Though some of Reyna’s classmates are grossed out or frightened by the idea of menstruation, Reyna is almost deliriously excited about it—she wants to be a “real señorita” as soon as possible, and escape her girlhood which has held so much pain and frustration.
Themes
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
The following week, Carlos—not Mago—comes to pick Reyna up from Mrs. Giuliano’s after school. He explains that Mago isn’t feeling well, and didn’t go to school. When she gets home, Reyna goes to her drawer and—as she does every afternoon—looks for her sanitary napkin so that she can hold it and look at it. Today, though, it isn’t there. Mago comes out of the bathroom looking pale, and Reyna asks her what’s wrong. Mago explains that she has a fever and cramps. Reyna asks Mago if she’s seen the sanitary napkin, and Mago apologizes—she explains that she took it, because she got her period for the first time earlier that morning. Reyna is angry, and runs out into the yard to cry.
This passage marks the start of the young Reyna’s constant jealousy of Mago. Though Reyna loves and admires Mago, she must come to terms with the fact that her older sister will always be one step ahead of her—and the fact that Mago becomes a “señorita” first is almost more than Reyna can bear.
Themes
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
When Papi gets home, he is furious with Mago for missing school. He takes his belt off and gives her a horrible lashing. Carlos tries to intervene, but Papi won’t stop. It’s only when Reyna explains that Mago is menstruating that Papi puts his belt down. Stunned, he goes into his room, closes the door, and does not come back out. Mila comes home a little while later, and when the children tell her what Papi did to Mago, she makes some excuses for him quickly, explaining that he was “raised” that way, and then heads out to the store to buy Mago some more napkins. When Mila returns with them, Mago takes one out of the pack and gives it to Reyna. Reyna puts her new sanitary napkin back in her drawer, hoping that her “rite of passage” won’t be as painful as her sister’s.
Papi’s abuse reaches new heights as he mercilessly, violently lashes his miserable, menstruating daughter with his belt. Mila continues to enable Papi’s behavior, leaving Reyna, Mago, and Carlos to fend for themselves as best they can against their tempestuous Papi’s unpredictable rages.
Themes
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon