The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us

by

Reyna Grande

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Abuela Evila Character Analysis

Papi’s mother and Reyna, Mago, and Carlos’s grandmother. After Juana leaves to join Natalio in El Otro Lado, the three children are sent to live with their grandmother, who abuses them, treats them like second-class citizens, and denies them attention, comfort, and affection—all while doting upon her other grandchild, Élida.

Abuela Evila Quotes in The Distance Between Us

The The Distance Between Us quotes below are all either spoken by Abuela Evila or refer to Abuela Evila. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Washington Square Press edition of The Distance Between Us published in 2012.
Book One: Chapter 2 Quotes

"What did you see?" I asked her. "'Who was that in the alley?"

"It was a man, a man on a horse," Mago whispered. The clop-clopping of the hooves grew fainter and fainter.

"So?" Carlos said.

"But he was dragging something behind him in a sack!"

"You're lying," Carlos said.

"I'm not, I swear I'm not," Mago insisted. "I swear I saw him drag a person away."

"We don’t believe you," Carlos said again. "Right, Reyna?" I nodded, but none of us could fall back to sleep.

"That's the devil making his rounds," Abuela Evila said the next morning when we told her what Mago had seen. "He's looking for all the naughty children to take back to Hell with him. So you three better behave, or the devil is going to take you away."

Mago told us not to believe anything Abuela Evila said. But at night, we huddled together even closer when we heard a horse pass by our window the sound of its hooves sending chills up our spines. Who would protect us if the devil came to steal us and take us far away where we would never see our parents again? I wondered. Every night, I would bury my face in my pillow and hold on tight to my sister.

Related Characters: Reyna Grande Rodriguez (speaker), Mago Grande Rodriguez (speaker), Carlos Grande Rodriguez (speaker), Abuela Evila (speaker)
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Book One: Chapter 5 Quotes

[Tía María Félix] left in the afternoon with little Javier. She promised Élida that one day soon she would send for her, and although she did eventually keep her promise, Élida had to stay behind for now and watch a taxicab take her mother away. Abuela Evila put her arm around Elida and held her while she cried. Elida buried her face in Abuela Evila's arms. It was so strange to see her crying. The ever-present mocking gaze was gone. The Élida that made fun of us, that laughed at us, that called us Los Huerfanitos, had been replaced by a weeping, lonely, heartbroken girl.

Mago grabbed our hands and took us to the backyard to give Élida privacy. "Los quiero mucho," she said, pulling us close to her. Then I realized how lucky Mago, Carlos, and I were. We at least had each other. Élida was on her own.

Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
Book Two: Chapter 15 Quotes

We understood what Papi must have gone through because we knew what Abuela Evila and Abuelo Augurio were like. But that didn't make us feel better. If Papi knew what it felt like to be abused by his parents, then shouldn't he understand how we felt? Shouldn't he try to be a better father? Also, it wasn't our fault that his own family had turned their backs on him, even going as far as stealing the house he worked so hard to build. So why take it out on us? Why take out all his frustrations and disappointments on us?

"I came back for you, didn't I?" he said to us sometimes when we would speak up.

Then we would shut up and lower our heads, and we would continue to take his beatings. Even the time he punched me in the nose so hard it broke, as I watched the drops of blood landing on my tennis shoe, I told myself that maybe he was right. We shouldn't expect anything better from him. He didn't forget us, after all. We were here because of him. I was in this country because of him. I begged him to bring me. I got what I wanted, after all. How could I complain now, simply because things weren't all that we had hoped for?

Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Distance Between Us LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Distance Between Us PDF

Abuela Evila Character Timeline in The Distance Between Us

The timeline below shows where the character Abuela Evila appears in The Distance Between Us. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book One: Prologue
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
When Reyna Grande was small, her father’s mother, Abuela Evila, liked to scare her and her siblings, Mago and Carlos, with stories of La Llorona—a... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 1
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...the house they’ve been renting—the children are going to stay with their paternal grandmother, Abuela Evila. As the children round up their belongings, Reyna takes from a box a framed picture... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Mami and the children arrive at Abuela Evila’s large house. Mago and Carlos beg not to have to stay with the “angry” Evila... (full context)
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Mami tells Reyna to stop whining and calls out from the gate for Abuela Evila. As Evila emerges from the house, Reyna looks at her grandmother, an old woman with... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Evila assures Mami that soon she and Papi will raise enough money to build their dream... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...she must go, and promises to return. She urges the children to head inside, and Evila opens the gate for them. Mami kisses Reyna goodbye one final time, leaving a lipstick... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 2
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Mago, Carlos, and Reyna endure difficult treatment at their Abuela Evila’s. They are made to sleep on a straw bed on the floor in the corner... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
At mealtimes, the children are forced to eat scraps and leftovers. When Evila prepares porkchops, rice, and beans, Reyna and her siblings eat burnt beans drizzled in leftover... (full context)
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
One afternoon, when Evila sends Reyna out to go buy a needle, two little girls (the daughter of the... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...shop, urging her to hold onto her pleasant memories there. On the way back to Evila’s, Mago pulls Reyna into the bamboo shack near the patio and begins telling Reyna the... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Mago takes Reyna back up to the house, but Reyna is afraid that Evila will beat her if she returns without a needle for the second time. She runs... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 3
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...and Reyna grow jealous and resentful of their cousin Élida, who is their grandmother’s favorite. Evila washes Élida’s long, shiny hair twice a week with lemon juice, then combs it out... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...and threatens to infect her perfect hair with lice. Élida runs inside to tell Abuela Evila, and Reyna chastises Mago for getting them in trouble—they’re sure to get a beating. (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
That evening, Evila decides to take care of the children’s lice once and for all. Emperatriz doesn’t want... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
The following day, the lice remain, and Evila enlists Augurio to shave the children’s heads. Reyna weeps as her grandfather cuts off her... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 4
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
By June of 1980, Reyna and her siblings have been living at Abuela Evila’s house for six months. They have stayed mostly on their grandmother’s property, only venturing outside... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...them with a new child. Already, the three of them have been living at Abuela Evila’s house for eight months, and now that Mami is pregnant, she surely won’t return to... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...have already started running away. They climb up into a tree and hide to avoid Evila’s wrath. No one can get them down, and when Carlos arrives home from school, he... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...they laugh together until Tía Emperatriz comes out and forces them down. That evening, Abuela Evila makes each of the children cut a switch from the tree, and then beats them... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 5
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
...come back is Élida’s mother, María Félix. Reyna and her siblings have been at Abuela Evila’s house for over a year when Élida turns fifteen and officially becomes a señorita. Her... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...begin, and Reyna and her siblings are put to work making decorations for the party. Evila reluctantly makes Mago and Reyna new dresses to wear, but does so half-heartedly. Reyna’s dress... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
...leaves with her son, promising Élida that one day she will send for her. Abuela Evila comforts Élida as she cries, and Reyna observes how strange it is to see her... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 6
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...she uses her left hand to write, though, she is beaten by her teacher. Abuela Evila, too, has beaten her for using her left hand to do tasks around the house,... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 8
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
...two years after her Mami left, too—construction at last begins on their family’s “dream house.” Evila gives Papi a piece of her property, and workers begin building the house right next... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 9
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...of Reyna, then sends Mago to go slice an onion and get some rubbing alcohol. Evila comes to the door and asks what all the fuss is about as Emperatriz tends... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
In the morning, Reyna is worse. She is dizzy and nauseous, and Emperatriz begs Evila to take Reyna to the doctor. Evila insists that Reyna isn’t her responsibility—she never asked... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 10
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
...to the movies later once all their chores are finished. As they arrive back at Evila’s house, they see a woman on the patio holding a chubby baby girl in her... (full context)
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evila urges the children to get their things right away—they are leaving her house. Mami hugs... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 15
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...looking after the children, but does not make much money as a healer. Unlike Abuela Evila, though, Chinta is never stingy about food or money, and often goes without eating so... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 19
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
...a visit, informing them that Papi is going to call on the phone at Abuela Evila’s in an hour. Reyna and her siblings dance around in a circle, overjoyed. They set... (full context)
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Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Reyna, Carlos, and Mago spend the night at Evila’s house. In the morning, Papi shaves Carlos’s hair to get rid of his lice, and... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...new life she is going to have in the United States. After school, at Abuela Evila’s house, Reyna begs Papi to take her, saying she’ll die of shame if her classmates... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 20
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
...that if they don’t make it, he will send them back to live with Abuela Evila. (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 1
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...he will send them back to Mexico himself and force them to live with Abuela Evila again. They each promise to do well. (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 12
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
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Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
...Mexico again. When Mago, Reyna, and Carlos ask him what happened, he says that Abuela Evila is ill and frail—Emperatriz basically swindled Evila into giving her the property, and refused to... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 15
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...any other way to behave. Reyna and her siblings understand what life with Augurio and Evila must have been like, but they no longer feel this is an excuse for Papi’s... (full context)