The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us

by

Reyna Grande

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Carlos Grande Rodriguez Character Analysis

Reyna’s older brother Carlos is a quiet and shy boy whose crooked teeth are a source of embarrassment for him throughout his childhood and adolescence. Carlos is often in the background of the action, or otherwise caught in the middle of his sisters’ quarrels. He is committed to keeping the peace in his family and as such is often subject to harsher abuse and greater peril than his sisters. His gentle temperament and forgiving nature eventually give way to a rebellious streak, and at twenty years old, Carlos gets married in an attempt to get himself out of Papi’s abusive household.

Carlos Grande Rodriguez Quotes in The Distance Between Us

The The Distance Between Us quotes below are all either spoken by Carlos Grande Rodriguez or refer to Carlos Grande Rodriguez . 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 One: Chapter 7 Quotes

Part of me was desperate to wear those shoes. They were new. They had been sent to us by our parents. They were from El Otro Lado! But then I thought about my parents, and the fact that they didn't even know what size shoe I wore made me want to throw them in the trash.

If they don't even know something as basic as the size of our shoes and clothes, what else don't they know about us? And what don't we know about them?

The question was there, but neither Carlos, Mago, nor I was courageous enough to ponder on it for long. As the oldest, it was clearer to Mago, more than to Carlos and me, that the distance between us and our parents was destroying our relationship more than any of us could have imagined.

Page Number: 56-57
Explanation and Analysis:
Book One: Chapter 10 Quotes

"Do you miss her?" I asked.

Mago glanced at the mountain one more time and then jumped off the track-changer. "Who, Mami? But she's back," she said. “And why were you crying?"

I started crying again. I didn't know why I still felt that familiar emptiness inside when I looked at the Mountain That Has a Headache even though my mother was back.

Carlos came over to us, smiling and pointing toward the house. "Can you believe she's here?" He took a deep breath and said, “Finally, everything is going to go back to how it was before she left."

Mami stood at the door and told us to come inside. As I looked at her in the doorway, beckoning us to come in, I knew why the emptiness and the yearning were still there. Carlos was wrong.

The woman standing there wasn't the same woman who had left.

Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:
Book One: Chapter 14 Quotes

They hung Catalina by her feet so that the river would drain out of her. We all kneeled and prayed, and not once did I take my eyes off my cousin's bloated body, and I shuddered at seeing her like that, hanging by her feet, like the chickens at the meat section in el mercado, just as cold and lifeless. I was gripped with a fear so great, it made my stomach churn. What if something happened to me, Mago, Carlos, or Betty? What if, by the time Papi finishes his dream house, there’s no one left for him to keep safe? Or what if he never finishes it, what if he never returns, and we are left here to face the wolf all on our own?

Related Symbols: Catalina
Page Number: 110-111
Explanation and Analysis:
Book Two: Chapter 11 Quotes

Papi was amazed. He asked me to play something. Mago rolled her eyes at me and left us alone. I took the sax from him and played the scale Mr. Adams had taught me, except I didn’t remember it that well. But Papi didn't criticize me for messing up. Instead he said, "You know, when I was in third grade, my teacher brought some drums to class and started to teach us how to play them. We couldn't take them home, but still, it was nice coming to school and having the chance to learn to play an instrument. I hoped to join the color guard when I got to sixth grade. But a few weeks later, when I turned nine, your grandfather said I was old enough to join him at the fields, and he pulled me out of school' I never got to play the drum again. And I've been working ever since."

Papi got up and headed to the refrigerator where he took out a Budweiser. Then he went into his room. I sat in the living room to practice my sax, but Mago and Carlos complained about the noise and sent me outside. I went to the yard and continued to practice, and I played with all my heart, for myself and for my papi, who never got another chance to play anything.

Related Symbols: Reyna’s Alto Sax
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
Book Two: Chapter 19 Quotes

I didn't know why I was so angry at my sister. How could she just sever the ties that bind us to this place, to these childhood friends of ours who weren’t able to escape this poverty like we did? I was so angry at her for quitting college and ruining her chances for a successful life. Now I realized that we owed it to them, our cousins, our friends, to do something with our lives. If not for us, then for them, because they would never be able to. I understood so clearly now why Papi said there were so many people who would die to have the opportunities we had, who would kill to get their hands on a green card. Mago's and Carlos's refusal to see that angered me more than anything.

Page Number: 282
Explanation and Analysis:
Book Two: Chapter 23 Quotes

Carlos and Mago were furious about what our father had done.

Carlos said, "I spent all that time helping him with the lawyer, defending him from Mila and her restraining orders, for what? So that he could just betray us like this?"

"I'm never speaking to him again," Mago said. "He used us. He just wanted us around because he was lonely and depressed, and now that he has her back he doesn’t need us!" Once again, we were orphans.

I thought about the border that separates the United States and Mexico. I wondered if during their crossing, both my father and mother had lost themselves in that no-man's-land. I wondered if my real parents were still there, caught between two worlds. I imagined them trying to make their way back to us. I truly hoped that one day they would.

Page Number: 315
Explanation and Analysis:
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Carlos Grande Rodriguez Character Timeline in The Distance Between Us

The timeline below shows where the character Carlos Grande Rodriguez 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
...small, her father’s mother, Abuela Evila, liked to scare her and her siblings, Mago and Carlos, with stories of La Llorona—a weeping woman who steals children away. When the children were... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 1
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Reyna’s Mami ushers Reyna, Mago, and Carlos out of the house they’ve been renting—the children are going to stay with their paternal... (full context)
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Mami and the children arrive at Abuela Evila’s large house. Mago and Carlos beg not to have to stay with the “angry” Evila and instead ask to stay... (full context)
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Reyna, Mago, and Carlos beg their mother one last time to stay behind, insisting that they don’t need a... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 2
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Mago, Carlos, and Reyna endure difficult treatment at their Abuela Evila’s. They are made to sleep on... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 3
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Mago, Carlos, and Reyna grow jealous and resentful of their cousin Élida, who is their grandmother’s favorite.... (full context)
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...kerosene on the children’s heads one by one. After combing kerosene through Reyna, Mago, and Carlos’s hair, she sends them off to bed, where they lie awake all night scratching their... (full context)
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...with lemon water. In the middle of the night, she wakes up to find that Carlos has wet the bed. (full context)
Book One: Chapter 4
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...give it the gift of American citizenship. That night, Mago cries herself to sleep, and Carlos wets the bed while Reyna tries to tell herself that her parents won’t forget her. (full context)
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...tree and hide to avoid Evila’s wrath. No one can get them down, and when Carlos arrives home from school, he climbs up into the tree with his sisters. Together, the... (full context)
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Carlos tries to distract his sisters from their sadness by telling jokes, and they laugh together... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 5
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...While everyone goes to church for the first part of Élida’s ceremony, Reyna, Mago, and Carlos are made to stay home and pluck chickens for the banquet later. Once the arduous... (full context)
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...and it is Élida who is the “weeping, lonely, heartbroken” huerfanita. Mago pulls Reyna and Carlos close and tells them she loves them, and all three take solace in the fact... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 6
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...new shoes to wear. On her first morning of school, she gathers with Mago and Carlos in the courtyard to salute the flag and watch the color guard perform a march.... (full context)
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At lunchtime, Reyna meets up with Mago and Carlos. They watch as their classmates buy food from women selling enchiladas and taquitos at the... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 7
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Mago brings the box inside and she, Carlos, and Reyna tear it open. It is filled with clothes and shoes for all three... (full context)
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Mago, Carlos, and Reyna decide to wear the ill-fitting clothes and shoes anyway, and they set off... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 9
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...and crafts to give as gifts to their mothers. On the walk home from school, Carlos, Reyna, and Mago compare the crafts they made in each of their classes, and Mago... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 10
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One afternoon, Mago, Carlos, and Reyna hurry to carry water home from the town well—Emperatriz has promised to take... (full context)
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Reyna, Mago, and Carlos travel by taxi with their mother to Abuelita Chinta’s house, a bamboo shack covered with... (full context)
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...begins crying, unsure of why she still feels empty inside when her mother has returned. Carlos comes over and expresses excitement that everything will soon go back to normal, but Reyna... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 11
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...resort called La Quinta Castrejón, the only place in town “immune to the recession.” Mago, Carlos, and Reyna accompany their mother there most nights, waiting outside in the cold with cigarettes,... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 12
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...walks her home. One night, there is no sign of Crece, and Abuelita Chinta sends Carlos to go retrieve Mami and walk her home. A while later, though, Mami comes home... (full context)
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In the morning, Carlos is still in a bad mood. That evening, Abuelita Chinta sends the three children out... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 13
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Shortly after Mami leaves, Carlos falls terribly ill. He has a high fever and terrible headaches, and vomits often. He... (full context)
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Carlos misses over a month of school, and his grades plummet. Once he is well enough... (full context)
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Later that evening, Crece and Carlos return home dirty and sweaty, but happy. They have brought home a bounty of food.... (full context)
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...is in a bad mood the whole time, and even takes his rage out on Carlos. When Tío Mario and Tio Crece go out drinking one night, Crece’s madness is exacerbated... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 14
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One afternoon in June of 1983, Abuelita Chinta makes hot chocolate for Reyna, Mago, and Carlos before going out in the rain to visit her daughter, Tía Güera, whose baby daughter... (full context)
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...her. That evening, Abuelita Chinta stays at Gary’s house to pray while Reyna, Mago, and Carlos go home. Reyna cannot sleep, and asks Mago to tell her a story. Mago tells... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 15
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...stingy about food or money, and often goes without eating so that Reyna, Mago, and Carlos can be fed. (full context)
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Behind La Quinta Castrejón, there is a mango grove. Carlos and his friends begin stealing mangoes from the grove so that he and his sisters... (full context)
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Abuelita Chinta sends Carlos and Reyna to the train station towards the end of Mago’s shift to collect her... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 16
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...as she has one of the only phones around. Caro tells Abuelita, Reyna, Mago, and Carlos that Mami and her boyfriend have been in a car accident—Mami only has some cuts... (full context)
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...government is giving away parcels of land nearby to anyone who occupies it. Mami, Mago, Carlos, Betty, and Reyna all set off for a meadow on the other side of a... (full context)
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...while, but when everyone starts complaining about feeling hungry and tired, Mami takes everyone but Carlos back to Abuelita Chinta’s. She urges Carlos not to move from their spot, lest they... (full context)
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For days, Carlos remains on the staked-out land with the other squatters while Mami brings him scraps of... (full context)
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One day, Carlos’s cough has become so bad that the other squatters complain to Mami when she comes... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 17
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One afternoon, Reyna and Carlos pick Mago up from the train station. Mago marvels at how many people are travelling... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 18
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...few months later, during celebrations in the days leading up to Christmas, Reyna, Mago, and Carlos travel to the wealthy part of town and receive gifts from their far-away neighbors there.... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 19
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Papi hugs Mago and Carlos and then beckons Reyna to him, too. He hugs her briefly and then introduces them... (full context)
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Reyna, Carlos, and Mago spend the night at Evila’s house. In the morning, Papi shaves Carlos’s hair... (full context)
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The next day, Papi sits Reyna, Carlos, and Mago down and announces that though he’s leaving in a few days, he has... (full context)
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...Mago speaks up and says that she won’t go with Papi unless Reyna goes, too. Carlos adds his voice and begs to go along as well. Papi relents, and promises that... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 20
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From Chula Vista, right on the other side of the border, Papi, Reyna, Carlos, and Mago pile into a truck that will take them to Los Angeles. The children... (full context)
Book Two: Prologue
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On a day in early September of 2011, Papi’s doctor tells Mago, Reyna, and Carlos that it is time to let their father go. Reyna is reluctant to do so—the... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 1
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...the United States for three months. Reyna is about to start the fifth grade, while Carlos will be in seventh and Mago will be in eighth. They do not speak a... (full context)
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At bedtime, Mago, Reyna, and Carlos pull out the sofa bed in the living room where they have been sleeping (as... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 2
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...by the sound of Papi yelling. He is standing over their sofa bed, screaming at Carlos for having had an accident in the night. Papi picks Carlos up and drags him... (full context)
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...wrong, he simply needs some time to readjust to being a full-time father. Mila makes Carlos a ghost costume out of a sheet and allows Mago to wear her old wedding... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 4
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...makes spaghetti for dinner. Reyna hates spaghetti—it reminds her of the roundworms she, Mago, and Carlos had to get out of their systems when they became infested with the parasites back... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 5
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Never having had a TV in Mexico, in El Otro Lado, Reyna, Carlos, and Mago become obsessed with television. One day, near Christmastime, they are watching cartoons when... (full context)
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Two weeks later, none of their presents from “Santa Claus” have arrived, and Mago, Carlos, and Reyna are still nervous about finding something for Papi. They decide to shoplift from... (full context)
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...with theirs. Reyna gets a pair of tennis shoes, Mago gets a pretty dress, and Carlos gets a Tonka truck. The gifts from Santa Claus never arrive, and Reyna lies awake... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 6
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The following week, Carlos—not Mago—comes to pick Reyna up from Mrs. Giuliano’s after school. He explains that Mago isn’t... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 8
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...few days later, though, Mago tells Reyna that Pepe and his friends called her and Carlos “wetbacks” as they were walking home from school, and her crush ends as quickly as... (full context)
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Carlos, too, is in love with a girl named María. Carlos is extremely shy and self-conscious... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 10
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Carlos wants to go see Mami, but Papi is outraged that he would want to see... (full context)
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As the weeks go by, Reyna and Carlos continue begging Papi to let them see Mami. The more they ask, though, the more... (full context)
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Once Tia Güera and Betty arrive in the U.S., Reyna and Carlos at last convince Papi to let them go see Mami. They tell him that it’s... (full context)
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...person her mother has become—and how little space there is in her life for Reyna, Carlos, and Mago. (full context)
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Mago, Reyna, and Carlos slowly get used to their new “double lives.” Papi and Mami refuse to be in... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 11
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Papi constantly tries to impress upon Reyna, Mago, and Carlos how important an education is. He tells them that without one, they won’t be able... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 12
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...red. He announces that he is never returning to Mexico again. When Mago, Reyna, and Carlos ask him what happened, he says that Abuela Evila is ill and frail—Emperatriz basically swindled... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 15
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...her is looking forward to the milestone. One afternoon, a few days before Reyna’s birthday, Carlos doesn’t come home on time from the park where he’s gone to play with his... (full context)
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Papi yells at Carlos for going to the park in the first place, and then cracks a beer and... (full context)
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In the morning, Papi still refuses to take Carlos to the hospital. Reyna and Mago beg Mila to take him, but she won’t defy... (full context)
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Carlos comes home later that evening with his leg in a cast, having broken two major... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 16
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After Carlos’s accident, things change between Mago and Papi. Where Mago once brought home her checks at... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 18
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...prom, Papi comes home one day with an old yellow Datsun he has purchased for Carlos. Carlos is elated, and the two of them immediately head out for a drive. Mago... (full context)
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Carlos has a girlfriend whose name is Griselda, and he is crazy about her. One day,... (full context)
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Mago and Reyna, too, try to talk Carlos out of the marriage, but he won’t listen to his sisters, either. Eventually, Carlos enlists... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 20
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...to college—he predicts that she is going to be a failure, just like Mago and Carlos, and doesn’t want to “even bother” sending her to school. Reyna begs her father to... (full context)
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...UC Irvine. Because she’s underage, there is nothing she can do. Over the summer, both Carlos and Mago announce that they are soon going to have children. Mago calls Reyna and... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 23
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...large sum of money from their savings account and files a restraining order against him. Carlos begs Reyna to return home and help Papi, but Reyna refuses. A few days later,... (full context)
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...to resolve his legal troubles with Mila. When an argument erupts between Mila, Mago, and Carlos, Mila calls the children “leeches” and says they’d still be “wetbacks” if it weren’t for... (full context)
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...back home—but there is a condition to her return. She doesn’t want Reyna, Mago, or Carlos around. Reyna is sickened to learn that her father has agreed to this condition, and... (full context)
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...Diana’s house for the last few days before her trip up to UC Santa Cruz. Carlos and Mago are furious, and proclaim that they will never speak to their father again.... (full context)
Book Two: Epilogue
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...her forgiveness. The day before her thirty-sixth birthday, she stands over his hospital bed with Carlos and Mago as his life-support machines are turned off. She holds her father’s hand, and... (full context)