What is making Rafaela grow old in The House on Mango Street? Who is Rapunzel, and why does Rafaela dream of having hair like hers?
In the chapter titled "Rafaela Who Drinks Coconut and Papaya Juice on Tuesdays," Esperanza narrates the story of Rafaela, a young woman who is married to a controlling man. Esperanza says that Rafaela is growing old because her husband forbids her to leave her home, and thus she feels like all her youth is being taken away from her. She watches other people from her window and wishes that she, like them, could go dancing and have friends. Instead, she sits at her window watching all her dreams slip away.
Esperanza compares Rafaela to Rapunzel, a fairy tale character who is trapped in a high tower and cannot escape. One day she lets her incredibly long hair fall out the window so that a prince can climb up her hair to rescue her. Esperanza makes this comparison to suggest that Rafaela also wants someone to rescue her from the dungeon of her home and her controlling husband.