Who is Rapunzel? Why would Rafaela wish that she had hair like Rapunzel's?

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Rapunzel is the main character in a famous fairy tale of the same name written by the Brothers Grimm. In this story, a poor man steals food from the garden of a mean witch to feed his starving wife, and the witch punishes him by taking his young daughter, Rapunzel,...

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Rapunzel is the main character in a famous fairy tale of the same name written by the Brothers Grimm. In this story, a poor man steals food from the garden of a mean witch to feed his starving wife, and the witch punishes him by taking his young daughter, Rapunzel, away from him. When Rapunzel grows up, the evil witch locks her away alone in a tall tower with no stairs or door. The witch climbs up into the tower by using Rapunzel's long golden hair as a rope. In the fairy tale, a young prince promises to save Rapunzel from the witch by using her long golden locks.

Sandra Cisnero's The House on Mango Street is a collection of interrelated vignettes about people living in a fictional Latino neighborhood in Chicago. One vignette in the book is titled "Rafaela Who Drinks Coconut and Papaya Juice on Tuesdays," and it's about a young woman named Rafaela who has a controlling husband. On Tuesdays, Rafaela's husband stays out late playing dominoes, and he locks her in their apartment "because her husband is afraid Rafaela will run away since she is too beautiful to look at" (paragraph 1).

In the vignette, Rafaela "leans out the window and leans on her elbow and dreams her hair is like Rapunzel's" (paragraph 2). Like the famous Rapunzel in the fairy tale, Rafaela is locked away by someone controlling. She has no way out and feels alone. She wishes she had long hair that she could lower to the ground like a rope for someone to climb up to rescue her from her forced confinement. Instead, Rafaela's only connection with the outside world is the group of kids who play below her window. Every Tuesday when her husband is away, Rafaela sends down a dollar attached to a clothesline and asks the kids to buy her juice that reminds her of her past freedom. She drinks the juice "and wishes there were sweeter drinks, not bitter like an empty room, but sweet sweet like the island" (paragraph 4).

Both stories feature women who yearn for freedom because they are physically controlled by a malicious person.

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