Why did Reyna have to cut her hair short in The Distance Between Us? How do we know Carlos is suffering too? What do you think would be most difficult about this experience?

In The Distance Between Us, Reyna has to get her hair cut because it is infested with lice. Evidence of Carlos's suffering is his transformation from a loving boy to a rebellious young man.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Reyna has to have her long, beautiful curls cut off because she, along with Mago and Carlos, has lice. While Reyna and Mago are taken to the hair salon for their haircuts, Carlos's hair is shaved at Evila's house by Papi.

I would argue that while Carlos's suffering is different to Reyna's, it should not be considered a lesser form of suffering. To start with, he is a shy, awkward boy who is incredibly self-conscious about his crooked teeth. The quiet, reserved boy is regularly dragged into the arguments which ensue between his sisters, and all he wants is peace within his family. He is initially a graceful and forgiving boy, but evidence of Carlos's suffering is seen in his transformation into a rebellious and impulsive young man.

The situation in which Reyna, Carlos, and their siblings find themselves in is so horrific that it's hard to pinpoint what would be most difficult about this experience. After enduring abuse and harsh discipline in Mexico, they have to endure starting a new life in the US illegally while being cared for by an abusive alcoholic father and a neglectful stepmother. Nothing in life came easy for these siblings. For Reyna, I would argue, the hardest thing of all may have been having her father support her brothers, but not her, in attending college.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial