The Distance Between Us

by Reyna Grande

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What are some examples of figurative language in The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande?

Quick answer:

Reyna Grande uses similes and metaphors to describe the distance that separates her from her family.

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Mago touched my belly button and added something to the story my mother had never told me. She said that my umbilical cord was like a ribbon that connected me to Mami. She said, "It doesn't matter that there's a distance between us now. That cord is there forever."

In this first quotation, Reyna's older sister, Mago, tries to comfort Reyna by telling her that there will always be a connection between her and their mother, even when their mother is far away. Mago uses a simile, comparing the umbilical cord to "a ribbon" that would always connect Reyna to her mother—not literally, but figuratively. As Mago says, no matter what happens, that connection between a mother and her child "is there forever."

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.

In this second quotation, Reyna reflects on how her parents have changed since moving from Mexico to America. She imagines that her parents had, metaphorically, "lost themselves" in the "no-man's land" around the border. The parents she has now are not the parents she remembers, and it's easier for her sometimes to reconcile herself to this fact by imagining that her real parents still exist somewhere, and might, one day, make their way back to her.

"Papi, if it's just land, why can't we take the bus all the way there. Why must we walk across?"

"Because we don't have papers, Carmen. And even though it is just land, it represents a wall. We must go like thieves."

In this third quotation, Papi uses a simile to describe him and his children as "like thieves." The implication is that by trying to cross the border into America, they are made to feel like they are stealing something. They are made to feel like criminals who are inflicting an injury upon the Americans on the other side of the border.

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