Drown: A Consideration Essay

This essay has a total of 1512 words and 5 pages.

Drown: A Consideration

In Drown, a collection of short stories, author Junot Diaz presents readers with an
impoverished group of characters through harsh, but vivid language. Through the voice of
Yunior, the narrator throughout the majority of the stories, Diaz places the blame for
Yunior's negativity and rebellious nature on the disappointment caused by his father and
the childhood illusion of America. Diaz, through language and symbolism, forces readers
into an emotional bond with Yunior while exposing the illusory nature of the American
dream. Although intertwined with each story, "Fiesta, 1980" allows for a more concise
discussion of Diaz's purpose. Diaz's language, even at first glance, appears very
different from conventional authors:Mami's younger sister- my tia Yrma-finally made it to
the United States that year. She and Tio Miguel got themselves an apartment in the
Bronx…He didn't say nothing to nobody. (Drown, 23)Two aspects, his Spanish interjections
into the text and his tendency to disregard English rules of grammar, surface in the
opening of "Fiesta, 1980." Yunior's narratives contain Spanish words an average of about
every other sentence. Diaz uses them to keep readers aware of Yunior's culture and
homeland, attempting to stop the "stifling" effect America often has on immigrants'
cultures. Also, Yunior's rejection of the norms of English writing, evident in the phrases
"got themselves" and "nothing to nobody" in the above quote, gives his narratives a
certain rebellious quality. Not only does he rebel against America's tendency to smother
cultural values but rebelling against American rules in general, even the rules of
grammar. Diaz continues his grammatical attack on the United States' rules with his lack
of quotation marks:Papi pulled me to my feet by my ear.If you throw up-I wont I cried,
tears in my eyes…Ya, Ramon, ya. It's not his fault, Mami said.All of the conversations
are printed in the manner above, without any quotation marks and sometimes even a new
paragraph to indicate another speaker. Diaz successfully attacks the United States in
Yunior's defense, but through language style rather than blatant statements.Yunior's
narration, besides being a political one, also appears very negative, but also extremely
personal. His voice is conversational, which has a powerful effect:…trooped back into
the living room with their plates a-heaping and all the adults ducked back into the living
room, where the radio was playing loud-ass bachatas. (Drown, 37)In the above quote Yunior
invents the words a-heaping and loud-ass, but the reader understands what he means.
Yunior's casual wording, essential to the tone, creates the illusion that the reader knows
him personally and thus demands an emotional response to his suffering. His negativity,
undoubtedly stemming from a combination of his father's abuse and the false hopes of
America, adds to the story's sense of intimacy:A third-world childhood could give you
that…he found me sitting on the couch feeling like hell…I wasn't that sort of son.
(Drown, 25, 29)Yunior's frequent references to his difficult childhood and his current
discomforts, "third world", "like hell", "that sort of son" in the above excerpts; never
allow the reader a moment's relief from what he experiences. Diaz, having established a
"close relationship" between reader and narrator, expects the reader to experience all of
this simultaneously with Yunior. The reader suffers a let down in discovering Yunior's
unhappiness. Diaz creates the effect with language to contrast the reader's disappointment
with Yunior's.Once again regarding Diaz's language style, vulgarity and blatant phrases as
well as cultural references add to the power of the story:He was looking at her like she
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