Class in Junot Diaz's Drown Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1272 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Literature

Diaz Drown

The Inaccessible American Dream According to Diaz

The lives of immigrants to the United States are marked by struggle, poverty and a most palpable sense of disappointment over the obstacles that have marked their arrival here. Particularly for the countless families traveling to the United States from Latin America, departure from one kind of extreme poverty has begotten a new kind of misery in our urban slums. Indeed, this experience and context are the backdrops for the collection of ten short stories which comprise Junot Diaz's 1996 compilation, Drown. The title apprises us of the experiences contained within the text, which center on the realities facing Dominican families attempting to adjust to life in the new country. This implies a certain sense of a collective population as being in over its head here, and desperately gasping just to break above the surface. This is the sentiment which unifies the collection, along with its frequent recounting of the experiences of protagonist Yunior. Through Junior in particular and through the entire collection of stories, Diaz draws a devastating portrait of the American Dream as something not just inaccessible to immigrant populations but also something sinister which promises comforts upon which it simply cannot deliver. At the heart of his collection is Diaz's assertion that economic, ethnic and linguistic conditions have conspired to prevent the ascendancy of Latin American immigrants toward the achievement of the American dream.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Class in Junot Diaz's Drown Assignment

The stories are largely told through the perspective of young male narrators, whether Yunior or some other unnamed individual of comparable age and experience. As such, they go a long distance in painting a portrait of life for the demographic most directly impacted by violence, crime, gang activity, drug dealing and incarceration. As all of these elements help to paint the broader portrait of the text, it is noteworthy that the experiences of these various narrators are drawn as a counterpoint to the lives of otherwise more comfortable and ethnically mainstream Americans. Gates (1996) describes this otherness. In a New York Times review, the critic asserts that "all these narrators -- indeed, all Mr. Diaz's major characters -- feel at a remove from whatever their surroundings may be. In "Fiesta, 1980," the partly assimilated Yunior sneeringly describes his relatives' apartment in the Bronx as "furnished in Contempory Dominican Tacky.' Conversely, the narrator of "Edison, New Jersey,' who delivers pool tables to homes in upscale suburbs, marvels at such exotic specimens as 'ladies in slacks and silk tops' with 'court case names: Wooley, Maynard, Gass, Binder.' And the voice Mr. Diaz has devised for Yunior, an unstable compound of demotic Spanish, white teen-speak and black street talk, is exactly right for a kid uncomfortably feeling his way among his several worlds." (Gates)

Many of the experiences described here are drawn directly from the author's personal experiences, such as the violence visited upon him by his real life father as portrayed in "Fiesta, 1980." Here, Diaz describes a certain routinization to being beaten by his father, indicating that "Papi was old-fashioned; he expected your undivided attention when you were getting your ass whupped." (Diaz) the same is true of "Aguantando," a chapter directly inspired by the fact that the author's father abandoned his family when he was young, leaving his mother to raise he and his brother in a state of destitution. Not only are these details drawn from the author's real experiences, but they carry a certain universality for immigrant families, their themes all too familiar in their respective struggles.

Even those selections of the text which are underscored by a certain humor and which are made compelling by the author's casual deliver are still brimming with the insecurity, shame and humiliation inherent to immigrant poverty. These include connections to culture and the old country as demonstrated in the chapter "How… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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