11. Miguel Muñoz’s Zigzagger


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1. READ: Manuel Muñoz, “Zigzagger” (p. 5 – 19), “The Unimportant Lila Parr” (p. 36 – 46), “Good as Yesterday” (p. 120 – 142) from Zigzagger (PDF)
2. READ: “Shifting the Site of Queer Enunciation: Manuel Muñoz and the Politics of Form” by Ernesto Javier Martínez in Gay Latino Studies: A Critical Reader
3. PRESENTATION: Chris Richard & Imaani Cain

11 Responses to 11. Miguel Muñoz’s Zigzagger

  1. Amber Jones says:

    Pages 5-19

    In first reading this I was confused as to what was occurring. I understood that the parents’ son was severely sick but I was confused as to what made him this way. As I was reading I realized that we never truly figure out what the cause of his sickness. We actually only could make insinuations. I insinuated that the young man had sex with the man with the silver buckle. But what confused me the most is what caused his rapid sickness? It stated that he came home vomiting and having convulsions, did the man have drug him or was this just the aftermath of his guilt and shame? When he stood in the hallway of his home in front of his parents and friends he possessed an immense amount of insecurities, “ he wonders if he will sound different; he wonders if they will see how he carries himself now; he remembers how feeling the furrow of the man’s back reminded him of the hard work of picking grapes in the summer months- his father will punish him with it” (17). It was evident through his feelings that he has not come to terms yet with his sexual identity, this makes me relate it back to what we spoke about in class about how a disease has the capability to consume your identity. In this case I believe that the people you have intimate relations with becomes apart of whom you are and since he was not comfortable with himself he was not ready to accept that part of himself. “ The boy knows what he has done, what has happened, and yet, deep inside, he believes it could not have been. He thinks back to the man in the black clothes and the silver buckle, the offered beer, and the few words they spoke” (16). I found it ironic how although the young man did not accept what he did and how he did not even accept himself but his mother did. It was evident that his mother loved and accepted him for him but she too was very cautious of outside perceptions, she knew she could not go to the church or the doctor because the town was very judgmental. We in the very beginning we see how the churchgoers of the town are judgmental and gossip. I believe in order to avoid the gossip the both the mother and son want to keep everything a secret. Some may say the mere fact of the mother telling her son she knows what happens is good enough butt I believe it is not good enough, “I know, I know, and then bravely without waiting to hear what his voice might sound like, tries to pry open his mouth and check for herself “ (19). Although she still accepted her son that was only half the battle the fact that she told him so quickly she knows and not wanting to hear his voice exposes her reluctant of truly coming to terms with her son completely.

    • Hey Amber,
      Yes, I do believe that the man with the silver buckle not only gave him alcohol but also must have drugged it (roofies?) as well. It struck me as confusing as well, because it wasn’t very explicit. But so it goes. It also struck me as peculiar when he stood in his underwear in front of all of his friends and his parents, and the immense amount of insecurities that he stood there with. My question is: how did the mom “Know” what had happened? What were the signs? Was she talking about the sex with the man with the silver buckle, or just that he had a rough night all together? Also, prying his mouth open to see for herself is an odd idiom, but it dies tie back into not “saying things out loud.”

      • Imaani Cain says:

        I wasn’t sure if the man with the silver buckle drugged it or not, but that’s an interesting idea. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was consensual (because consent can be negated if one or more of the parties are inebriated)–but the “not saying things out loud” makes sense when tied in with the mom opening his mouth, which is a common theme with the other stories as well. it’s not so much what is explicitly said as is the subtext.

      • crestrepo1991 says:

        Thats a very interesting point you bring up. I dont think it was necessarily a roofie but I think he definitely put something in his drink, because the vibes the young boy gives out are ones of shame, pain, and regret rather than confusion (which is indeed present since he is unsure of his identity and sexual orientation

      • Romy Garcia says:

        I was completely confused when I read this. I assumed that he got drugged with the alcohol because I have never seen, heard or read alcohol have those kinds of side effects, or make you do crazy things like that. I felt like the mom did not know what happen so in order to confirm and not make him feel any more shame, she checked him mouth. Saying things out loud could have made things worse.

      • John Wilkinson says:

        Not to further complicate the reading, but consent and participation in the sex is confusing as well. The implied alcohol and drugging, which I think occurred, obviously remove total consent from being an option. During the act of sex, however, the boy reciprocates by running his hands down the man’s spine and seemingly allowing him to penetrate him. It certainly can’t be seen as consent, but with the boy’s already complex identity, the complexity of potential active, even if drugged, participation is there.

  2. crestrepo1991 says:

    Similar to some of the past stories we have read so far, the main theme present is an individual’s personal struggle in regards to coming to terms and accepting his/herself identity and sexual orientation, in this case a young boy, but what makes this case special is we can see how such struggles can have a negative effect physically as well. We can see this first hand in the reading after the young boy’s encounter with the man wearing the silver buckle, when he begins to undergo bouts of vomiting and painful convulsions, which likely occurred as an aftermath of the silver buckled man situation (as possibly the man drugged the drinks he gave the boy). But throughout his painful ordeal we bear witness of his true feelings, as we can see his feelings of shame and regret.

    What interested me the most was the care and genuine love the mother has for her child, as she is exposed to the young boy’s struggles but rather than judge him she shows him true love and understanding, even to the point where she probably understands his situation more than himself. Its positive role models such as her in which one can truly learn to be accepting of themselves and their identity in general, and it tends to come from close relatives or acquaintances. It is truly a struggle for one to undergo this without any emotional support, so it was nice to see that his mom is truly a kindhearted and caring person in his life, something that he truly needed.

    • Ernie Abreu says:

      I agree with you Strep, caring and nurturing is vital especially in circumstances similar to the one that the young boy is going through. At this point, the internal pain that he has suffered is beyond great, and adding negative support from his mother could have potentially damaged him more. Support from close relatives can help ease the pain that he was feeling and ease the confusion of what has happened, since neither the character nor the audience can truly identify the scenario that just occurred.

      • Romy Garcia says:

        I feel as a mother, she had no other choice. She might have feel a shame for something like this happening to her son, however, what is done is done and nothing can be done to fix it besides giving positive condolences and providing support for him.

    • John Wilkinson says:

      I think what makes things interesting in the story is the father’s role. He seems to be placed in a position of anger and frustration. His frustration comes from being unable to do anything for his child. His anger comes from his belief in what his son got up to the previous night. I also thought it was interesting that the father blames the son’s friends for his condition, rather than the man who is actually responsible. It seems that the father needs someone to blame, someone other than his son, and so turns to the son’s friends.

  3. John Wilkinson says:

    In Manuel Munoz’ “The Unimportant Lila Parr,” there is an interesting approached used that establishes the weight of the son’s death by his lack of presence. In effect, the son’s constant presence, even in death, is established through his marginalization in the story. In fact, his character isn’t announced until halfway through the second page. The plot of the story focuses on the grieving parents, but the object of their grief rarely makes an appearance. The only explicit mentioning of the son is in the record of his death and recounting his childhood. The man is thrown into his work and the wife is associated with shopping. Lila exists as a supporting role to the family and a friend to the son in his childhood, and is revealed as having an affair with the father at the story’s conclusion. The description of their daily routines leaves out any of the son’s involvement, creating the effect that they are distancing themselves, trying to ignore it, or unable to deal with his deal, likely drug addiction, and likely homosexuality.

    When the son does appear, it is as the police recount his death and the evidence or as the narrator recounts his childhood. At work, the father is “so heavily troubled that he has taken to raking the leaves beneath the stunted peach trees” (38). However, what is troubling him is never mentioned except for one line about hearing of his son’s death paragraphs earlier. In the following paragraph, the tress are linked to his son, but as a boy, planting them. Even in referencing the death, it is not his son’s death, but termed “what happened” (39). Even the workers, who don’t show up the next day to give the father space, are communicating their knowledge and awareness through silence. Only during the trip to the coroner is the son’s body and death told in detail. Throughout the story, the revisiting of the son’s childhood and silencing of his death lead toward an understanding of the father in an inability to accept his son’s implied homosexuality and his resulting death.

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