8. Junot Diaz’s Drown

TEENAGE MASCULINITIES IN URBAN SETTINGS

March 12
1. READ: Junot Diaz, Drown, “Ysrael” (p. 1-19) & “Drown” (p. 87-107)
2. READ: John Riofrio, “Situating Latin American Masculinity: Immigration, Empathy and Emasculation in Junot Díaz’s Drown
3. PRESENTATION: Iris Foley & Patrick Murphy

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March 14

1. READ: Junot Diaz, Drown, “No Face” (p. 151-160) & “Negocios” (p. 161-208)
2. PRESENTATION: Ernie & Nelson Nelson Veras & Ernie Abreu
3. MIDTERM SELF-EVALUATION DUE IN CLASS

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200 Responses to 8. Junot Diaz’s Drown

  1. ElisePrairie says:

    I found Drown to touch on a lot of the major themes we’ve seen in class up to this point. For example the first relating to violence. In the scene were Rafa attacks the boy to see what is under his mask I’m struck by the complete lack of compassion in the brothers. Similar to “Down These Mean Streets”, the violence begins at a very young age. The violence continues and is seen clearly in the chapter Aurora where Yunior mentions punching her and a worm of blood seeping from her ear. Another theme of poverty is apparent throughout the reading so far, spanning from their childhood in the Dominican up to his drug dealing days on the streets. Mami is very poor when her husband leaves for New York, however even when they are living in Washington Heights the family remains in a state of poverty. Family plays a large role in this novel as well. Aunts, Uncles, and a grandfather a characters intertwined regularly with the main character’s lives. Mami and her sister have a very close relationship and also since Yunior’s abuelo was living with them in the Dominican it is clear that bond is strong as well. Of course Yunior’s father is also sleeping with a woman on the side and it is unclear at this point in the book is Mami is aware of her or not. However the fact that Rafa and Yunior have met her lines up with our past readings when the father has no problem introducing his children to the woman he is clearly cheating with. Yunior has a strained relationship with his father yet a very loving one with his mother. This again mirrors the relationships seen in “Down These Mean Streets” and “Freak”. I find Drown to be very interesting and still eye opening although these same themes reappear.

    • Lauren Todd says:

      I agree with you that we see a lot of reoccurring themes! Another theme is the struggle and adjusting to a new life in a different place. The characters in the story definitely have cultural bias, almost like this cultural shock. Which was not as big as a theme if not any in some of the other pieces. For example, in “Fiesta 1980″ we see how Mami does not like anything American: ” In her mind, American things- appliances, mouthwash, funny looking upholstery- all seemed to have an intrinsic badness about them.” But, this wasn’t the case for all the characters, some actually did favor America and the culture.

      • ElisePrairie says:

        This is a good point. It’s interesting she see’s them as ‘bad’ just because they are from the U.S. yet other characters have highly valued possesions they’ve come to own in the United States as a symbol of success and wealth.

      • Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

        I find this to be a bit comical. Being that they had came from the Dominican Republic everything was so new. It is almost as if she didnt like those things because she didnt want to become use to them. Life in the Dominican Republic is very different and all those things in a way were kind of luxurious. I feel that perhaps she felt as if she used those things if would affect who she was and were she came from. Dominicans are very prideful and anything that they are not use to or familiar with they always associate it as bad and suspicious.

      • Ally Green says:

        I completely agree that Mami’s rejection of these “American things” is an interesting example of the role of culture/ethnicity within the book, particularly (as you pointed out) since this isn’t an overwhelmingly shared reaction to the acculturation process. Given the undeniable influence of culture/ethnicity on conceptions of masculinity in the text (especially for Yunior) I think this example shows the pervasive and extensive nature of cultural identity as paramount in self definition, extending beyond its frequently discussed implications on gender norms.

    • dipali1991 says:

      I agree with you! There are many reoccurring themes in the book “Drown”. One of the themes that is ever present in every book we have read is masculinity. Yunior seems to be struggling with his masculinity in the book “Drown” as well. One main part where this struggle is shown to the reader is when is knows that his father is cheating on his mother with another women. but he choses not to say anything. To me, this shows loyalty as well as masculinity because I feel like Yunior feels that he is being more of a man by keeping it a secret from his mom. I feel that Yunior is struggling with what his father is doing, because he knows it is wrong, but would feel like his is less of a man if he ever was disloyal to his father and told his mother about the cheating. I absolutely disagree with his type of loyalty and think that Yunior should’ve told his mother what his father was doing right away.

      • Ashton Haga says:

        I think this is an interesting way to look at masculinity. However, was Yunior being loyal to his father and protective of his mother by not telling about his father’s affair or was Yunior being cowardly and wanting to avoid confrontation? I think Yunior’s motivation is really what would characterize this as masculine or not. We know in the past that Yunior has had a rocky relationship with his father (for example, when his father would not let him eat at his aunt’s house because Yunior would throw up in the car) so was Yunior not telling his mother because he did not want to be the object of his father’s anger and violence or was it truly out of love for his mother?

      • I agree with what Ashton said. On one end one can argue that from a very young age Yunior has seen that it is “cool” to get with many different girls (from his brother). Yet I think that the reasoning is two-fold, one part is that Yunior was afraid to tell on his father and the other being that he didn’t want see his mother get hurt. I think that the latter definitely comes through when (he is older and living in the apartment with his mother) his mother is on the phone with his father and he hangs the phone up without giving his father a chance.

      • Ally Green says:

        While I can definitely understand the argument that Yunior’s decision not to tell his mother about his father’s affair is a protective act rather than a reinforcing demonstration of masculinity, I have to agree that his silence is an observation of traditional masculinity rather than compassion. Sure, Yunior may construe his father’s affair as wrong but I think this demonstrates his struggle to honor and fulfill the expectations of him as a Latino man. His struggle, actually, in my opinion, is used to shed light on the difficulty of maintaining a masculine identity, which is socioculturally constructed rather than innate. His decision to remain silent even despite his internalized feelings of guilt or anger for his father is really the ultimate sign of loyalty to a broader cultural masculine identity that he seeks to embody across his internal/external growth as a Dominican man. On this note, keeping such information from his mother, the closest woman to him in many ways, embodies, what can be an arduous task, of being a “real man.”

    • Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

      I agree with the similarities we see in Freak and Down these Mean Streets. Honestly, this is my first time reading any Hispanic literature. Is all Hispanic literature going to have the same themes or will we get to see many different genres like we get to experience in American literature. I don’t want to sterotype this literature and only begin to expect to hear about drugs, domestic violence and broken families and realtionships. How about some real Hispanic romance or happy ending stories, or some educational achievements?

      • montanabeutler says:

        I think it is difficult to find these “happy stories” written in english, because much hispanic literature is written in spanish, such as romantic stories. However, I do agree that a stereotype could be made based on what we have seen about hispanic communities. Perhaps this is some of the only things out there because of the audience, people want to hear about hardships, or even sometimes we enjoy reading about things that back up our generalities about a culture. Raising Victor Vargas was a refreshing story for this class, because it was a good coming of age story many people could relate to.

      • There are the happy endings in Hispanic/Latino literature out there. I agree with what Montana said, it’s possible that these pieces of literture have made it into the mainstream because they capture what readers want to see/hear.

      • Katheryn Maldonado says:

        I agree with Montana and Natasha, the Hispanic and Latino literature that has become popular has a very negative connotation. The reason is not only because the stories coincide with the reality of what is going on in the Hispanic communities, but also for pure entertainment. People don’t want to see the same happy story, people are more entertained by sadness and hard times.

      • Ally Green says:

        Such a valid point. Especially after reading the texts for this class it’s easy to note the recurring, relatively depressing nature of the literature. This being said, I think that the struggle of the protagonists is probably the best way to embody issues surrounding traditional gender norms and masculinity/femininity. Not to be cynical or close minded, but happy endings to these stories (or the use of alternative Latin literature, i.e. romances, as Montana noted) most likely wouldn’t communicate the complexity of masculinity as is necessary. At the same time, the perpetuation of this literature could definitely communicate a widespread negative message about Latino life/culture if these themes come to define Latino life for the American audience.

    • Melissa Calderon says:

      I liked that you pointed out that Mami was poor when her husband left to New York. She works really hard to get by and sometimes has to send her sons to stay with relatives. I feel like it turned into the stereotypical story with the single mother. What I found weird was that this family was struggling but yet after they moved to the United States with their father Mami stayed at home with the kids, becoming a housewife. Also though their father was absent for some years in Yunior and Rafa life he had a big influence on them, mostly fear. The first half of the book ends with learning that Mami if left alone again and working as a housecleaner, while her husband is in Florida.

      • Ally Green says:

        Mami’s role in the book is of particular interest to me. As Melissa pointed out, after arriving in the United State, Mami remains at home to take care of the children. This act in and of itself is a tangible example of the role of traditional gender roles/norms and the application of these concepts to the family’s experiences across the acculturation process. As a psychology major, the effects of the acculturation process of immigrants is something I have examined in several of my classes.
        According to research on Latin women (in relation to the acculturation process), adjusting to family life in the US is particularly difficult as the gender norms/expectations vary cross culturally. Often times, men expect the women to remain domesticated (maybe even more so than in their country of origin) in order to reinforce and reinstate power/control in a new cultural context. This significantly increases the risk of violence and victimization (physical/emotional/etc) among women. Women’s fulfillment of these gender expectations generally allows for this “abuse” to continue long term. Mami’s ignorance of her husband’s affair came to mind immediately when I considered this research in the context of the book. Though debatable, it’s my opinion that she was aware of his actions, even if she refused to admit them to herself. If this was indeed the case, then her silence is an example of her conformity to her role as a traditional Latin woman. On the other hand, her eventual abandonment by her husband (forcing her into the work force) is a demonstration of her personal acculturation process as she gains an arguably stronger identity and purpose through the financial support she provides herself/her sons.

    • I feel that this was a good book to read because it’s a story that many of us may relate to especially being a minority growing up in inner cities you see a lot of the things that the main character went through in real life. that is why i really enjoyed reading this book because it hit home and I could relate to it

    • Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

      I also agree with what you have stated that there are a lot of reoccuring themes in the novels that we have read. Such as violence, drug use or sale, poverty etc. It seems to be the lifestyle that these Latinos fall into which in my opinion is why even in todays world they are still connected to. I was also struck when Rafa attacked the other boy just to see what his face looked like. There was no type of respect for other peoples space or privacy, perhaps it can be do to the lack of education and morals that he was never taught. Being Dominican myself, my family always stressed how important respect was and it clearly seems that Rafa was lacking that as well as his brother.

  2. arussell11 says:

    Drown has definitely been an interesting read so far. One thing that has be consistent with the texts and examples of Latino lifestyle has been family. This is important, not only to understand the culture, but to understand the stereotypes and portrayal of this group that is reinforced in our society. In Drown, we see several examples of the importance of family, but we also see the abuses that occur such as the maltreatment and objectification of women through sexual encounters. “The summer I was nine, Rafa would shot whole afternoons talking about whatever chica he was getting with–not that the campo girls gave up ass like girls back in the Capital but kissing them, he told me, was pretty much the same” (Diaz 5).

    This portrayal impacts the way in which Latinos are perceived but this also impacts things on a larger scale. For example, if you were to look at a Coke commercial that is marketed towards middle-class, White Americans, it would be very different than that which is marketed towards Latino families. Most marketers hone in on things that stand out about that particular culture, and identity in order to relate to them. What it comes down to is making sure that the way in which we portray ourselves and our people is an accurate representation of an entire group. Do we believe that Drown is a good representation of this culture?

    • montanabeutler says:

      I’m not sure if I agree with your analogy about marketing having to do with Drown as representing a culture. I would say that yes, marketers try to attract a certain demographic with their ads, but I don’t think that this is a true representation of the culture. Ads in mass media are usually a representation of what that culture values, and sadly in America most of the time that is eternal youth, sexuality, strength etc. Mass media and novels such as Drown are showing very different views. You pose a good question though, because as we talked about in class today, are these accounts of latino men a representation of the whole culture? I do not think so. I have known many latino men throughout my life, and they were all hard working, good family men who didn’t suffer from substance abuse or abuse of women. Perhaps these accounts are just interesting stories of a section of Latino boys and men living in america and chasing after, in very roundabout ways, the american dream.

    • misharo says:

      Drown by Junot Diaz is a very sick novel. It is chalk filled with the gripping topics we have discussed in class in regards to other novels. As we progress in class it is easier to pick up on when these topics are being introduced. There are very obvious themes of infidelity, homosexuality, violence, drugs, sex sex sex etc. In the first scenes of the novel Yunior explains or depicts Rafa as a horny young boy. He’s always talking about the campo girls “if he was lucky they let him put it in their mouths or in their asses” When I read this my eyes almost popped out of my head. I did not expect this and from this point on the rest of the implications of Rafa are as such.

      The Family perspective is also interesting because once again we are introduced to a very subtle mother just as in other novels we read. Submissive to her man and didn’t do much of the discipline when it came to her children. The boys were afraid of their father because he “hit hard as a mother*&*&” Yet the difference in this book is the role of the mother seemed to be more important or prevalent than in other books such as the Rain God or Down these Mean Streets. When their father abandoned them and left them with false promises of sending for them in the states, the mother was struggling to make ends meet. She was the hard worker, the roles are almost reversed.
      The relationship between Yunior and his father reminds me of Piri and his father. Although Yunior was afraid of his father he was always looking for his attention. He loved when his father took him out on drives to try to get him used to the van so he wouldn’t get sick. This was the only “intimate” time he really had with his father.

      There are two different themes offered in terms of sexuality. The first instance is a disgusting one, which an old man tries to “help” Yunior by getting food stain out of his pants but “then he was pinching at the tip of his pinga through his pants.” Yunior’s reaction to this was in rage shouting obscenities at the old man. This is contrary to his reaction of his friends Beto’s advanced. I don’t necessarily attribute this to him being homosexual because he did state that his relationship with Beto was very important to him.

      • Lauren Todd says:

        Misharo you’re funny and I completely agree that in many ways it was a very sick! I was also really disturbed by the quote, “if he was lucky they let him put it in their mouths or in their asses.” My jaw dropped too! And with the old man and Yunior ugh I gagged! And with the old man he probably took his advances as a pedophile not even as a gay advance. Which is unlike Beto because that was a same sex advance not a pedophile one!

      • montanabeutler says:

        I also agree with you about how blatantly Diaz made his characters’ sexualities. However, we see this only from the viewpoint of the men in the novel, as even Aurora is pawned off as an object of Yunior and Cut’s sexual whims. It is interesting to see how even the author doesn’t reveal anything about a woman’s experience of sex acts through his characters, but rather focuses on how men’s actions and experiences are central in this arena.

      • anadiezcanseco says:

        This is interesting, how you bring up the fact that the only intimacy he had with his father was in the car yet Yunior got sick every time. It really was hard for him to have a “good” intimate time with his father, because he could not bare with the fact he had to look at him in the face knowing he had another woman in another place, he could not stand it so it made him sick and he threw up.

      • Ashton Haga says:

        I found it interesting that this book, like Down These Mean Streets, also had the theme of craving attention from their father. As you mentioned, both books have the main character that both loves and wants the attention of his father, but at the same time dislikes the way their father treats them. Perhaps this is because many of the stories we have read show the father as a very authoritarian parent. This parenting style leaves little room for affection because it is so focused on discipline and control. However, this type of parenting is affective in a dangerous neighborhood/lifestyle because it teaches children how to survive from an early age. Thus, while it is unfortunate that most of the characters wer are reading about lack a relationship with their father, it may be a necessity to survive in such a harsh atmosphere.

      • arussell11 says:

        I agree with your analysis and thought that it was crazy how blatant and raw Diaz was with categorizing and depicting his characters. It was definitely an interesting portrayal of masculinity. In this book, we see a lot of stereotypes and expectations presented about men which makes this unique.

    • Lima James says:

      I agree with you in that the book, like the others we’ve read in class, portrays the Latino lifestyle. Especially putting emphasis on the family lifestyle. How the children are treated by their parents, as well as how the siblings treat each other and such. From the various reading, and especially this one, we can see through the relationship of the two brothers that being the badass is more important and makes them more superior than being a good individual morally. We see this especially when they go after the boy to see his face under the mask, like Elise said before there is a lack of compassion and lack of moral values. Also when they boy ride the bus without paying and claiming they paid, the many examples portray this throughout the book.

      • Ally Green says:

        In regards to what you said about the importance of being a “bad ass,” I think this sort of message serves two functions in the story. Certainly, it reflects/communicates some of the traditional conceptions of masculinity (i.e. being a badass or lacking compassion make you inherently more masculine or macho). On the other hand, I think it can also be said that this message restricts Latino masculinity, slighting more positive aspects discussed in class and reaffirming the negative through the perseveration of these characteristics situationally throughout the novel (i.e. selling drugs, using women, etc).

    • Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

      I think Drown represents only a portion of Latinos. I’m sure that not all Latinos experience these issues we clearly see in this book. I would assume that there are some Latinos that if they read this book would be upset that the lives they live are not represented. If I may refer to some of the stereotypes we have heard of black people. Not all blacks are lazy, or live subservient lives. During my tenure living in Dallas,TX, I saw plenty of multi-million dollar neighborhood, not homes, all occupied by blacks. Does it mean they are all involved in the drug empire? Certainly not. Rather, just like this book does not do justice to the affluent Hispanics, neither does the media do justice to the affluent blacks. They are a minority of being a minority. I want to read some success stories of Latinos. How they made it, the sacrifices they endured, how they had to fight medias’ mediocratic expectations of them.

      • JessicaRaugitinane says:

        I agree that the media does not portray affluent minorities often, and I also agree that I would like to read more success stories of minorities. I actually was able to read a success story in my other class of Latino literature. We read, “When I Was Puerto Rican” by Esmeralda Santiago, which was a semi-autobiography of the author: a Puerto Rican woman who left Puerto Rico and made it in the U.S. as a Harvard graduate. Although this was a success story of a minority, my professor taught this book as the author betraying or forgetting her roots. As the title suggests, “When I Was Puerto Rican”, the author is no longer Puerto Rican but has assimilated to the U.S. culture. Thus, perhaps Latino literature, or ethnic literature in general, depicts the stereotypical images of minorities since it shows more respect for the community in a way. The characters don’t just try and succeed by leaving and forgetting about their community, they stay within their community and endure the struggles. Although they struggle, maybe we as readers enjoy this more since we see them as facing their obstacles and staying faithful to their culture, rather than running away and betraying their culture and community, leaving them to fend for themselves.

      • Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

        I agree with your comment that only a portion of Latinos are represented. It is unfortunate that some people may read this book without a critical point of view that it focuses on situations and issues that do not necessarily occur in every Latino family. I feel like because we have seen a lot of similarities to Drown in other books it is hard to not assume these are common occurences but we are also focusing on the topics of masculinity and gender. It would be interesting to read about Latinos that are doing positive things in life and not always represented as husbands cheating on wives, young males being overly sexual, strict expectations that affect gender roles, etc.

      • amyhahm says:

        I think it is sad that the media does not portray minorities. Not only in books, but media in general. It reminds me of how the movie, “The Last Airbender” received so much criticism because the main character in the book was an Asian, and they hired a white actor to play his part. It seems as though society blends over backwards to keep minorities in the light.

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      You make a good point about family. In Drown especially, we are shown how although families can be close, they can also have negative effects on the children too. Times in which Yunior should have been shown how to treat a woman positively, he was instead viewing his father cheat on his mother. Now that I’m thinking about this… this could have led to the relationship he had with Aurora. Their relationship definitely was not healthy, which Yunior might have learned from seeing the adult relationships around him while growing up.

  3. montanabeutler says:

    Drown is a dark novel, revealing in its first half the beginnings of a young dominican boy’s experiences growing up in America. We see his family life, his relationship with friends and girlfriends, as being the things that shape him for better or worse. The book is poetic in the way that it deals with time, by bouncing back and forth throughout Yunior’s life we get a dynamic view of how his past affected his future. Violence seems to be a large part of being a man, as the main character sees his brother treat Ysrael with distain, he is clearly moved. Taking advantage of the weak shapes how he sees masculinity, and later in life he treats his girlfriend Aurora in a like fashion. It was strange to me, however, that he seemed to be beating her up as a sign of affection, and yet was disgusted with himself for doing it. Perhaps this was because the only physical touch he ever received from his father was in a violent way, and thus he applied these actions to other intimate relationships he continued to have.
    We also gain insight into a dominican-american family life and how this shapes a boy’s masculinity. Yunior and his brother Rafa seemed to be constantly in fear of their father, and the only time their interactions with him were anything but violent or angry was when he took them to see his mistress. Yunior especially had a close relationship with his mother, always trying to make her smile. This type of family life was remnicient of what we saw from John’s Freak. I’m sure that in no way this type of life is representative of how many latinos grow up, however it does shed light on why many people have a narrow view of Latino masculinity. If these are the stories we are being fed, then it makes sense why when asked, many people would say latino men are violent, cheaters, drug addicts, and womanizers.

    • Jacob Finlan says:

      In everything we’ve read or watched, the son/father dynamic has been pivotal in one way or another. Is it safe to say, based on our readings, that that relationship determines a lot about the way a man turns out?

      • Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

        I would agree with your statement/question. The father-son relationships have had tremendous impact on both characters, moreso the son than the father. If the situations that happen between the two males had been different, how would it shape each individual? Additionally, I think the father-son relationship can hugely influence other members in the family as well.

    • arussell11 says:

      The fact that he beats a woman up in order to show affection may speak to the fact that this is what he grew up seeing. Look at Piri in Down These Mean Streets. He hit Trina yet she was the one that he looked at as a sign of purity and perfection. It is an interesting point, however, that this is how he expresses his love.

    • Lima James says:

      Violence and anger seems to be a big theme in the readings we have been doing regarding latino masculinity. The children seem to be growing up in a very violent lifestyle as you have already mentioned. The father is always angry, yelling and screaming violently when something is done wrong. As you have said, it does seem to be part of being a man. Like an essential characteristic. The children grow up seeing this and inherit those traits as well, and it seems to be a never ending cycle.

      • I also noticed that Yunior’s father was very manipulative and very into his own personal gain. He borrowed money from his father-in-law even though everyone in town knew that he was cheating, to come to the US then he settled down with another woman. He used the second wife for citizenship and a place to live. He was able to convince people to stay with him even though the evidence was working against him.

    • there really does seem to be a common theme in alot of what we have read, with there being a strained relationship between the father and the son, and the fathers having affairs. If this is how hispanics are portrayed in the media then the average person is going to think that this is how they all are

    • Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

      I agree. Drown is both a dark and sad story. I must say it did bring me back to my younger days because i was also afraid of my father. Your last sentence is the very reason why there needs to be positive movies made about successful latinos that are understanding and compassionate yet made good choices in life and now reap good rewards. We all know of American pride. Even the country song ” I’m proud to be an American” says it all. I believe movies and media can enhance Puerto Rican Pride and other latino pride as well. We just need the right images

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      Intersting point about Yunior beating up his girlfriend as a sign of affection. This must be something that he learned from his father. From working as a domestic violence counselor, children living in homes that either witness abuse or endure abuse themselves surely, but not always, use violence as an outlet of their emotions. This was a good way to connect the relationship between Yunior and his father, and Yunior and Aurora.

  4. Jacob Finlan says:

    In Drown, we once again see a character dealing with balancing the two concepts of masculinity and homosexuality. Yunior finds that, perhaps, he isn’t as masculine as his older brother because he’s a bit more emotional, and he’s not as outgoing with girls, and generally finds himself unable to interact with them as seamlessly as his older brother. His brother, when he’s only 9, is telling him explicit stories of his sexual endeavors – it’s easy to imagine that as Yunior turns 12, he expects that he should be in the same boat, but isn’t. Because he sees masculinity and homosexuality as two polarized options, I believe he finds himself experimenting with his own sexuality to prove to himself one way or the other.

    I thought it was interesting, too, that the two brothers are so violence-prone so early in their lives, BUT I don’t think that we can attribute this to them being Hispanic. I think this is a case of their upbringing being different than your average person’s – being shipped off to their uncle’s, lacking any real guidance from a parent figure, and a general sense of freedom from any authority telling them what to do. They’re able to make their own decisions, so this primal curiosity pushes them to act out violently toward the boy who wears the mask – they don’t have to worry about the repercussions from their parents.

    • Katie Lakotko says:

      I agree with your belief regarding the violence in their lives. It is intriguing that violence is so prominent in their young lives. However, one could argue that although it may not be directly attributed to their Hispanic culture, their different upbringing that you mentioned could be the result of them being Hispanic. As we have discussed before, the factors of their upbringing that you have stated can be stereotypical aspects of the Latino lifestyle. For example, we have noticed that there is a trend in the male characteristics that lead to the absence of father figures in some children’s lives and the father often leaves the family behind in many cases, although this can be found in other groups of people. Therefore, this violence they’ve experienced at such a young age as a result of a lack of authority may be cause indirectly if not directly, by them being Hispanic.

    • Lima James says:

      I believe the same regarding the violence in their lives. I think that it is because of the environment they grew up in and not necessarily because they are Hispanic. They grow up being extremely scared of their father, and then when they are sent off to their uncles, no one if there to tell them what to do, like you said. They are free to do whatever kind of. So being away from their father, and getting that freedom, they become rebellious i think, in that they can do what ever they want and not be scolded by their father.

      • Luis Muniz says:

        I think that the violence in their lives has nothing to do with an absent father, as we have seen in Down These Mean Streets, he turns turns to violence as well but has a father present. I think that the violence in Drown comes from the fact that they dont have much in there lives because they are poor. There is not much for them to be proud of and there is not much else for them to do so they turn to violence, because it gives them tangible results like Yrasel’s face. They did not turn to anything else like education for example, because its hard for them to believe in an education at a young age because they had no books and no pencils; it didn’t give them anything besides embarrassment.

    • Rachel Korb says:

      I agree that there are many expectations for Yunior in terms of sexuality. Even his uncle asserts that he would be having sex if he was still in the Dominican Republic. This pressure must have been difficult for him; he was surrounded by so many expectations of sexuality. His gay experience with his friend must have further complicated his own concept of sexuality.

      • Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

        The experience with the friend most likely confused him far more than he ever had been before because clearly he can’t talk about it, does not want to recognize that it happened, and the older male figures in his life are not going to be sensitive to any questions or feelings he has towards sex and sexuality if he ever did want to discuss it with someone. I also think the comment about what he would be doing in the Dominican Republic negatively represents youth and families from there because it basically says they are more relaxed about young people engaging in sex than the U.S. is.

    • i definately agree that it seems that he is so violent because of his upbringing, not being a latino. Constantly being hurt by his father and being around violence made him think its the norm or that its acceptable.

      • misharo says:

        This is a really important point. The violent background is more related to the upbringing and not so much of being Latino. Yet one can still argue that the upbringing itself is related to having the Latino background.

    • montanabeutler says:

      Much of what we see in america today being marketed toward boys and men is violent. If anyone watched the full version of “Tough Guise,” they have a pretty good montage of movies, commercials, video games, and tv shows that clearly connect violence to being a “real man.” Therefore, like others here have said, it is not only a hispanic background that leads to this type of association of masculinity with violence, but certainly is american as well.

      • amyhahm says:

        I thought even the clip of “Tough Guise” was very intriguing. It was so interesting to watch and learn about how the idea of masculinity influences our society. It was almost sad and frightening to see how men are connected to violence. It really made me question how the American society connects violence into being ‘a man’.

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      I like that you point out that the violence in Yunior and his brother’s lives doesn’t necessarily correlate with them being hispanic. When you analyze it, anyone who grew up with a childhood like theirs would have a very good change of acting violently also. It is just easy for us to associate violence with being Latino because that is a sterotype people hold about Latin men, but it is important to consider nature vs. nurture in this case.

  5. Katie Lakotko says:

    One of the most eye-opening themes in Junot’s “Drown” is poverty. It is very significant in the short stories and the imagery really adds to the overall effect of the book. Their poverty is illustrated in many aspects of their lives. To begin, they are ostracized at school for their lack of wealth but also turn to violence, drugs and crime which also creates somewhat of a cyclical pattern in the stories. They use each of these means to get what they want in life, from knocking out Ysrael just to reveal his damaged face, to selling drugs, and stealing money for his mom and girlfriend. These things are portrayed as a way of survival in their lives. Even though they know its bad, they continue to partake in these activities. They say they want better things and ‘the whole fucking thing’. This also suggests hopelessness as a thematic issue with the drugs and feeling of a lack of choice.

    Additionally, there is a theme similar in idea to the debate of fate vs. free will, but more simplistic. The same evidence that supports an unknown identity can suggest that they are simply walking through their lives, not making any choices and letting everything just happen around and to them. There are many events throughout the short stores that that there are plainly no apparent reason for. Specifically, the mere fact of drug dealing when times get rough and they need to make easy money supports this idea blatantly. They do it because it is convenient and just there. They steal in the same respect when they don’t seem to have any other options. Also, Yunior just goes with the flow and lets life take its course without trying to control the outcome.For example, when Beto performs sexual favors for him, he just lets it happen. Beto even tells him to let him know if he wants to stop, but instead doesn’t say anything. In terms of the brothers relationship, Yunior looks up to Rafa the whole time and doesn’t bother to question his actions ever even if he notices their immorality. Once again, he just lets it happen. This submissiveness showcases the ‘whatever happens, happens’ attitude that is almost a necessary attitude when it comes to poverty and their way of life when anything can happen. However, in terms of getting out of poverty it is not the easier road that wins, but one should make it happen vs. let it happen.

    The most interesting part in these stories, to me, was the difference in the mother and father roles. Just like in “Freak” when the mother would refer to his son as a “Latin King” and his father would be abusive,the characters in “Drown” depict the same message. These gender roles are shown most clearly in the chapter Fiesta 1980 when Papi pushes his finger hard into his sons cheek for getting car sick when the mother kindly offers mint and blesses him. This exemplifies the gender roles are very stereotypical and represent the gentle caring feminine qualities a good mother should poses and the dominating characteristics that a man must possess in order to wear the pants in a family.

    • Bethany Sullivan says:

      I like how you pointed out hopelessness as a theme. I think that’s very true in this novel. I also liked the point you made about Yunior turning to drug-dealing as a way of survival even though he knows it’s bad; this reminded me a lot of Piri in Down These Mean Streets, who dealt drugs and committed robberies in order to make money, even though he knew it was wrong. Like Yunior, he did not know what else to do. He had no other job and no other means of income. I also completely agree that Yunior is walking through his life and letting things happen to him instead of making things happen. He seems to have essentially resigned himself to the life he lives, like when he avoids the recruiter; he knows that if he talked to the recruiter he would probably leave town to become part of the army, but instead he chooses not to take action and to continue living the same lifestyle.

      • Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

        I completely agree with the comment you made. It seems that when they have nothing else to turn to, drug dealing is the only option. And like you said they let these things happen and did not really take charge to change the course in which their life was going. In a way it angers me because they lose hope and faith in themselves and just settle for the life they are living when they have the ability to do so much more. He had the option of going to the army if he would have spoke to the recruiter but instread like you said he decides not to. It was a personal choice he made that definetly would have had his life going in another direction. Instead he decided to stay, not take charge as if life would get better on its own. I found it to be very immature and lazy.

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      Your idea of “making it happen vs. letting it happen” in relation to getting out of poverty makes me think of something I learned in my Women and Poverty class. We learned about theories toward poverty, and Yunior’s situation correlates with the “culture of poverty.” This means that children who grow up in poverty get comfortable and accept that they will live in poverty also when their older like their parents, so they make no attempt to get out. Is this what happned with Yunior?

  6. Lauren Todd says:

    In Drown we see Dominican immigrant struggles as they come to America. Once again we see similar themes of violence, homosexuality, poverty, and drugs just to name a few. The book also tells a story of fathers who are gone and mothers who are determined to keep their families together. Although, absent fathers seemed to be a reoccurring thing in the past movies/books we never saw such dominant women roles as working long hours and doing whatever possible for them and their families to not be on the street.

    We could relate the first part of book to the article “Harvest of Empire: Dominicans “as we note the discrimination, poverty, and crime that were real issues of immigrants. For example, Ysrael is adjusting to a poor neighborhood in New Jersey from the Dominican Republic. Ysrael like the other kids in the story act tough and crude for their hard exterior. On the inside they are suffering from their complicated families and rough circumstances. We see violence throughout with all the stories. An example is when Rafa knocks Ysrael out to look at his face.

    Out of all the books this one was the most shocking in terms of language and actions that occurred. Specifically the scene when the old man gets the “tries” to get the stain of Yunior’s pants. Overall, this book was very similar to the others and was very relatable in some aspect or another to all of them.

    • Bethany Sullivan says:

      I agree that Yunior’s mother is a very strong character. She fought very hard to keep the family together in the Dominican Republic, before Yunior’s father sent for them. She was also a good, nurturing mother when the family was together in the US. She always did a good job taking care of Yunior and Rafa. Only when Yunior seems to be supporting her later on does she stop being such a strong character. It seems that she lost some of her strength when Yunior’s father left her, and that is why she still calls him even though he left her and broke her heart.

      • I agree that Yunior’s mother is a very strong character. Not only was she an extremely hard worker, she put aside her pride and sent her children to spend time with her family in the countryside when she could not afford to care for them. I don’t think that she lost some of her strength when Yunior’s father left her, rather she still has a soft spot for him (as seen in the scene where she wanted to talk to Yunior’s father on the phone).

    • Katheryn Maldonado says:

      I agree with Natasha, I do not think Yunior’s mother lost strength after Yunior’s father left. I think it is true that she will always have a place in her heart for him. I think she was too strong of an individual to allow a broken heart to weaken her. I think she did a great job taking care of her children, she always had their best interest in mind even when it interfered with her personal feelings. She took pride in trying to maintain her family’s togetherness even after Yunior’s father left.

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      You bring up a good point about the external vs. internal struggle that not only Yunior, but many young Dominican immigrants may endure when coming to the United States. They must appear tough on the outside, as to not get bullied or hurt, but on the inside, emotionally, they are still dealing with trying to fit in, and other subjects not even related to the move such as family problems.

  7. Bethany Sullivan says:

    It is very interesting to consider Yunior’s relationship with his father. At different points in his life, his impression of his father is very different. When he was young and still living in the Dominican Republic he looked up to the idea of his father and wanted desperately to meet him and find out what he was like, so much so that he caused problems with his mother the first time his father said he would come for them. After his mother realized that her husband was not coming, Yunior was still not ready to accept it and continued to ask his mother when he would come home.

    Later, when the family is reunited in the US, Yunior’s father is abusive and unaffectionate. Yunior says “I was the one who was always in trouble with my dad. It was like my God-given duty to piss him off, to do everything the way he hated” (26-27). Nonetheless, Yunior craves his father’s love and approval.

    When Yunior is older and living with his mother, he no longer has this affection and admiration for his father. He seems instead to hate him and do his best not to think about him. In the story Drown he catches his mother on the phone with his father, who is living in Florida with another woman, and hangs up on him. He no longer has any respect for his father and instead begrudges him.

    • Rachel Korb says:

      The fact that Yunior says he was singled out by his father reminds me of Down These Mean Streets where Piri feels as though he is targeted. I am noticing the trend that all of these authors are inspired to write after feeling like they can not be accepted by their fathers. Perhaps they write so they can seek approval elsewhere.

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      It seems like the trend is the main characters of these books treat their fathers dependent on how their fathers treat their mothers. Like you said, once Yunior saw that his mother was being treated unfairly he lost respect for his father. This could explain why latin boys tend to have a close relationship with their mother, being their “Latin Kings” like in the movie “Freak”.

  8. Lima James says:

    This book is as interesting as the other ones we have read in class. It also relates to a lot of the themes and ideas we have talked about surrounding latino masculinity, lifestyle, family relationships, violence, homosexuality and so on. To me, what stood out the most was the family relations and also the violence tied to it. As in many of the other readings we have done, the violence seems to be a learned characteristic from their family lifestyle, especially from the father figure. This notion of the father figure being portrayed as an angry violent person relates to the “Freak” as well as. If you remember, John’s father was very similar to Yunior and Rafa’s father. He was very violent, angry, and always yelling and screaming at them as well as abusive towards his wife and cheating on her. This is kind of the exact same father figure in ‘Drown’.

    I say that the violence projected by Yunior and Rafa (Rafa more) is a learned trait, because this is what they have seen growing up. They are afraid of their father, and when they get sent off to their uncles, they have this sensation of freedom and do whatever they want, a sense of rebelliousness, doing whatever they want because their dad is not there to scold them or scream and them and beat them. Although Yunior is the more emotional, compassionate, caring, feminism figure between the two boy, he tries to do whatever his brother does. He tries to go with them everywhere, and try to be like his brother —more “manly”. He wants to be his friend, he wants to be accepted by his brother. This is another factor we have seen in other books, the need to be accepted by the father, friends, or siblings. But then, later on we read about how abusive and violent Yunior is with Aurora.

    But apart from all that, after not caring about his father and in a sense “letting go of him” he turn to do whatever he pleases, such as selling drugs with his friend. This idea of being detached from the others in his family.

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      That is a good connection in relating John Leguizamo to Yunior. They really do have very similar father situations. It seems as if although their fathers were abusive, there was still a longing to be close to them, at least during their youth years.

  9. Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

    One of the themes that seems to occur in most of the books we have read so far and is again very obvious in Drown is the economical struggle that this family goes through. They have a difficult time living in New Jersey and although we typically discuss families in New York, their situation is not unlike the others we have read about. They try to blend into the American culture of surviving in the United States but it is clear they have the same obstacles as other immigrant families who move here in the hopes of improving their circumstances and a better future for their children.

    Another interesting theme is how the author uses spanish words even though the text is in english to explain certain things. This seems to maintain the identity of the family as a combination of two different worlds and how they are still connected to their lives in the Dominican Republic. Since the mother raised the children while the father was already in the U.S. prior to their arrival, the life they had before New Jersey is a significant part of their identity and how the children were raised. I think it is interesting how Junot Diaz uses this as a way to emphasize the mixing of the two clutures for this family.

    • Rachel Korb says:

      Do you think that there is a reason that they use spanish vocabulary in the books beyond trying to incorporate multiple cultures? Do you think this is a way for the authors to target only a specific audience? For English speaking readers, some concepts are lost when they use Spanish. Do you think this is intentional or a side effect?

      • ElisePrairie says:

        As we discussed in class, it seems to inentional to just be an act of habbit. I think the language was intentionally chosen to let other Spanish speakers have an inside scoop on the story – stregthening this community. As we talked about the word that literallly translated as ‘duck’ I feel quite lost at times in the reading and know any publisher would have made sure to take out this confusion if it was unintentionally in the writing.

      • montanabeutler says:

        I know some spanish, but not enough to translate many of the words in this story. I don’t think Diaz’s intention is to exclude a non-spanish speaking audience, but rather give the character a proper voice. Yunior would use spanglish in places, english in others, and full spanish still in another. I don’t think concepts are lost to non-spanish speakers in the book, because many of the words can be understood through context. As a non-hispanic person, I do not feel excluded from the culture being written about, but rather that it is a more genuine experience of this man’s life through his words.

      • I had a different take on the language aspect. I took his use of spanish vocabulary to signify that no one would understand the hardships that he endured, only native spanish speakers would be able to relate. I think that non-spanish speakers can still relate to his works (along with those of other Latino authors), and he used vocabulary that had multiple meanings beyond what is typically taught in a spanish class (ex: pato).

      • Rachel Korb says:

        That is a good point, I had not considered that he would address Spanish speakers because they would be the ones to understand his plight.

    • Luis Muniz says:

      I think that Diaz uses spanish within the book as well as english not because he wants spanish readers to have an inside scoop, but more because he wants his spanish readers to relate more to the story. Diaz being from NJ as well as being born in DR, knows how to speak both languages, such as many Latinos who moved to the U.S.

      • Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

        I would agree with that. I think the use of 2 languages is a huge part of how the author wrote this book and wanted to make sure both spanish and enlgish speakers could understand where he was coming from but especially spanish speakers because he is from Dominican Republic so it is more personal than just describing characters that he made up.

      • Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

        In a way i agree with what you are saying. That Diaz uses spanish so that spanish speakers can relate more to the story but i also feel that in spanish it has more meaning and it hits home harder. Although in english the translation means the samething it just sounds worse when you use it in spanish.

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      The opening quote of “Drown” speaks to the idea of using English vs. Spanish. It seems as though he wanted to use Spanish instead, because he wrote “The fact that I am writing to you in English already falsifies what I wanted to tell you.” Because of this, maybe when he is writing in Spanish he is doing so because that is something he specifially cares a lot about, along with him wanting to have both English and Spanish readers able to relate.

      • Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

        I agree, it is an interesting way to start. I think he wants to show that his experiences are as a spanish speaker and as a man who identifies moreso with a spanish speaking community which is why he uses the quote. I don’t think he is trying to come off as saying english speakers can’t truly understand or exclude them but rather that it is crucial for him to go between two languages and two cultures to appeal to both sides because strictly using english would feel like he was falsely representing himself and what he wants to tell the reader.

  10. dipali1991 says:

    The novel Drown has been a great read so far. The main family involved in the novel is Dominican and this book and the presentation that went along with this book taught me about the Dominican culture and struggle to be noticed in America.
    I had no idea about how the Dominican people migrated to America and it was great learning something knew! I did not know all of the struggles the Dominicans faced when they were trying to migrate to America to make a better life for themselves. It was amazing to me how they were rejected by the puerto Rican people, and how the American government did not treat them in a way that was like the other groups coming into America such as the Cubans. I understand why the Dominicans were treated so poorly by the Cubans and the American people, but I feel that they should’ve been more welcomed into America by the government.
    Also, I learned alot about Dominican sterotypes within this group of people by watching a video a group included in one of their presentations. I was shocked to see that discrimination still existed within this group, and that some people even classified Dominican people as black if their skin was darker. I feel that people should not be judged by their skin color, and it is sad how this still exists within American today. I loved to hear the stories of the actors in the video and how they they couldn’t try out for Latino parts because their skin was “too dark”.
    Another point made that caught my attention was how their was a “beef” between the Puerto Rican people and the Dominican people. I am sure it is not as bad today but I had never known of this fact so I found this to be interesting. It is so interesting to me that even within the same group of people *Latinos” arguments and hostility still occurs. I feel that Dominicans should be classified as Latino and not black. Skin color does not change the race and ethnicity that you are, and people need to see this!

    • Rachel Korb says:

      I agree that the video with celebrities struggling to find roles was very interesting. I had no idea that there was a struggle for some Latinos who are unable to identify between being black or Latino. It is unfair that they are forced to choose. For these actors it seems ridiculous that they could not play both parts, since both are a part of who they are. It must be challenging to have someone tell you that you do not act enough like the race that you actually are.

      • ElisePrairie says:

        I also agree I liked this video and found it to be eye opening. It goes along with our class discussions reinforcing the need to accept someone for who they are without trying to put them into a box of our understanding.

      • montanabeutler says:

        I also was surprised by this video. Firstly, I was surprised to learn that so many of those stars I thought were black were actually latino! I had no idea, which I suppose is the desired effect. Looking at casting in hollywood is a slippery slope. For these men and women, the fact that their actual identity as connected to race was slipping away because of the way they were being cast made them question what it meant to be a latino/a. I’m sure many directors/producers didn’t even consider this a factor when informing them they needed to fill this or that role, and perhaps felt the person should be grateful for getting a role at all. Race as a social signifier is what comes into play here, and the fact is that calling someone what they look like on the surface happens because of the physical cues we associate with cultures.

      • Britaney Guzman says:

        I agree! It can kind of lead to an identity crisis at a young age. Like Christina Millian was saying, her ethnicity being questioned by her peers at school was very confusing to her. Like the other celebrities in the video, they were often forced into either “choosing” black or latino, when in all actuality they shouldn’t really have to choose in the first place.

    • Katheryn Maldonado says:

      Being a young Dominican woman I feel very passionately about this subject. Not a lot of people know about the difficulties we face daily being Latinos. We are always categorized as inferior beings in the Latino community because we are different. I think it is something that has gone unnoticed for too long. It is a very big issue.

      • Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

        I absolutely agree with your comment Katheryn. Being a young Dominican woman myself i can really relate to the struggles that are introduced. Many people seem to overlook the struggles that Latinos in this country have to go through. The categorization that you speak of i feel is a very big reason why they tend to act the way they do as we read in the novel.

  11. Rachel Korb says:

    I like that we read Drown after reading Down These Mean Streets and after seeing Freak. At this point in the course we have been exposed to many men who face similar struggles; the first being difficult relationships with their fathers. In Freak, John’s father reinforces masculine ideals of sexuality by forcing John to lose his virginity to an older woman in KFC and by cheating on his wife. He asserts his dominance by beating his children and only showing affection when he is intoxicated. He also feels the need to maintain the image of the male breadwinner to the extent that he lies to his kids about his job. John admits that he never really feels as though his father loves him. In Down These Mean Streets, Piri feels as though his father likes his other children better because their skin is lighter. He does not feel as though his father loves him. His father also cheats on his mother. Similarly, in Drown, Yunior does not have a father for the first nine years of his life. He does not feel as though his father loves him. His father clearly does not respect him because he does not allow him to eat before getting in the car and gets mad at him for getting sick in the car. His father also has another woman on the side. All of these characters struggle with approval from their fathers.
    In Down These Mean Streets, Piri has a gay experience with the transsexuals at their apartment. He receives oral sex from one of them and tries to remind himself that he is straight because he is not comfortable with the fact that he enjoys what he is experiencing. He acknowledges the he enjoys it but needs to force himself not to. He gets himself into this situation by succumbing to peer pressure. In Drown, Yunior also has a gay experience with one of his friends. As they are watching porn, his friend begins to give him a hand job, and Yunior ejaculates almost immediately. He clearly enjoyed the experience but becomes so uncomfortable by the fact that he enjoyed it, he has no interest in seeing that friend anymore. With these books we are able to see the ways different men handle similar situations and relationships. Unfortunately, these seem to be situations which involve poor relationships with their fathers and struggles with their sexual identity.

    • I agree with what you said every book that we have read so far , the main character all seem to be going through sometime inner family struggle . All the men have all been shaped either positively or negatively by their relationship with their fathers . Its a really interesting dynamic to explore further

    • Katie Lakotko says:

      I think that you have accurately analyzed the specific theme of relationships in both Drown and Down These Mean Streets. In terms of homosexuality, I think the main characters shared the view of homophobia but in different ways. More importantly I think it is interesting to highlight the fact that they both shared the actual experience of homosexuality even though they are both straight. This gave me the sense of frequency or more so normally accepted, which I wouldn’t expect. As we have discussed in class many times, the stereotypical latino man is very manly and extra homophobic in ways. Therefore in this way, I was surprised when the engagement in homosexual acts was so accepted. It portrayed it as almost natural.

  12. Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

    Unfortunately, poverty is a huge part of this story. The good news is we see how Yunior recognizes it and his dad was trying to go beyond it as well. Poverty is crippling and depressing. I believe that poverty and all the baggage it carries was a contributing factor to how Mami semed to have been depressed and not motivated. Even Yunior felt relief when Mami would send him and Rafa to the house by the water. That relative was financially more stable. Yunior loved to be able to get away from the misery poverty brought. Although Yunior’s dad was in the wrong for his act of polygamy, it was financially motivated. In the end, it blows up in his face but just like we can’t blame a single mom for stealing bread from the grocery store in order for her to feed her kids, neither can we frown too much about Papi marrying another woman so that marriage can facilitate better finances for him and his family back in the D.R. I believe survival trumps morals in this case.

    Not only was Papi into polygamy for financial gain but he also felt convicted for doing so. When that job opportunity came where he would be able to kill two birds with one stone: accepting that job where he would have the chance to move out and move his family from the D.R stateside, he was very anxious to take it. This alone exhonerated him. After I read that, my attitude toward him changed. I then began to really understand his motives. It brought me back to our class discussion of Latino “Machismo”. In the sense that the true definition of macho is a Latino male being passionate about his family, Then Papi was “The Macho Man” (pun intended).

  13. Luis Muniz says:

    I found Drown to be very confusing at first but then I realized that everything he talks about and does as an adult is because of his experiences when he was younger. For example how he feels about his old friend Beto can be linked to his experience on the bus when the old man touches him. i find it to be somewhat common in the book where is talking about a particular instance or theme while being younger and it shows how it affected him later on but doesn’t directly say it.

  14. anadiezcanseco says:

    Drown is like most of the books we have read throughout the semester. Drown relates to the other readings, because it enforces in almost all of its short stories the importance of a person’s characteristics and identity. Whenever a character enters an unfamiliar environment, it experiments with itself to find themselves and understand reality. It is hard to understand, but it makes sense, for example when Yunior’s and his father came from DR they had a hard time adjusting to English since spanish was their first language. Yunior also experienced a sexual encounter with one of his guy friends, he at first did not appear to feel attracted to men, but since his encounter with the other sex sexually he seemed to enjoy it and did not back out of the situation.

    In the Juan Gonzalez “Harvest of Empire” reading, it said how some people mourned the death of Trujillo, but after finding out of what went on during his ruling they were infuriated. I wouldn’t blame them, because Trujillo murdered and tortured many innocent people. From the presentation in class I learned about how Trujillo controlled people’s lives to even the inside of their house. That must of been a terrible time for many dominicans, and thankfully they took him down for the better of the people.

  15. anadiezcanseco says:

    Drown is like most of the books we have read throughout the semester. Drown relates to the other readings, because it enforces in almost all of its short stories the importance of a person’s characteristics and identity. Whenever a character enters an unfamiliar environment, it experiments with itself to find themselves and understand reality. It is hard to understand, but it makes sense, for example when Yunior’s and his father came from DR they had a hard time adjusting to English since spanish was their first language. Yunior also experienced a sexual encounter with one of his guy friends, he at first did not appear to feel attracted to men, but since his encounter with the other sex sexually he seemed to enjoy it and did not back out of the situation.

    In the Juan Gonzalez “Harvest of Empire” reading, it said how some people mourned the death of Trujillo, but after finding out of what went on during his ruling they were infuriated. I wouldn’t blame them, because Trujillo murdered and tortured many innocent people. From the presentation in class I learned about how Trujillo controlled people’s lives to even the inside of their house. That must of been a terrible time for many dominicans, and thankfully they took him down for the better of the people.

    • Brimar Guerrero says:

      I do agree with your comment. For the most part Drown has been very familiar to the other novels that we have read throughout the semester. Like others have previously stated, most of the works revolve around drugs, poverty, gender, sexuality, and finding ones true identity. In the case of Drown I found the novel to be very entertaining because we got an insight of the Dominican Community. I don’t think a lot of people are aware of the struggles this community faces on a daily base and I found it enlightening to learn more about the male role in the Dominican Republic.

      • Ally Green says:

        I feel similarly to Brimar in the respect that Drown provided insight into a specific subset of an overarching Latino culture, that being Dominican culture. Given the heightened specificity, I think it made the themes we discussed (drugs, poverty, sexuality, gender, etc) more tangible since we were able to “experience them” in a real-world context instead of applying them to what can be a vague umbrella concept of “Latino culture.” On the same token, this enabled us to learn more specifically about Dominican culture, thus allowing us to compare and contrast the role these themes play across various Latino communities, i.e. Mexican, Puerto Rican, etc.

  16. anadiezcanseco says:

    Drown is like most of the books we have read throughout the semester. Drown relates to the other readings, because it enforces in almost all of its short stories the importance of a person’s characteristics and identity. Whenever a character enters an unfamiliar environment, it experiments with itself to find themselves and understand reality. It is hard to understand, but it makes sense, for example when Yunior’s and his father came from DR they had a hard time adjusting to English since spanish was their first language. Yunior also experienced a sexual encounter with one of his guy friends, he at first did not appear to feel attracted to men, but since his encounter with the other sex sexually he seemed to enjoy it and did not back out of the situation.

    In the Juan Gonzalez “Harvest of Empire” reading, it said how some people mourned the death of Trujillo, but after finding out of what went on during his ruling they were infuriated. I wouldn’t blame them, because Trujillo murdered and tortured many innocent people. From the presentation in class I learned about how Trujillo controlled people’s lives to even the inside of their house. That must of been a terrible time for many dominicans, and thankfully they took him down for the better of the people. The presentation in class really summarized a lot of the article.

    • Julissa Antigua says:

      I also agree that the majority of the books we have read for this class share the same themes of absent father figures, homosexual acts, and masculinity. Even though it is sad that we only read of the negative examples of Latino men I don’t believe that is the point of these books. In many of the cases the absence of father figures only aided the development of the main character’s masculinity, sexuality and rights of passage.

  17. chloebx says:

    In the first 5 chapters of Drown, you can see how sad and REAL these lives are. Growing up in the “ghetto” you either get a glimpse inside their worlds, by “their worlds” I am referring to the immigrants who come to this country for a better life but find themselves “stuck”, or you live it or have family members who live it. One of the major issues of this portion and ultimately in the lives of many urban families today, is the lack of parental guidance. In the portion you see the emotionally battered mother figure who does her best to cope with her husbands infidelities and absence and the sadly somewhat “typical” urban/ethnic father figure who is not their for his children physically and/or beats them and make them feel useless.

    In this portion you see the damaging effects of a broken home. Rafa is violent and ill mannered, he is a “womanizer” and uses girls coldly, etc. All of his behaviors reflect his own absent father. Yunior also was greatly affected by this. He witnesses violence early on by his brother and on him by his own father. He ends up being emotionally disturbed, abusive, ill mannered and maybe sexually “confused”? Nevertheless, one can see that both Rafa and especially Yunior could have turned out different, if there father had been there and had also been a much better man.

    • JessicaRaugitinane says:

      I agree that Yunior’s development was affected by his brother, Rafa. You mentioned that he became “emotionally disturbed, abusive, ill mannered and maybe sexually ‘confused'” as a result of Rafa’s influence and the absence of his father. I found it interesting that Yunior could have possibly learned to be sexually confused due to his upbringing. Does this suggest that sexuality can be shaped by society and it is not biologically driven? I know this is a controversial issue and will probably never get answered. However, since many of the authors we have read are themselves homosexual, why do you think they portray homosexuality throughout their books in the ways they do? Do they want to convey that maybe their upbringing had to do with them “turning out” the way they did? If they had a present father-figure would they not be sexually confused or homosexual? I would think that most homosexuals would defend that homosexuality is determined biologically, thus, I’m trying to figure out why homosexuality within these books is portrayed as more of an adolescent experiment rather than a way of life determined from birth. Any thoughts?

      • Katheryn Maldonado says:

        That is a great point Jessica. I do also wonder about this idea of nature vs nurture in homosexuality. It seems that all of the novels we have read in the class have brought up this debate. I wonder if their portrayal of sexual orientation is based on how each of the characters upbringing was, and the lack of strong male figures. I think that is a great point, most of the authors we have read are homosexual and I wonder if they themselves believe in the nurture aspect of their homosexuality. From this aspect I do believe that most of their beliefs defend the idea that environments such as tough upbringings, poverty, struggles with fathers have a lot to do with their sexuality.

      • Britaney Guzman says:

        I feel like sexuality is not always determined biologically, and not all LGBT people know that they are gay right away. Sometimes it could be through experiences or thoughts, or even change over time… and this seems to be the case for many of the characters in the books we are reading. Growing up in a household where homosexuality is not allowed, or even discussed probably had a negative impact on these people… therefore them not being able to fully explore their sexuality. For this reason them discovering their sexuality really has no choice but to be from experiments as a child, as opposed to being open and knowing their sexuality right from birth.

  18. franciscotorres01 says:

    So in drown we have an interesting dichotomy again when it comes to the father figures and male figures in general. Why is that all the books we read have that same theme? The men are abusers and womanizers and the young boys try to live up to that “greatness” and do the same. there has not been any real deviation from that kind of tale. Where are the stories that speak positively of men in general?

    Now more interesting is Trujillo. If you have ever read in the Time of Butterflies you will find out why Trujillo was mourned by the ignorant. He was a powerful man and besides that he was charming and had class. In one section of the book mentioned above Trujillo closes down a town to talk and woo a young lady. He brings her flowers, talks to her in a kind voice and simply sweeps her off her feet, but she does not see the evil he has done. I mean Trujillo attacked churches and kids if they happened to stand up against him. He was not one to show mercy unless it benefited him in some shape or form.

    • I know that this is a long shot, but from your description I feel like Yunior’s father somewhat resembles Trujillo in his actions and mannerisms. Yunior’s father was very manipulative and although people knew that he was deceitful, they still supported him in coming to the United States. It wasn’t until Yunior was older did he realize the pain that his father caused for everyone around him.

    • I really find that interesting too the fact that all the books we have read so far , the father figure plays a prevalent role in life of the main character and the way the relationship to their father affects their life. I agree with you that it would be interesting to find more story’s where there is a positive view on Latino men

    • Brimar Guerrero says:

      Francisco, you bring up a rather interesting point. During the semester we have been learning about the father figure in the Latino community and for the most part the same theme has been transcending throughout various novels that we have read. The men are usual these very dominant and masculine figures who are in charge of their households. Most seem to have affairs and for the most part younger men, in particular their sons, look up to them. I think it’s interesting that we’ve only read about such figures in this course because I do not think they embody most of the Latino community as a whole. It is true that certain males tend to be very dominate and often abuse their power but for the most part, there is a good portion of males who are great father figures and do not necessarily abuse their power.

  19. For the first part of “Drown,” we learn that growing up, Yunior had a softer side yet he wanted to fit in. Yunior always wanted to tag along with his older brother and always wanted to be on his best behavior for his father, in short he was a people pleaser. In the first few chapters we are introduced to various components in Yunior’s life that help shape him into the man that we see later on in the second half of the compilation of short stories. Yunior has an undying love and respect for his mother and is constantly put in the situation where he challenges whether to tell his mother about his father’s affair or keep his mouth shut. We start to see many stereotypes such as a father/husband who leaves for another woman and violent/short tempered. Yunior’s father ultimately leaves the family in hopes of reaching the United States for a better life, only to abandon the family when the going gets tough.
    Through his interactions with the male figures in his life, Yunior’s perception of masculinity is being tough and stoic. We see these qualities towards the end of the first half of the book. Here, Junot Diaz talks about Yunior’s extremely unhealthy relationship with Aurora, the junkie who uses him for drugs and sex. Yunior knows what to expect everytime that Aurora comes around, yet he allows her to come back into his life time and time again even though he rather punch her in the face. Each time they reconvene, Aurora ends up leaving Yunior more empty-handed than the last time. Another example is when Yunior engages in homosexual activities; the first encounter seemed as if Yunior did not resist because he was confused about what was going on and afraid of what would happen next. Like in “Down These Mean Streets,” Yunior’s way of coping and maintaining his manhood is by not acknowledging what happened and ignoring it.

    • Katie Lakotko says:

      The theme of latino father stereotype is very prevalent in Drown definitely. The example you provided about his father abandoning the family coincides to the entire idea of abandonment in the stereotypes we have explored. However, don’t you think that running away from these problems when the going gets tough signifies a weak characteristic? I always thought these two stereotypes, both the typical tough guy and also then man who runs away from trough situations extremely contrast each other. These ideas conflict in my head and I think that then father figure in Drown is depicted as one who is not as tough but more self indulging in many ways such as not providing well for the family.

      • I completely agree with the self-indulging comment. I addressed this in my most recent post about the second half of the book. I think that Yunior’s father uses the tough act and womanizing to compensate for the fact that although he is a hard worker, it isn’t to better his family as a whole rather just himself.

      • arussell11 says:

        I agree that the abuses and abandonment that we have witnessed by the father figures is a sign of weakness. It does show an inability to express themselves in a civilized manner. Also, this may speak to people’s understanding of what it means to be a man based on the picture that society paints for us.

  20. JessicaRaugitinane says:

    The presentation on “Drown” highlighted the title as implying a sense of disorientation or confusion. We also discussed the significance and effect of there not being a Spanish glossary for the Spanish words and phrases that are casually inserted into the text. I think the opening quote of the book provides some insight into these two themes of disorientation of the characters and reader: “The fact that I am writing to you in English already falsifies what I wanted to tell you. My subject: how to explain to you that I don’t belong to English though I belong nowhere else.” I think that the book being written in English is a critique in itself of immigrant families losing a part of their culture and identity when moving to the United States. Yunior’s father moves to the U.S. and feels the pressure to learn English and find a job that pays well. Through all this, he basically forgets about his family, showing how U.S. society aids in his betrayal of his family and disorientation of what culture he identifies with.

    Moreover, we discussed how the Spanish words throughout the text affect the reader. Does it disorient the reader? Does it exclude English-readers and include Spanish-readers? The opening quote describes how writing in English “falsifies” the original meaning; considering this, perhaps Díaz inserts the Spanish vocabulary to renew the Latino culture taken away by the United States. The fact that there is no glossary or English translation to be found, the Spanish words almost retaliate against the U.S. culture and society that immigrants have to conform to. Only readers of this culture can understand and relate to the ideas expressed in the Spanish language. Thus, the Spanish words serve as something concrete and permanent of the Latino culture that no one can steal or diminish, preserving and cherishing the Latino community and culture.

    • Julissa Antigua says:

      As a Spanish speaking student I also found it interesting that Diaz used Spanish words to in his story. Although I understand the words he used I can also see why he chose to write them in Spanish. Some of the words he used did not have and exact translation. For example in the story where he talks about the men who would walk his mother home Diaz referred to the men as fulanos which in translation means so and so, a nameless person. Instead Diaz could have used the word stranger but he chose to use the fulanos which is commonly used in spanish culture. Although it is unfair since the book is mainly in English for those who can understand it it makes the book much richer.

  21. Ashton Haga says:

    While reading the book, I found it interesting how the author uses some Spanish words and does not provide a definition as in Down These Mean Streets. In Thomas’ book he provides a mini translation dictionary in the back so we can find out what the Spanish words mean. I thought this was very helpful so that I could grasp the full meaning of some of the scenes/sentences. However, Diaz does not include any translations. As we discussed in class, I think this is because Diaz feels that if someone does not know Spanish they are already an outsider and will not fully understand the story either way. It seems like Diaz almost has a story with extra meaning for people that speak Spanish and are a part of that culture and then just the basic version for English only. I wonder if this was the author’s intent or just a coincidence.

    Also, I wonder if Diaz was influenced by Down These Mean Streets at all. Drown was published in 1996 and Down These Mean Streets was published in 1967 and again in 1995. If Diaz read Thomas’ novel before writing his own, was he influenced by the way Thomas presented his characters and themes? Both books are written similarly with vignettes of the characters’ lives. In addition, both books include a mix of English and Spanish words to emphasize important concepts and themes. It would be interesting to know if Diaz was influenced by Thomas’ book or not.

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      I was wondering why he didn’t include the translations in the back also. With the idea of him not wanting to because the non-Spanish speaking readers were already outsiders… do you think he did so because he was resentful of the treatment he recieved when coming to to the United States? This could have been his way to make other people outsiders when it comes to language, as he had been in his younger years.

  22. The second half of Drown definitely started to piece everything together. In the beginning of the book I was extremely confused about Yunior’s father and his relationship with the family. After reading the story of when he met his second wife, I started to get even more confused about his true intentions for marrying her. At first I thought that Yunior’s father was using the second wife to gain US citizenship, but it was still unclear as to whether he wanted it just for himself or if that would be his tool to bring the rest of his family to the United States. I think that Yunior’s father only followed through with bringing Yunior’s family to the US because Yunior’s mother and maternal grandfather loaned his father money to come to the United States.
    In terms of masculinity, he abandoned his family and did not have the guts to visit them when he went to the Dominican Republic that summer. I definitely think that Yunior’s father followed a lot of the Latino male stereotypes. Although he comes off as tough, a womanizer, and a hard worker, the fact that he abandoned his family for so long and only came back to them once it was convenient signifies a sign of weakness. This proves that Yunior’s father is a manipulator and a moocher. He somehow convinced Yunior’s father to loan him money even though everyone in town knew that he was sleeping around, and he was able to sneak out of his second wife’s home after he had milked her for all she was worth and left her with a child. This goes against the stereotypical family man.

    • Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

      I agree with your comment Natasha. As a man you would spect for him to stand by his family and do everything and anything possible to better them. Instead he is very selfish in only thinking about himself and moving to the U.S. and leaving his family behind. I also agree that he follows a lot of the Latino male sterotypes by being abusive and manipulative.

  23. Melissa Calderon says:

    Many of the books have the same themes like husbands cheating on their wives and leaving their families. But I think the reason why it keeps coming up us because it is all part of masculinity. It is ok that they sleep with other women, also have the ability to get up and leave when they feel like it. Just like Yunior’s father did. But what really gets me is that these men like Yunior’s father have audacity to bring his sons to his mistress’s home to eat and wait while they have sex. The only reasoning I can come up with for why he brought them was to show them what a man was. He can do what he wants with whom he wants and no one can say a word. Especially his sons because they fear him, he is the authoritative figure like a father should be. These events I think lead to confuse Yunior about what being a man is. And the same goes for Rafa at the beginning of the book; he is older so he takes in more knowledge and has caused many sexual experiences at a young age.

    Later in the book we learn more about Papi, he has cheated many times on Mami and everyone knows it. He also cheats other people including family (Mami’s father), by borrowing as much money as he can and hustles so he can leave Dominican Republic. Also we learn about his second wife and it becomes clearer the way he uses women for his personal gain. Papi seems to always puts himself first and really plays into the Latino masculinity role.

  24. Lauren Todd says:

    In the second part of “Drown” I really found the chapter “How to date a browngirl, blackgirl, whitegirl, or halfie” interesting. It is a sort of how to get with all these different types of women. The advice is to try to get out of the house by saying you are sick because the family must be gone. He suggests to hide the photos in random places such as other embarrassing things. He says that a whitegirl will be brought by her parents because they live in the unsafe projects. A girl from the projects will just come in when she’s ready. Black girls want you to come in meet their mom. Although it’s really funny, they are based off stereotypes. Throughout this chapter specifically, we see this how women are being degraded by the way the narrator makes the ultimate goal to get into a girls pants. Through the humor he uses, we laugh, but looking beneath the words there is that tone of dominating women and in term displaying masculinity.

    Overall, I really did like the second half of “Drown”. Although I was a little confused with Yunior’s father and his motives with women and with coming to the US. I liked how everything tied together in the end.

  25. I really enjoyed reading the book it is one of my favorite so far that we have read so far in class. An important theme that revolves around the book is the concept of family and the way the family plays an important role in their life. As arussell11 mentioned in her post in order to better understand the Hispanic /Latino culture you have to understand the important role that the family plays in one’s life. Family is an important aspect for a person’s more development and it influences the kind of person one grows up to be.
    The book gives stories about young children growing up in poverty with limited opportunities , children whose lives has been affected by an absent father , violence , gangs ,drugs. A lot of the stories that are described throughout the book show how these kids have to protect themselves from the streets and at times having to put a front and act tough in order to hold their status in the streets.

  26. Katheryn Maldonado says:

    In Juan Gonzalez, Harvest of Empire he talks about the struggles of Dominicans and their migration after the reign of Trujillo. My grandmother lived in San Cristobal, Trujillo place of birth, during his reign. As a young woman, my grandmother explained how negative this time period was. It was a time filled with fear and negativity. You would think in the town where Trujillo was born there would exist some supporters, but the fact was that San Cristobal is a city that saw the negative things that were being done in the nation. I think it is unfortunate that not a lot of people know about the plight of Dominicans and their struggle to migrate. We did not receive enough support by the US government during our times of need.
    In another part Juan mentions in Harvest of Empire, describes the struggle between Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. Both groups were migrants of to the US. and they struggled against each other as being the bottom of the social chain. The unfortunate part is that Puerto Ricans don’t seem to understand the struggle we faced coming into the country. Dominicans came from a standard of living that was below that of Cubans at their time of coming to the US. As far as taking jobs away from Puerto Ricans, Dominicans just strived for any opportunity to succeed by any means possible. Although the conflict within the two groups are slowly declining, the fact is that the issues are still engrained.

    • I really like your point about the conflict between Dominicans and puerto ricans. Me being Dominican I have seen these many conflicts appear and sometimes its hard to understand why such issues exist if as Latinos living in America we have the same struggles and we should unite not separate

    • Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

      What you state is very true. You would think that because as Latinos we encounter simmilar issues one would unite to try and make things better. I believe these issues arrised because of the ethnocentric mentalitty that so many people have. Being that Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. they always have that support, Cuba also had support because of the issues in their country with Fidel so they were accepted here. Dominicans on the other hand are a different story, they were not as accepted even through the reign of Trujillo. Dominicans had the shorter end of the stick, they are not citizens and therefor had to work harder.

    • Brimar Guerrero says:

      Katheryn, you bring up an excellent argument in this post. I too am Dominican and I believe that not too many people are aware of the struggles that Dominican immigrants face on a daily basis. It is true that we do not receive adequate support from the government or the American community as a whole. Instead we are frowned upon and are seen as some sort of alien.

      In terms of the argument that you brought up in regards to Dominicans and Puerto Ricans , like Gresenia said, you would think there would be more support between both communities but instead there is a constant rivalry between the two.

  27. i found the second half of drown pretty interesting. All around i found Yunior’s father pretty despicable, the fact that he constantly slept around and abandoned both of his wives and seemed to only use them for money, even how he brought Yunior to his mistresses house shows how terrible of a father he was. Also i liked “how to date a Brown Girl White Girl or a Halfie”. It was funny how he describes what to do with each kind of a girl, but it really came down to stereotypes, just because they’re black they’re going to want you to come in and meet their parents, or since they’re white their parents are going to walk them there. Just because they’re a certain color doesn’t mean that they’re going to act a specific way, it’s more likely that they will act that way because of their surroundings and up bringing.

    • montanabeutler says:

      I also found that chapter in the book interesting. I had a relationship with a guy from Colombia at one time, and it was fun to me to discover new things about the Colombian culture. At the same time, I was finding out new things about myself and my culture as a US American. I found that his family was very involved with his life, and then in turn took a serious interest in mine. Communication was very important, and any attempt I made to speak to his family in Spanish was greatly appreciated. I think maybe some of those stereotypes may be true, but they aren’t always necessarily a bad thing. Many times, it takes stepping outside of your own world to get a really good look at it in the first place.

  28. Julissa Antigua says:

    I enjoyed the second part of Junot Diaz’s Drown. Over all the book was an easy read and very entertaining. I really like the use of humor throughout the entirety of the book and as a Spanish speaking student I appreciate the words thrown in there as well. The chapter that I found had the most weight on me personally was negocios. In this Diaz carefully describes the struggles of Dominican immigrants in the United States. Ramon (Papi) had to work two jobs in order to survive in both Miami where he first arrived and in New York as well. Ramon had to deal with change of weather, poverty, and even roaches. He barely slept and he was forced to only think about himself and rely on himself.

    Although I can see why it became so easy for Ramon to forget about his family in DR there is no justification. I understand that he first had to look out for himself and gain both a job and an apartment but what about after wards when he was all settled with Nilda? One of his coworkers Needle frowned upon him for making cheap excuses for why he has forgotten about his family. Even when Nilda found out about them Ramon still didn’t fez up. Instead he declared that they meant nothing to him. Even though in the end he made up his mind and sent for them he did it for the wrong reasons. First the only reason he still remembered his family was because of the monthly letters his wife sent him. Second Ramon was no longer interested in Nilda because she had gained weight after giving birth to their son. In all honesty Ramon did not resemble masculinity in my opinion he was a coward.

    • Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

      Although he had it hard by having to work multiple jobs just to get by, like you said there is no justification for forgetting your family. In my opinion that does not make you a man and his family should be his primary concern. The fact that he left Nilda after she had gave birth to their son because she gained weight there is just no words for that. He was not a man, infact very immature and most definitely a coward.

  29. amyhahm says:

    Drown was an interesting novel that deals with the concept of masculinity and sexuality in the Latino culture. It was interesting to read this book from a narrator who was only nine years old. It is obvious that Yunior gets his ideas of masculinity from other male influences around him, such as his brother, father and uncle. As a child, Rafa, his older brother constantly tells Yunior stories of his sexual conquests. Yunior always listens to Rafa’s stories and enjoys when Rafa brings him along with him. Yunior’s relationship with his father is highlights another factor of masculinity. Yunior’s dad is the typical Latino stereotype who is tough, abusive, and having an affair. Yunior’s father constantly yells and Yunior and is punishes Yunior for everything. Yunior is definitely affected by his father’s actions especially since he writes a school essay about his father, and called it, “My Father the Torturer”. His father also has an affair with a Puerto Rican woman that Yunior knows about. It also clearly affects Yunior since he is caught wondering if his mother knows about the affair or not. I can’t believe that his dad would bring Yunior to the house of the woman he is having an affair with while he goes upstairs with her. It is surprising to me how this is not the first story that we have read that deals with father’s and their open affairs with other women. Even in “The Rain God” the father had an affair that both his son and his wife knew about, yet nothing was done about it. These theme are constantly reappearing in these stories we are learning about in class, and I find them very intriguing about how it affects the image of Latino masculinity.

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      I agree, I think it’s interesting that there is a common theme of a majority of these books: fathers cheating and the family knowing about it. This is sad, although I think (or hope) that this is not a common theme in many Latino households. From the books alone this idea has transformed from a stereotype to a reality, but maybe there is a broader spectrum of Latino literature that doesn’t reflect this idea.

      • montanabeutler says:

        If anything, the thing we should take out of these stories is that family influences how a person learns and grows. I don’t think we should look at the stereotype of fathers of color leaving as a reality, but rather see it as an education against this type of behavior. Especially in this book, Yunior didn’t turn out so well and this may be attributed to his broken family structure and lack of a parenting team. What men and women should take away from this is that it is not a good idea for a child to be left without people who care for him. Whether that be a grandmother and grandfather, two married men or women, or a man and woman, it definitely occurred to me in reading these stories that kids need structure and support to grow up to become good people. Women and men who have kids need to hold one another accountable for parenting. It should not be acceptable for a man to leave, just as it is unacceptable for a woman to. Once this paradigm shifts, and people realize they cannot just run away from a “problem,” because that “problem” is their child, then I think there will be a change in the way American youth begins to be brought up. Obama’s speech really pinpoints some interesting statistics about fatherless children, such as more than half of all black children live in single-parent homes, children without fathers are 5x more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, 9x more likely drop out of school, 20x more likely to go to prison, more likely to have behavioral problems, and become teen parents etc. Below is the link to Obama’s fathers day speech.

        Speech-

      • Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

        I noticed that there has been a decent amount of discussion regarding Latino households and men cheating with other family members knowing about it. This feeds into the stereotype that Latinas are dependent on men and won’t leave them even if they cheat because it would be much harder to take care of themselves and a family without contribution from their husband/significant other. I also hope this is just the literature and not a common reality for women because that is really disappointing and sad.

      • Ally Green says:

        I agree that the perpetuation of this behavior in literature adds to the social perception/commentary surrounding Latino culture and arguably reinforces stereotypes that can further marginalize Latinos in the context of American society. This being said, Montana’s point that these stories also communicate the undesirable/tragic consequences of this behavior and indicate the need for positive, alternative child rearing practices is thought provoking. Yunior’s upbringing was certainly less than ideal and its profound impact on his life reinforces the importance of a stable home environment in virtually any context. It seemed to me as though Yunior’s sexual confusion is sort of thrown into the mix here as being the possible consequence of such a dysfunctional childhood. Though this might be intended by the author, I wonder if this reinforces the idea that sexual confusion or homosexuality is a universal sign of dysfunction since, in this context, it may be construed as one of many undesirable byproducts of a messed up childhood. While virtually everyone here in this class seems to acknowledge that homosexuality isn’t confined to those who were messed up by their parents given the various cultural, social, and socioeconomic contexts in which homosexuality is expressed, I still wonder if this implication reinforces the principles of a heteronormative society in which the “deviants” are damaged goods.

    • Brimar Guerrero says:

      Elizabeth, you bring up a good point. I do believe to some extent that it’s hard for Latinas to leave their husbands because indeed some women are dependent on men; especially in those societies that still abide by stereotypical gender norms . But putting that aside, I think it’s hard for Latinas to leave their husbands because they do not want to “break-up” their family, especially if there are children involved. I have met a lot of women, including women from my family, who would do anything for the sake of their families, even if that means sacrificing their own happiness.

      • amyhahm says:

        I didn’t know how dependent Latinas were to their husbands. It is almost disheartening to me to read all these stories and cases about how they are unable to leave their husbands even though they are being emotionally abused, mistreated, and cheated on. At the same time, I also understand how they do not want to “break-up” the family. That is very noble and respectable of the mothers and wives to sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of their family.

      • Brimar Guerrero says:

        Amy, as you stated some of the cases in regards to marriage can be very sad. Especially since most of the time some women do not have any other options. I think this theme is something that is common among women of all races and I don’t necessarily believe this is an issue that is only relevant to Latinas.

  30. Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

    I found Drown by Junot Diaz to be a novel that i really enjoyed. Although the novel is dark and sick as others have described i really enjoyed the first few pages. The description that Diaz gave about the campo and how the boys hated it really reminded me of my childhood while i was living there. He described the rosebushes blazing around the yard, the blankets of shade that the mango trees spread and them playing dominos. While i was reading this i could not help to think of the childhood that i had there and remembering all the things as Diaz explained. The mist that gathered like water “neblina” and having to bring water from the river. I could not help but smile as i read this.

    While reading Drown i found that there were a lot of themes that we had seen in previous readings. The first that stood out to me was the relationship that Yunior had with his father, how he wished he had his attention and his presence to shape him. This reminded me of Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas. Piri was always looking for the attention and acceptance of his father. The fatherly figures in these stories are in a way very simmilar, Yunior’s father has another woman in the U.S. and also Piri’s father had another relatioinship with another woman. I feel that because Yunior’s father was not around to guide him as he grew up the only other male figure he had to look to was his older brother Rafa, in a way Rafa was his father figure hence why he turned out to have the same behavior that his older brother expressed.

    Another similar theme in this novel to Down These Mean Streets is the encounter of homosexuality. In Down These Mean Streets Piri goes to the apartment of a transvestite to get some sort of sexual encounter and it happens. Yunior has a homosexual encounter with his friend but then never encounters him again. I feel that he does this to get over the fact that he had this encounter, perhaps if he never sees him again he can pretend like it never happened or he is to prideful to come to terms with his friend and face him face to face again.

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      It is kind of ironic that he avoids his friend after their encounter. Do you think he did this because he was ashamed and regrettful, or because he actually enjoyed it but was afraid to question his own sexuality?

      • Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

        I think regardless of whether or not he enjoyed it he avoided his friend to forget about it because he knew it should not have happened and violated what is considered “acceptable”. By avoiding the friend, he could pretend to forget about it and prevent the possibility of it ever happening again.

      • montanabeutler says:

        I think it could be a little bit of both. To me, it seems that he, like many others in our society, are afraid to question heteronormativity. Along with that aversion to change there comes a sort of shame for even considering what many think of (wrongly, in my opinion), as a perversion.

      • Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

        Thats a very good point that you bring up. I feel that he did so becuase he might have enjoyed it and was afraid to question his own sexuality. It would not have been normal especially being that his older brother was always talking about girls and how he was going to do them. He would not have accepted that.

      • Brimar Guerrero says:

        Britaney, you bring up a really interesting point. Like others have pointed out I think he avoids his friend after the encounter due to embarrassment. In the Dominican Republic homosexuality is frowned upon and in certain communities men lose accreditation due to their sexuality. In my opinion, I think Yunior enjoyed the encounter but he was afraid that people may place a “label” on him and that is why he decided to end all forms of communication after the encounter.

  31. Brimar Guerrero says:

    I find Drown to be a very interesting novel. It touches base on various themes that we have discussed throughout the course; musicality, poverty, gender, sex, drugs and etc. The theme of poverty was very dominant throughout the works because it demonstrates the main character’s life from the Dominican Republic and their transition into the United States. Family also plays a large role in Junto Diaz works. The works depicts the life of both Rafa and Yunior growing up in an urban setting, where drugs and sex plays a major role in their upbringing. The relationship that they had within their family; aunts, uncles, mother, father, were very prominent throughout the works. I enjoyed the novel because it gave an insight into the Dominican community. The short stories within the novels seemed to transition smoothly from one to another in order to give the reader a better understanding of the Latino Community; in particular the Dominican culture.

  32. Ally Green says:

    Initially I planned to respond to Jessica’s post but the idea of social/cultural influences surrounding the development of a homosexual identity seemed like something that I wanted to elaborate on more in depth. From my perspective, I saw the references to possible social/cultural influences on homosexuality, and arguably sexuality at large, more as thought provoking material for the reader to consider than as evidence of the social forces impacting this area of identity development. That is, I feel the idea of upbringing and circumstance (i.e. father is gone a lot, etc) as a source of deviant sexual behavior, as homosexuality is considered in context, is a pervasive idea specifically within Latino culture. For example, we see the fear of cultivating homosexuality in the home in “The Rain God” when Miguel Chico is reprimanded for playing with dolls. It seems since this theme recurs here in “Drown” that this is, or has the potential to be, a prevalent idea in Latino culture.
    I wonder if Yunior’s acknowledgement of the potential impact these forces have upon his sexuality is a testament to the author’s personal attitudes towards the formation of a deviant sexual identity, or if this acknowledgement is a means to communicate the cultural attitudes surrounding identity development within the given sociocultural context. I’m leaning more towards the latter given that many of those who don’t identify as “the norm”/heterosexual often argue that their sexuality isn’t a “choice” or that they were born with their sexual inclination. On the other hand, the discussion of sexuality as a continuum rather than a black and white issue, across many of my women’s studies classes drives me to consider the role of society and personal circumstance in shaping one’s sexual identity. I wonder if sexuality, like so many other aspects of identity development, is the product of a nature/nurture combination rather than the manifestation of consequences from one area or the other.

  33. Britaney Guzman says:

    Before discussing the content of “Drown,” I find it important to address the overall setup of the novel in general. Like Montana noted earlier, the several mini stories within drown do not really have a specific timeline they are following. More so, it jumps around throughout different times in Yunior’s life. I find this interesting because “Drown” seems like an overall memoir of a fictional character of his past experiences. For the reason that it jumps around, Yunior seemingly doesn’t remember everything collectively, and the stories that are chosen selectively must have a significant on his life, and the person he evolved to be.

    Also, the fact that the book was written in two different languages is also important. This could be because Junot Diaz wanted to be able to reach a broader audience, including both English and Spanish readers, but I also believe it is because he did not want to exclude a part of his self identity. Although large populations of the readers of this book were very likely from the United States and English speaking, Diaz felt as though integrating Spanish into the book was important as it is an integral part of who he is. In doing so, he not only targets two specific audiences, but also gives us a better understanding of his identity.

    • Ally Green says:

      I enjoyed reading your comment a lot because I think you’re dead on in your interpretation of the dual use of language in the novel. Using both Spanish and English definitely provides insight into the different facets of the author’s identity as the product of two vastly different cultures. At the same time, he is able to reach a more diverse and expansive audience. The latter seems particularly relevant to the class since those of us who aren’t fluent Spanish speakers were still able to take in and interpret such an authentic account of experiences across the novel. On this same token, the use of Spanish, in my opinion as an outsider to Latino culture, enhanced my interpretation of the novel’s cultural authenticity. I will concede that this impression may reflect a somewhat shallow interpretation of the content, however, I feel that many readers like me, those who aren’t directly familiar with Latino culture, would express this same sentiment.

  34. Being that my parents migrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States, I found Juan Gonzalez essay, Harvest of Empire to be very informative. I always knew that Dominicans migrate from the Island to the United States because they are looking for a better lifestyle; Dominicans believe there are more opportunities in America. But I found it very interesting that most people from the Island migrated after the reign of Trujillo, since they faced a lot of struggles. The years which Trujillo was in power were a very negative time for the Dominican people; a lot of people lived in fear and there were very high rates of crimes during this time.

    It is important for people to know that in the Dominican Republic there is a high disparity amongst the rich and the poor. Those who are wealthy usually work for the government and those in the “middle class” are the teacher/store owners/lawyers/etc. Dominicans migrate to the United States because they are in search of a better lifestyle in some way, they are in search of the American dream. As Gonzalez states in his works, even though Puerto Ricans migrated to the US in hopes of the same dream there is a struggle between the two. Even though Puerto Ricans migrated to the US somehow they are viewed as being more “entitled” to be in the states than Dominicans. I find this concept to be very interesting because instead of uniting and helping each other, they are more likely to discriminate against each other. Why is it that Latinos are so divided and discriminate against each other?

    • Ally Green says:

      You make such an interesting point about the discrimination between Latino “sub-groups” (i.e. Puerto Ricans and Dominicans). I feel as though this division exists because of competition to become an accepted part of the majority in American society. That is, by discriminating against other subgroups the attitude of the white American majority is reiterated, demonstrating the willingness of Latino minorities to accept the social attitudes of white Americans in order to be accepted as the norm.

  35. Carlos Perez says:

    I found the essay Harvest of Empire to be very interesting because I was able to relate to it very well. I have many Dominican friends who came from the Dominican republic & I saw them go through the same struggles other groups I went through as a Puerto Rican moving to the states. Understanding the similarities between the two groups helped me relate to how difficult it was to come to the United States and not know the culture or language. Personally I would have enjoyed reading some thing more positive because many of the stereotypes are not negative in the latino culture.

  36. Stanley Demosthene says:

    I found Drown to be a good read not only because of the story itself, but also because of how many themes were touched upon that were previously mentioned or brought up such as violence, fatherhood, and family in general. Though the overall tone of Drown was sad and gloomy, it allowed for many appropriate connections to be made to other readings and materials discussed in class.

    An interesting subject is that when faced to deal with his sexuality, Yunior’s encounter with his friend caused him to block out and cut off his friend, which in turn would hopefully aid in suppressing a memory that maybe he was not too, too proud of. If he avoided the person involved at all costs, then he should not ever have to be put in a situation to think about what happened. I think Yunior was ashamed, but in the time it did not matter because of the need to feel acceptance by those around us.

  37. SPRING 2013 POSTS & COMMENTS

  38. Brittany Demers says:

    I think that Rafa was a very hyper masculine character. He was always talking about getting with girls, to his nine-year-old brother of all people. Was this because he had no one else to tell? They seemed to be in a secluded place at their tíos, especially from this quote “In the campo there was nothing to do, no one to see” (Díaz, 4). I don’t think it is necessary for Rafa to be telling Yunior these things, it seems like he already looks up to him (and he even noted that he did really know what Rafa was talking about). I feel that many little brothers want to be just like their older brother, and they also want to impress them. You could really tell that Yunior wanted to impress this brother on their way to find Ysrael. He didn’t want Rafa to see him eating after he told him not to buy anything to eat. Rafa also told Yunior that he needed to be tough. He was really instilling the ideas on masculinity into his brother. Its seems that Rafa may have gotten these ideas from his father from this quote “Rafa spit. You have to get tougher. Crying all the time. Do you think our papi’s crying? Do you think that’s what he’s been doing the last six years?” (Diaz, 14). This also makes me wonder why their father left.

    I felt bad when Ysrael was compared to a monster (el Cuco). He couldn’t help what happened to him. He was definitely a legend around where the boys were. It seemed that the boys went to go find him out of boredom and maybe curiosity after hearing things like “…if we were to look on his face we would be sad for the rest of our lives.” (Díaz, 9) and “…as a baby a pig had eaten his face off, skinned it like and orange” (7). I feel like these descriptions can be very scary for children especially of Yuniors age, but at the same time this can make them what to find out more. I also feel really bad for Ysrael when Rafa hits him with the bottle and takes his mask off. I can’t help but think that this has probably happened to Ysrael before and that he is always a target of peoples curiosity.

    • Amber Jones says:

      I felt extremely bad for Ysrael also, it was clear that violent acts occurred against him often. And what really made it worst was when Yunior and Rafa got in contact with him they started a regular conversation and we could see that Ysrael was opening up, and then all of a sudden they hit him with violence. My question to follow up with your idea of Ysrael being treated like a prey is, do you think that Rafa thought he was exerting his manliness by hurting the weak or unfortunate such as Ysrael? He went over and beyond just to find him for the sole purpose of beating him up.

      • Imaani Cain says:

        I agree with that declaration, but I think it also has something to do with Rafa’s desire to prove himself to Yunior. He is always telling his little brother about his grand exploits, and most likely thinks that because he is the elder brother that he has to somehow show Yunior that he is tougher and better than Ysrael. His cruelty is an exercise in showing Yunior what he thinks masculinity should be.

      • Sabryne Vidal says:

        I agree with you Imaani, but I also think that Rafa besides wanting to prove himself to be better than Ysrael, is always trying to prove his masculine demeanor to Yunior to secure and protect his own male identity. Like you mention, Rafa does share some pretty gruesome and intimate details with Yunior and isn’t really shy about it either. Rafa is always bragging about his experiences, but it’s weird because Yunior is so young, and he probably doesn’t even understand what he’s talking about most of the time. Regardless, it’s like he wants to expose his brother to all the vulgar activities but only to feel better about himself for personal gain. As long as he’s able to talk about what he’s done and everything he’s accomplished in a cocky manner, then he’ll feel tougher and powerful in relation to his younger brother.
        ~Sabryne Vidal
        3/11/2013

  39. Sabryne Vidal says:

    In reading “Ysrael”, I thought that Yunior played a very “innocent” role when compared to his older brother Rafa. I think that Yunior’s at a very critical period in his life where he’s constantly absorbing information from others around him. Rafa is a major influence at this point because of Yunior always wanting to tag along and also because of how Rafa feels the need to share his hyper masculine experiences with his younger brother. In the article by John Riofrio, he mentions how both boys are fatherless because of how their father left for the states to earn a better living and in doing so, abandoned his family. This doesn’t really give the boys a chance to model after a father figure so they don’t really have an example to follow growing up. Riofrio says, ” The paucity of male role models and the unshakeable reality of their poverty leave Rafa and Yunior starved not only for food, but also for male models” and because of this reason Rafa’s masculine behavior is a result of the lack of paternal influence growing up (27). Unfortunately, the absence of his father will motivate him to look for other ways to fill that void and that is by seeking out to his peers for guidance as Riofrio also implies, “the result is that their peers and not their fathers who will be responsible for teaching them how to be men”(27). I feel like without some kind of intervention, the fatherless cycle will repeat itself all over again with Yunior. He’s still quite young, and now he’s just curious to know about what goes on around him. I perceive Rafa to be such a bad example for his brother talking about his sexual encounters and telling him how he shouldn’t be such a crier because then he’ll be considered a pussy. I thought that was just so unnecessary of him to say to a nine year old boy. At this point, as I mentioned earlier- Yunior is at a critical period in his moral and emotional development, and Rafa isn’t making it any easier. He’s forcing him to keep his feelings bottled up inside and is constantly exposing him to his hyper masculine personality. Yunior has no other choice but to follow and accept what his brother says since there is no one else to tell him otherwise.
    When finding Ysrael, the boy who had his face devoured by a pig and who now conceals it with a mask- Yunior and Rafa both start talking to him, especially Yunior who actually happens to be interested in what Ysrael has to say. He starts to empathize with him saying things like, “it must be hot…don’t you take it off…” (Diaz 17). Yunior actually shows some compassion, and this is another sign indicating how Yunior is still in a way pure at heart from masculinity. However, this is a sign of weakness because it is a feminine quality to be empathetic and since Yunior is a boy, it is unacceptable. Rafa bashes Ysreal’s head in with a glass bottle after seeing his younger brother share such a empathetic moment- this is yet another way that empathy is perceived to be a weak trait. Riofrio suggests that by Rafa doing this, he teaches his brother a lesson that this violence only happens to those who are weak like Ysrael…”it informs Yunior as to the totalizing and inevitable consequences that empathizing with another brings…” (31). It’s just sad how one innocent child could be exposed to all of this madness, even though he clearly does not understand why. It’s something preventable and there was still hope for him but the truth is that without some kind of intervention, there is no stopping the cycle that Rafa is continuing.
    Sabryne Vidal
    3/10/2013

    • Amber Jones says:

      I wholeheartedly agree that Rafa got upset when Yunior tried to show compassion toward Ysrael. I really think that Yunior is a sweetheart but he has to suppress it because he feels pressure to play a role. Since Yunior did not have his father there for him in his early stages of boyhood, all he had was his older brother Rafa, and just like a father figure Yunior wanted to make his older brother proud, even if meant going against his own feelings. I actually think the cycle of “masculinity” could be stopped. Yes, Rafa plays an immense role in shaping Yunior but he also has other influences and outside sources that could enlighten him or give him another way of thinking. With all his experiences and the people he encounters it is up to him to figure himself out.

      • emilyvanburen2013 says:

        Sabryne and Amber, I like both of your posts because I also took special notice of the fact that Rafa and Yunior’s impressions of masculinity were probably different than what they would have been had their father been involved more in their lives. As we discussed in class today (3/12/13) it is their peers, not their father who ultimately will be responsible for teaching them how to be men.

        Amber as you said, Rafa does play an important role in shaping Yunior, but my thought was, who shaped Rafa’s image of masculinity? How did Rafa come to learn attitudes, feelings and behaviors about himself and others? In addition, if Yunior and Rafa’s father hadn’t moved to America would their ideas of masculinity and their behaviors differ from what they were in the story?
        Obviously there are no definitive answers, but my bet would be that these boys would absolutely be different people.

      • Iris Foley says:

        I found myself getting angry at Rafa for teaching Yunior hypermasculine behavior and bullying, but I had to remember that he was missing a good father himself. What he knew and was teaching Yunior, he had learned from his peers, and he had probably been forced into the behavior to fit in.

  40. Lauren Carabetta says:

    I thought it was sad that the boys picked on Ysrael because of his disability. Riofrio describes how the boys saw Ysrael’s disfigurement as a weakness and they view weakness as a feminine trait (Riofrio 31). The boys ignore that Ysrael was a good wrestler, something that is stereotypically a masculine sport that highlights strength and dominance (Díaz 17, 18). The other boys also view Ysrael as feminine because he runs away from fights when they threaten him (15). This is an example of Riofrio’s idea that kids form their own visions of masculinity and they practice it with their friends (Riofrio 26, 27).

    Why does Ysrael’s appearance make him less of a man? I think Ysrael is strong because his face was mauled and he still tries to live his life the way he wants. He wrestles and flies his kite and has a positive outlook on life. I don’t think he views himself as any less masculine. I think he runs because he is faster than the other boys. That can be viewed as a masculine trait of athleticism. I bet he is the best at running and would beat any of the other boys in a race.

    • Amber Jones says:

      I think you bring up a really good question, ” why does Ysrael’s appearance make him less of a man?” In reality Ysrael’s appearance does not take away from his manhood at all but in the mind of other men , of course they would degrade him in order to left themselves up. I honestly believe that men actually like to pick on other men who differ from them. This difference can come in many forms from physical to mentally as long as there is an evident difference. By Rafa and Yunior taking the long journey just to find Ysrael to beat him up proves their lack of self confidence; they needed ( mostly Rafa) to feel reassured in their roles as men and the only way to do that was by picking on someone who was different than them.

      In this story I think Yunior learns an abundance from his big brother of how to be a man. By his brother Rafa playing into the macho man role I believe affects Yunior in the coming chapters.

    • Sabryne Vidal says:

      Lauren, I thought that you brought up some interesting questions. Like for one, why does Ysreal’s appearance make him less of a man? Like Amber, I also think that these boys need to feel that their sense of masculinity is secure. Like Riofrio said, “The true source of male anxiety rests in its very fragility, the fact that masculinity can be lost, or worse or taken away” (29). They need to feel like they have that sense of manhood and this anxiety that builds takes control of their own bodies and state of mind. I honestly don’t think that they even use their brains to think things through, it’s like they act on impulse whenever they find themselves in the position of having to prove that they are real men. The irrational behavior they display is not only symbolic of their lack of self control, but also of their own insecurities. In targeting Ysrael may be just a way for them to confirm their sense of masculine identity since they’re always so concerned with needing to feel like men. It’s as if they’re unsure or confused and seek some kind of reassurance through attacking those who they find vulnerable like Ysrael.
      ~Sabryne Vidal
      3/11/2013

      • I thought it was really interesting how the boys ignored anything that could be associated with masculinity when it came to Ysreal and all they focused on was his disability. It almost seemed as though the boys were threatened by Ysreal because they didn’t understand him, and therefore it was easier to go against him than to accept him. They seem to emphasize the traits they see as “feminine” in order to feel like they had power over him. By ostracizing Ysreal, the rest of the boys had a sense of unity with each other which was a way for the others to feel better about themselves because they were a part of the group, which gave them confidence.

    • Desiree W. says:

      A man’s image is a huge factor as to how they are perceived and where respect comes from. Your appearance is important and having a disfigured face to me is an easy target for bullying. It seems almost natural that people would pick on Ysrael despite all the things he is capable of doing. This is because people always pick on or point out things they don’t understand or find to be abnormal. Not having a “face” makes you seem Invisible or nonexistent but the fact that he has a mask makes him mysterious and something to gawk at. Ysreal is seen as feminine like you pointed out because of his lack of facial features, which is something that defines a man and also because he takes a less violent route and doesn’t respond to people’s negative remarks or runs as soon he is approached. These are nonaggressive attributes and can be seen as feminine.

    • John Wilkinson says:

      I you’re right in the complication of Ysrael’s masculinity through his injury and running away. Despite being a strong wrestler and the fastest character, Ysrael is still often portrayed as a feminine victim of both the pig attack and of the boys. I think it’s important that the attackers never seem to show their aggression outward, only through sneak attacks. Not facing up to Ysrael, and always outnumbering him, would seem to me be more contradictory of his attackers’ masculinity. However, because he is often outnumbered or snuck up on, he often has to run away and everywhere he goes, discrediting his masculinity.

  41. I think so far this may be one of my favorite reads. While it portrays another side of latino life, it is consistent with the themes of our previous readings and books. Violence and aggression seemed to be a major aspect of our readings in order to portray masculinity. When looking at the relationship with Aurora we see how violence is used to establish dominance in a relationship. It’s strange though how almost immediately after he hurts her he feels remorse for his actions. I think he doesn’t agree with using violence in his life but he simply just doesn’t know another way of handling a relationship. We can see a similar situation in our most recent book, ‘Down These Mean Streets’. The main character, Piri, uses violence and fighting to establishing because he doesn’t know any other way. When you are surrounded by violence growing up you aren’t going to realize the negative of it because it becomes more of a lifestyle than a behavior.

    Another theme present is homosexuality. Yunior isn’t as masculine or strong as his brother and begins to see this as a weakness. His emotional side leaves him feeling feminine when I don’t believe this is necessarily a feminine trait at all. While Yunior grows up in different footsteps than his brother he is feeling inferior and can’t figure out why. I think a relationship like this is found in ‘The Rain God’. The main character is a tad more emotional then the rest of his family and is looked down for it if he cries or shows his emotions. Masculinity is a label used to rank men when no two men are alike. A father looks for himself in his son and brothers try to be role models for their siblings. If this doesn’t work out and you aren’t like your family, are you not as masculine? Generations change all the time and the mark of being a man will never be the same as it once was.

    • emilyvanburen2013 says:

      Tori, I too noticed the presence of homosexuality in “Drown” pages 87-107. I didn’t so much recognize it when the author talked about how empathetic and sweet he was. I attributed Yunior’s good-natured behavior to him being a young boy of only nine years old. I did however notice the blatant homosexual behavior between the main character in pages 87-107 and Beto the narrator’s best friend. In the scene when Beto makes sexual advances towards the narrator, the narrator’s first reaction is push him away and say, “stop, what are you doing?” however, in the end the narrator lets Beto come on to him. The second and last time they have a sexual encounter the narrator does not try to stop Beto at all but ends up leaving because he feels uncomfortable with what is transpiring between them. I was surprised at the way the theme of homosexuality was introduced in this section of the book and feel bad for the narrator who struggles with his sexual identity.

  42. Imaani Cain says:

    Rafa embodies the concept of hypermasculinity to the full extent. He and his friends seem to be obsessed with grafitting the walls (I don’t know what toto means, but I do know that chocha refers to vaginas) and talking about getting with women–not just his own girlfriend, but other people’s girlfriends as well. It shows that he thinks of his sexuality as being the defining factor. Diaz has also talked about this in “The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao”, where he says that Dominican men are expected to be Lotharios from a young age. Riofio discusses that Rafa’s hypermasculine behavior is the only way he can see to combat his poverty, and that he also thinks of himself as “the man” because his father is gone. Perhaps Rafa is attempting to father Yunior in a way, and teach him how to be a man as well.

    • Amber Jones says:

      When reading I actually did not take the aspect of poverty into consideration at all. In a way I can see how poverty can play an immense role. I feel as though people who are in the realm of poverty feel like they have something to prove at all times because they evidently lack in one place in their life. Everyone who is in poverty are in a constant competition with one another to be better than the other. It is all about how many more girls you can sleep with and how more violent you can be than another. They base their masculinity on the one thing that they can control and that is their behavior. So all in all poverty is an essential factor to consider.

    • Sabryne Vidal says:

      I agree with Amber on this one, I think that poverty turns into this competition between the “haves and the have-nots”. When one lives in poverty, they live with this constant void, this emptiness that they want to fill and the only way they know how is by knowing that they’re doing better or else it turns into this constant reminder of his incapability. Rafa probably does not want to feel incapable of handling the financial situation or supporting his family and feels like he has to take on the role and responsibilities of his absent father to prove himself as a man. In doing so, combating poverty now manifests itself into an exaggerated sense of masculinity or rather hyper masculinity in this case. In the process of wanting to defeat these feelings of inadequacy and the effects of poverty, his sense of masculinity is also affected because he can now consider himself head of the household.
      ~Sabryne Vidal
      3/11/2013

    • John Wilkinson says:

      I think what is interesting about the goal to be a hypermasculine Lothario is that the conquest and sexual activity with women often revolves around it being their first time. This places certain connotations upon the act n that it is taking someone’s innocence and if it is not her first time, the girl is depicted as a slut. What also seems important is the irony of every young boy attempting to be a Lothario. There simply cannot be enough virgins for the boys to have a large amount of sex and use it as a status symbol.

  43. There were a lot of things that stuck out to me in this reading, but one of the things that stuck out the most was the part where the narrator and his brother are riding the bus, and when skip out on the fare, they run and hide, and the narrator starts to cry, and his brother shames him for being such a “pussy”. “Rafa spit. ‘You have to get tougher. Crying all the time. Do you think our papi’s crying? Do you think thats what he’s been doing for the last six years?'” It almost seems as though Rafa is attempting to take the role of his father since he left, and wants to teach his brother the things that he thinks his father would’ve taught them. Rafa is a very “machismo” character in this book. You can tell that the narrator is grateful that his big brother is taking him under his wing, even if he knows that some of the things his brother does isn’t right, he goes along with it anyway because it’s his brother and he looks up to him.
    Another thing that stuck out to me is when they went to go see Ysreal and Rafa started attacking him, even though he was trying to help them out. It seemed as though with they mention Ysreal’s father and Rafa sees the kite he got, it gets him angry and jealous because his father had never sent him anything like that, and all that jealousy turned into rage. It seems as though Rafa can’t control his emotions and he lets his emotions influence his actions, which is why he is so rebellious. In my opinion, this behavior is due in large part to his fathers absence, and lack of a father figure.

    • Sabryne Vidal says:

      I agree with you, I also sensed some jealousy whenever Ysrael mentioned how his father would usually send him American products. I do think that Rafa in a way feels “empty” because of his absent father and this essentially results in his violent act towards Ysrael. This is just another example of how he loses control of his body, and acts on impulse. Men don’t usually use their words to express how they feel, they use action and violence. This is typical behavior, especially for those who are “hyper masculine”, even if they have emotions, it’s like they don’t want to express those feelings so they resort to the next best thing and instead act with force through the assertion of physical power. It is obvious that the lack of a father figure has severely affected him and has led to his feelings of inferiority which in turn has manifested itself into a heightened sense of masculinity.
      ~Sabryne Vidal
      3/11/2013

  44. Sabryne Vidal says:

    In reading “No Face” I was so disgusted at those who taunted Ysreal for his disfigurement. They constantly target him, even though he means no harm to anyone. Riofrio mentioned, “The true source of male anxiety rests in its very fragility, the fact that masculinity can be lost, or worse or taken away” (29). I think that their constant harassment towards Ysreal is just a way to reaffirm their own masculine identity. They’re probably insecure and just having the slightest doubt on the issue is unacceptable to them so they must act in hyper masculine acts to secure their macho persona and confirm that they are in fact men. In the following quote, “the fat boy with the single eyebrow sits on his chest and his breath flies out of him…the others stand over him and he’s scared. We’re going to make you a girl…you ever been a girl before? I betcha he hasn’t. It ain’t a lot of fun…(Diaz 156). These boys just dislike Ysreal because of his disability, something he is unable to control and for this reason they victimize him just as they would any other girl.
    By wanting to make him a girl throughout this encounter, it’s like they’re doing this to put him in that oppressed position where they all have control, to them it’s a thrill. Because these boys are so opposed to having a shred of femininity in their bodies, they try to avoid doing anything that falls within the definition of being a woman- and since empathy is considered to be a feminine trait, known to be a sign of weakness, they don’t show it. Instead they show apathy as men should, and express no concern for Ysreal’s condition. Also, because to them “weakness, disfigurement and nonconformity are all vulnerabilities that should be castigated”, they choose to feminize Ysreal and make him their female target, by doing so they’re able to assert their power over him and expose their intended lack of compassion- something that falls within the realm of what it means to be man (Riofrio 31). It’s just so disappointing how driven these boys are, and just to prove that they are men. They’re so fixated on this goal, it’s like it’s their purpose for living. What they don’t realize is that this ideal masculinity they have is purely fabricated. It’s made up of different components that for some reason have been put together to define what is manhood. It’s crazy how the true victims in this case, are the neurotic males who obsess over whether or not they’re masculine enough and the ones who are freed from the effects of masculinity are those who have not yet been exposed to its influence, Yunior.
    ~Sabryne Vidal
    3/11/2013

    • I agree with you completely. The way that Ysreal was treated was extremely disturbing and it definitely seems as though the reason that the boys go out of their way to torture him physically and emotionally is because they think that it somehow makes them more “manly”, and also because it was a way to express their own insecurities without actually dealing with them. It is disappointing to me that they resort to violence. Ysreal was trying to help them out, and they took advantage of his kindness and innocence. It even seemed as though the narrator was almost befriending Ysreal, but once he saw how Rafa was treating him, he immediately joined in because he looked up to his brother and wanted to emulate his attitude and behavior.

    • emilyvanburen2013 says:

      Sabryne, I thought your analysis of masculinity and the avoidance of femininity portrayed in this book was very good. The part in the book where Rafa sarcastically asks Yunior if he wants to be a girl, and then makes the statement that it’s not very fun being a girl, has to do with the theme of masculinity being the very opposite of what femininity is (a theme which we discussed very early in the semester). I agree it is very sad that these boys of nine and twelve are so focused and driven to prove their manliness. But I wonder who they try to prove it to…themselves? their friends? their family? the world? and should it ever matter to an innocent child of nine and even twelve how many girls they have had sexual encounters with, or how tough they can act in front of their peers when embarrassing and harming a peer? I think your analysis is correct, these boys are frightened that their masculinity could be lost or taken away if they demonstrate compassion or sympathy.

  45. Desiree W. says:

    The characters in Drown are good examples of a growing generation; I have witnessed/overheard several conversations by little boys and their peers or older campers have spoken in a manner that is almost like advice. Rafa is the typical older “macho” big brother image that Yunior innocently wants to follow and impress. Its hard to think that at the tender age of 12 and 9 these young boys would be concerned with sex and already having so many encounters to the fact that they can make comparisons with girls from different areas. Rafa to me is this overly masculine image that Yunior is seeking approval from. They have a mother that is “too busy” to watch them while school id out so she turns to sending them to a camp. To me this kind of leaves the boys to raise themselves.
    In comparison to the other books we have read so far, Yunior is placed in a racial complex right off the back with how his brother teases him, which is supposed to be his role model/idol based on how he tries to get his brother to stick around him. Yunior is made fun of by being called the “Haitian,” and being told that he was “found on the boarder.” This right off the back set him up to suffer from a complex about his racial identity and what he sees as attractive. Like Piri he will have to face this sense of loss for identity since he’s darker that his brother who he is trying to “be just like.” It’s also sad to see the fabrication of Ysrael’s face and mask story and how the gore of the accident is made to sound cool by Rafa as if he’s not a human being and some strange animal. It’s also sad that the adults in their lives during this time don’t help the situation any better because they feed into the stories as well.

    • Iris Foley says:

      I actually didn’t pick up on the racial comments Yunior got from his brother when I first read through the story. Now that you’ve pointed them out, I think it makes more sense that Yunior has an underlying racial identity complex which might have subconsciously caused him to be more receptive to his brother wanting to go find Ysrael and bullying him himself. In questioning his own identity, he was more willing to find the flaws in Ysrael and bully him for them. Rafa might also have had an identity complex, but rather than a racial one, I think he experienced a responsibility/age/masculinity one. He was unsure of himself and his role in the household and as a man due to their father being so far away. Due to his young age, Rafa lashed out at his brother and later at Ysrael.

  46. Amber Jones says:

    The short story of Ysreal is very convicting and forces the reader to look deeper into the role of masculinity. I would first like to quote Fuller who states, ” you aren’t born a man; it is a title earned through action, often violent action” (Riofrio 24). I really liked this quote because it shows the importance of not having a title when you are born; when you’re born you are nothing more than a human being. You are not born understanding what a man should do or how he should act, in reality all you understand is what you see. This relates to Yunior and his brother Rafa. Yunior did not understand what it took to be a socially accepted male so he looked up to his older brother. Through his experiences with his older brother he was able to create his sexual script since his father was absent. “ In the case of the two brothers. Rafa and Yunior, the absence of their father compounds the fact that masculinity is already a slippery, shifting terrain. In their case, the process of redefinition is sparked by a dramatic shift in their understanding of how to go about acquiring trappings of men ( Riofrio 27). So both the brothers were stuck in a rough place because they did not have anyone to look up to as an example. Rafa especially is only trying to imitate what he thought he should be like, but mostly he was going off a blank slate. All they knew of their father was that he had to leave in order to create a better life for them all, ” The poverty which plagues the island has created a situation in which survival depends upon fathers leaving the island to try and carve out a better life for themselves and their families (Riofrio 26). Although Rafa and Yunior knew why their father left I wonder if his absence created a sense of hostility and hurt? And if it created hurt, do you think this hurt and pain guided their actions to be violent towards others, or to be hyper-masculine?

    • Brittany Demers says:

      I wondered if the missing father had an effect on Yunior and Rafa as well. I really think it did because since they did not have their father around from a young age, I don’t think they had a good idea of “how a man should act”. I think that this caused them to pick up masculine traits from friends and other people. I think that this could have caused the hurt towards Ysrael. Maybe if their father was around the boys could have learned something from him, like how to be respectful to people who are different from them. They are both children, and many of the masculine traits they are trying out like graffiti and hurting people, are impulsive and immature decisions. I think a father with a good head on his shoulders could have kept this from happening.

      • Desiree W. says:

        I also wonder what it would be like if these boys had a father or father figure if it would have made a difference as to how they behave? Rafa has this ideal image of how a man should be and act. In the short story we don’t really understand where or when Rafa picked up these images of how a male should act but he has a pretty strong hold on what he thinks he should do. For example, his over sexuality at the innocent age of 12 is baffling, since most kids his age still think girls have “cooties,” I really want to know who thought him these actions and what are his role models.

  47. Becky Taylor says:

    A section from the chapter entitled “Drown” caught my attention while reading. The protagonist is swimming in a pool and reflects, “While everything above is loud and bright, everything below is whispers. And always the risk of coming up to find the cops stabbing their searchlights out across the water. And then everyone running, wet feet slapping across the concrete, yelling, Fuck you, officers, you puto sucios, fuck you” (Diaz 93). I’d like to juxtapose this segment with Down These Mean Streets, and discuss how the characters of both texts interact with the police forces in their environments.
    Looking back on this section after discussion in class Tuesday, this section may be read as an example of the protagonist’s sexuality panic he experiences following two sexual interactions with his best friend. Drowning represents the feeling the protagonist gets while he is with Beto, and he fears being found in that state, particularly by unsympathetic parties like the police. In class we talked about connections between this scene and the scene from Down These Mean Streets in which Piri and his friends have sexual encounters with older gay men, and I think one link between these scenes is the dissociation experienced by both Piri and Diaz’s protagonist. Although there are different motivations behind their respective situations, both characters separate from reality during their sexual experiences with other men. It’s possible that both characters are actively engaging in denial of their experiences.

    • Iris Foley says:

      I like the connection you made between the “dissociation” experienced by both Piri in DTMS and the Drown narrator. I made the same connection myself while reading. While their methods were different, I do think that both characters were actively trying to escape the situations they found themselves in. They both seemed overwhelmed with feeling and in denial. I do think, however, that the Drown narrator had a much more emotional connection with Beto, causing him to agree to another encounter later in the story, possibly because Beto was the only person he really had any emotional attachment to. Piri never went back to the older gay men but did find multiple women to sleep with after his “sexual awakening.” I think he used sex and women as an outlet, a temporary escape from his problems.

  48. Iris Foley says:

    The selection that made me think most deeply this week was Ysrael. The relationship between the narrator, Yunior, and his brother, Rafa, was definitely an interesting one – I found it hard to believe that Rafa was only 12 years old but was already very sexually active, so active that his 9-year-old brother was aware of it. I suppose Rafa felt older than he was because the brothers led very independent lives in the summers when they were sent away from home to live with their uncle in the country. In addition, their father was a distant figure in their lives living in New York City and only sending them gifts around the holidays. I think Rafa , though he was only 12, felt like the man of the house and was forced to mature beyond his years at an early age – how old the girls he’s having sex with are is never mentioned. Rafa seemed to visualize the father as a tough guy, a provider, not a “pussy.” And the father lived in America, a place of opportunity that the brothers wanted to eventually go to.
    Yunior was only reminded by his brother to toughen up and be a man and to do so he did things he knew were wrong like riding the bus without paying. His brother led him on their search for Ysrael, the disfigured boy in town who was a constant target of bullying and taunting. I think Yunior had no real interest in seeing Ysrael’s face and making fun of him. He only went with his brother to impress him and prove that he could hang with him. But why was Rafa so obsessed with seeing Ysrael’s face? That’s one of the questions I want to address in our discussion and presentation today. I think Rafa wanted to feel better about himself and his masculinity by seeing someone who was almost inhuman to him. He saw Ysrael as less than a person because he was forced to wear a mask to hide his disfigurement. Ysrael couldn’t fully live his life and express himself like a real “man.”

    • Brittany Demers says:

      I think you are right about the brothers feeling older because they were very independent. It’s weird to me to place these ages with the brothers because I feel that a 9 and a 12-year-old are still innocent children. Along with the brothers, there are also other boys act mischievous and girls participating in sexual acts with Rafa. This makes me wonder if the people that Rafa is around a lot are older. Could he be learning things from them? Maybe he heard some of his friends talking about getting with girls and decided to do it too? I also think that since their father was not close by for advice that this contributed to their actions.

      • I think that you bring up a good point in regards to the brothers interaction with Ysreal. I also got the feeling that Yunior had no interest in seeing Ysreal or taunting or fighting him. I think that it seemed as though Yunior may have even befriended Ysreal had it not been for the way that his brother treated Ysreal.

        I also wondered about who Rafa’s influences are, and given his knowledge and behavior regarding sex, it seems very probable that he hangs around kids that are older than him and looks up to them, and therefore imitates their behavior because he thinks that it will make him cool. He then tries to teach Yunior this behavior, because he wants his brother to have someone to look up to and learn from, even if it is negative behavior.

      • Amber Jones says:

        I think the question that Melanie brings up about where did Rafa’s influences come from is a very essential. In class we talked about the distinction between city life in the United States and el campo in the Dominican Republic. We stated that city life offers immense populations that are exposed to ads and outside sources whereas el campo is more isolated and there is a smaller population. I feel like in el campo Rafa most likely depended on his peers for insight on how to be a man. I remember one student saying that a person can learn more from their peers than from adults, I would have to disagree with this statement. How can young people learn from one another when they, themselves are in the process of trying to figure out the world? Its kind of like the blind leading the blind.

  49. emilyvanburen2013 says:

    I enjoyed reading both Drown by Junot Diaz and the analysis of Drown by John Riofrio. In Riofrio’s critique of Drown he quoted a psychologist about how masculinity is obtained, “you aren’t born a man; it is a title earned through action, often violent action” (Fuller, 25). I took this to mean that men have to behave in certain ways in order to earn their masculinity. In Drown, these behaviors included being violent, sexually active, tough and emotionally removed. I believe Rafa tried and successfully demonstrated these behaviors in the first chapter of the book, Ysrael. Rafa was a hyper-sexualized preteen who dragged his younger brother to see Ysrael, a boy who’s face was severely disfigured as a baby. Rafa encouraged Yunior to bother Ysrael about his mask and eventually when Rafa was fed up with Yunior being kind to Ysrael, Rafa violently attacked Ysrael and pulled his mask off to view his disfigured face. This behavior enforces Rafa’s masculinity. He is tough and takes down anyone he wants to. The entire ride home he doesn’t say anything even when Yunior is visibly upset, which enforces the fact that he is emotionally removed.

    Riofrio made a great point when he was explaining how Yunior was considered empathetic and therefore feminine. He said, “the empathizer is one who tends to abandon his self-consciousness; one’s identity fuses with another.” If I did not know what the word empathy meant and I was trying to gauge its definition from this sentence I would think being empathetic would be a good thing. A feeling that a good-natured human being would feel. However, in this story and in most masculine cultures being empathetic is associated with being feminine which men try to avoid being at all costs. I found that my view points aligned with Riofrio’s because after reading his article I felt that I connected with the points he had made.

    • Kaydo says:

      Riofrio makes an excellent point that Emapthy should and is a good thing, but in the rite of passage of masculinity it must be avoided. I believe masculinity is a characteristic that is supposed to individualize each man into his own. Sharing the feelings of others is saw to be diminishing of the individualized man. We see it in the media all the time where the man is all about setting the right priorities and empathy could cloud those priorities. We live in a society where the individual matters most. Families are no longer in band together with a lines of kin. Now it is normal for a young man to move his family away and begin his own legacy.

      • Joseph C. Sokola says:

        I would certainly agree on the points that are made about empathy and masculinity, and that showing too much empathy could cause one to be considered less masculine. However, I think that in order to be a true man, one must be able to not only see himself as an individual with his own interests, but to also show a balance between empathy and individualism. It may be true that a display of empathy may cause one to be seen as feminine by others. It may also be true that to simply consider one’s own interests is a common occurrence in today’s society, but continuing to show a bit of empathy and selflessness makes one a true gentleman.

  50. Kaydo says:

    (This is after the deadline date, but I wanted to comment)

    No Face is a very unique literature. Something a little different than we have been reading and I can only imagine the life this young boy lived with the struggles of becoming a man and following his brother’s womanizing footsteps and his father’s absent steps. How can a boy become a man with a false identity or without an identity at all. Most men fight for Machismo due to a search for a respectable and status identity. If a boy hid his face, there is no way for him to attain a respectable position in his community.

    The interesting thing about Junot Diaz’s Book Drown is that even though each story is different, they must relate in some way that was influenced by Diaz’s own life. Each story shows a character struggling to attain some sort of goal, but he/she is crippled by an event or a situation that could very well be a part of Diaz’s life or maybe a childhood friend of Diaz’s.

    • I agree with Kaydo that No Face is very unique in that we haven’t really dealt with issues of disfigurement, in the literal sense. We have dealt with the idea that people’s looks make them more or less “desirable” based on what the normative and dominant group in society is, however. This is to say: the struggles that Ysreal faces aren’t completely unlike the ones that Piri faced.
      I also agree that our face is what is first seen and remembered by the people we meet in our lives, and that is the reason why our worth is so closely tied to what we look like. I think that hiding who we are is a sure fire way to not gain respect in society, but I also blame society for taking the value away from a face and making individuals feel as if they SHOULD hide, for any reason.

    • Nelson Veras says:

      I had the same opinion of No Face as well. The young boy ran away from his true identity by hiding his face, which is the reason he gets bullied by other kids. He has to face these challenges that makes the reader feel sympathy for him. I do feel as if this story occurred to someone close to him which inspired him to write about it. All of his short stories have meaning so I could only imagine that this exceptional piece of literature has meaning as well.

  51. Joseph C. Sokola says:

    The storiy of Ysreal showed a lot from the perspectives of Yunior and his older brother Rafa. As they do not have a father to look up to because he lives and works in New York, they have to learn how to act like a man without proper guidance, similar to previous stories that have been read in this class. Rafa is a twelve year old womanizer because that is what he seems to think is what makes one a true man. Yunior looks up to his brother and is influenced by him. His enthusiasm for accompanying Rafa when going to find Ysreal shows how much he wants to spend time with him. In a way, Rafa takes on a fatherly role for Yunior. In a way that is similar to how Piri often joined his friends to do things simply because he wanted to fit in with them, Yunior follows his brother to find Ysreal simply because he wants to belong.’

    It is certainly sad that Ysreal is the target of young kids in the town because of his face, and the urge to belong could also be a factor for why he is chased around by the other kids so much. Because of the fact that Ysreal is considered different, the other boys may think of him as less masculine because he is less able to do certain things that they consider masculine. For example, Ysreal would not be hitting on girls like Rafa tries to do.

    • Becky Taylor says:

      You mention here as we did in class that Rafa tends to act as a father figure to his brother, Yunior. This is a thread I’ve noticed throughout the readings for this class and it’s worth further discussion. Sibling relationships have been significant in Freak!, Down These Mean Streets, Raising Victor Vargas, and Drown. At the beginning of the semester we mentioned that “family oriented” is a stereotype about Latinos, and it’s important to separate the category of family into different relationships, since relationships between parents and children are different from those children have with each other. Moving forward, I’d like to discuss characters’ family interactions in greater depth.

    • While it is true that they do not have a father “to look up to,” I don’t know if we can say for sure whether they would have received “proper guidance” from their father, if he were present. I don’t think we can say for sure what proper guidance to becoming a man even means, really.
      I do think that we can ascertain that they looked for ways to act by watching each other and the people in their lives that weren’t part of their family. Ysreal’s face is a definite reason why he was made fun of so much, and I do believe that it demasculinized him to the other children in a way, because it made him less “attractive” by the standard way of assigning atrractiveness.

  52. Audrey Allyn says:

    Facelessness usually synonymous with invisibility, but here it represents something that stands out, he is scorned, pitied, hated, feared. The Rafa and his brother Yunior taunt Ysrael because he represents something they fear. The fact that you might suffer the fate that he does and that what actually defines you to the outside world is stripped away. He is a stranger is a place where he doesn’t fit in and wont fit in. While he is scorned and beaten, he is also the object of curiosity. The fact that he wears a mask makes it more of an object of wonder, what’s behind the mask? When the boys finally reveal the face behind it, it makes them feel worse, almost with a sense of powerlessness.
    Ysrael can represent the fact that his deformity has brought him a sense of power and the sole fact that he is a survivor. Everyday he is tormented and gawked at and he is stronger for it. I think that because he has this deformity he feels the need to be stronger and faster than the other people, but in his case he doesn’t use it to make up for the fact he doesn’t have a face, he uses it to survive.

    • Joseph C. Sokola says:

      You bring up some interesting points about how Ysreal is empowered and could be considered a survivor because of his everyday struggles. In a way, this has changed my mind a bit about how Ysreal is actually stronger than Yunior and Rafa because he is able to face his troubles everyday. The fact that he is able to continue with his life despite all the torment that he must endure from the other children shows that perhaps he is the only true man out of all of them. Although a character such as Rafa may think that he is a real man or at least growing up to be one, his inability to be mature about Ysreal and his deformed face until he sees it for himself could definitely mean that he is more of a child than a man. At the same time, Ysreal is more of a man because he can survive and continue on with his difficult life in which he is seen differently.

  53. Nelson Veras says:

    The short story “Negocios” was very interesting. Papi wasn’t the stereotypical Latino man but he made attempts at being one. When arriving to the United States be sent money occasionally to his family and would even stay broke for the week just to be able to provide for his family. He made sacrifices, which is what a Latino man is expected to do for his family. Throughout time, especially when finding a new family, Papi basically betrayed his family back in DR. Even though he worked consistently and had a steady flow of income he never provided for his family back home nor the family he mysteriously created in New York. He didn’t pay for rent when living with NIlda but he criticized Eoulio for buying clothes instead of paying rent when rooming with him. This makes him a hypocrite and have lack of respect for him for not being able to support neither of his families yet having consistent jobs.

    Throughout the story he was given a handful of chances. It all begins when he got the opportunity from his father in-law to come to the U.S by providing him with enough money to buy a plane ticket. He promised to make his daughter proud, in which he partially did. Even though he didn’t provide her with money at times eventually he brought his family to the U,S. That was his ultimate goal but at times he was distracted and selfish. He was very unappreciative and was easily noticed when he free loaded off of Nilda and didn’t do anything a husband should have done. He didn’t pay bills and was lazy, seen when he made her get him beer and change the channel for him. He was given numerous chances and in return acted selfishly. He is not a good example of a good stereotypical Latino father. Despite bringing his family to the U.S, Papi betrayed his family and was poorly provided as he said he would

  54. Audrey Allyn says:

    In the short story, Negocios we follow the narrator’s father and his journey to New York to work and bring his family to the states. The narrator’s father “Papi” relates everything he does to himself and to business. He leaves his entire family behind and essentially starts over in the states with a new one. Throughout this story there are a lot different ways that Papi can be seen as selfish. In this beginning he sends what he makes and scrapes by on what is left, but he stops when he starts to save up money to find a new wife in American so that he can gain citizenship. His original thought in coming to the states was so that he could bring his family over, but he put this on hold until it was beneficial to him.
    Papi linked his business life with his family. He never started over in New York and remarried because he loved her, he did it so that he would benefit from it. Diaz writes, “Papi had difficulty separating the two threads of his friend’s beliefs, that of negocios and that of familia, and in the end the two became impossibly intertwined” (191). His new life in the states was almost like a business to him. I think that Papi started over in the states with a new family to almost regain his dignity from leaving his family behind. He needed to show his masculinity that he could raise a family and take care of them, when he knows that he failed to do so with his first family.

    • I agree with you that this book portrays the Latino lifestyle also from the family lifestyle. Papi is only doing things to benefit him and only looks out for himself. I believe to an extent humans are prawn to thinking of themselves rather then thinking of others. Most of the time we do things just to prove to everyone that we can do things on our own and don’t need help from other people to prove that we are strong enough without the help of someone else. I don’t believe that this trait is just a Latino trait, I believe that this is just a human nature trait and often times people will think of machismo and masculinity to be a Latino trait but in reality its not.

  55. Iris Foley says:

    No Face gave us a different view of Ysrael than the one we established in Ysrael two weeks ago when we met him through the eyes of Rafa and Yunior. This story allowed us to follow him through one day in his life, a day in which he suffered through being mocked and bullied to the point of physical exhaustion. Ysrael woke up and worked out first thing in the morning. I think his strength and speed were the two qualities he loved most about himself – and possibly the only two qualities he could like about himself. They were the only things that made him feel like he was worth something, like he was a man. But when he was ganged up on by a large group and overpowered, there was nothing even his strength could do. The cruel bullies searched him out just to mock him, even trying to de-masculinize him and take away the only confidence he had.

    Reading No Face, my heart really went out to Ysrael. I felt so sorry for him that even his own family was ashamed of his face and that the only solace and safe place he had was in the church. Even walking down the street minding his own business, Ysrael was harassed by passerby. He just couldn’t catch a break. Throughout the day he seemed to only feel comfortable in the presence of Lou, the man who later brought him to the hospital to see the doctor and brought him to get comic books. Lou seemed to understand how to make the best of the situation for Ysrael. I think, as was pointed out in the first story we read, there was some understanding that Ysrael’s face would never truly be fixed, but Lou didn’t let Ysrael believed that. He knew that that fact might break him. It was the hope of a better and different future that kept Ysrael going.

  56. Drown was an extremely interesting essay. The first half the book beginning of a young boy and it shows his experiences growing up in America. In the book we were able to see the importance of family but we also see that machismo and how women were often sexually objectified. I believe that the boys family life is what ultimately shapes a boy’s masculinity. The was always in fear of his father and the only time they truly interacted with him was when he would react violently towards him or his brother.
    Were are able to see these traits played in the Latinos portals. I believe that this is something that is portrayed by many Latino men. When really it may be a couple of people that are machismo or violent towards their family, I believe that most people look at the negative rather then the positive in most situations. Most people don’t take the time and look at the whole society that there are great fathers that don’t beat their wife or children or don’t do drugs. We are able to see in society that many minority groups are looked down upon without truly knowing what’s right or what’s wrong.

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