Drown is a novel by Junot Diaz. It tells the story of a Dominican family living in New Jersey. The father, Domingo, is an abusive husband and father. The mother, Beli, is a hardworking woman who tries to make ends meet. The children, Yunior and Rafa, are caught in the middle of their parents’ conflict. Drown is a story about family, love, and loss.
Drown, written by Junot Diaz and published in 2005, is a collection of ten short stories that chronicles the difficulties Dominican Republic immigrants face in the United States while pursuing the American Dream. Yunior navigates between Dominican and American cultures in Drown, as he tries to figure out how to reconcile them.
He confronts many challenges, including poverty, violence, and racism. Diaz’s writing style is lyrical and often uses humor to explore the characters’ experiences.
Drown is a powerful collection of stories that offers insights into the immigrant experience in America. Junot Diaz’s writing is beautiful and moving, and his characters are complex and fully developed. Drown is an important contribution to literature about the immigrant experience, and it is sure to resonate with readers who have experienced similar struggles.
In order to illustrate this continual conflict, Junot Diaz employs Spanish words in his English to show how cultural differences between the United States and the Dominican Republic disadvantage those who do not speak English. For example, Yunior is seen as a Dominican citizen who values his culture’s language in that country. His frequent usage of Spanish phrases reveals this.
In America, however, he is forced to change his language in order to fit in and be accepted. This ultimately leads to Yunior losing a part of his identity. In addition, Diaz uses Spanish words as a way to show how the cultural divide between America and the Dominican Republic can create feelings of loneliness and isolation.
For instance, when Yunior is trying to read an English book, he does not understand many of the words. This causes him to feel frustrated and alone. However, when he reads a Spanish book, he is able to understand it and feel a part of his culture. Ultimately, Diaz’s use of Spanish words highlights the importance of language and culture in shaping one’s identity.
In “Ysrael,” for example, Yunior says, “The cock crows the next morning. Rafa threw the ponchera in the weeds before collecting our shoes from the patio, avoiding stepping on Tia’s cacao bean pile,” (Diaz 9). The use of Spanish phrases within English phrases draws the reader into Yunior’s native country.
As the story progresses, Diaz gives more English translations for Spanish words, allowing the reader to feel as if he or she is part of the Dominican culture. Diaz’s purpose for Drown is to educate readers about the struggles immigrants face when they come to America and have to start a new life. althout Yunior eludes to many of the hardships his family faced, such as poverty and violence, he speaks mainly about his brother’s journey to America. In “Fresa” Yunior writes:
Rafa had wanted to go to America since he was nine years old and first heard la gringa singing on the radio…He swore he’d never be like Papi and stay here getting his heart broken by some guayaba-thieving puta. He was going to make it big, see the world. Be somebody (Diaz 34).
Although Yunior is envious of his brother’s journey to America, he does not want the same fate. Yunior wants stability and a family; two things he knows he will not find in America. Diaz uses Drown as a way to bring light to the harsh realities immigrants face when they come to America in search of the “American Dream”. Diaz also touches on the idea that sometimes people are forced to leave their country and everything they know and love behind. In “Negocios”, Yunior tells the story of his Uncle Ramon, who had to leave the Dominican Republic and his family, in order to provide for them.
Ramon had always promised Mami he’d come back for her when he made his fortune in America. He even sent her a ticket once, but she never used it. By then she was too old to start over again and besides, what kind of life would she have had here without Papi? (Diaz 193)
Although Ramon eventually brings his family over to America, the process is long and difficult. Yunior’s aunt and cousins are forced to live in squalor while Ramon works long hours at a factory in order to make enough money to support them all. Diaz uses Drown to show the reader that sometimes people have to make sacrifices in order to provide for their families.
Diaz also uses Drown as a way to show the reader that the American Dream is not always what it seems. In “Aurora”, Yunior tells the story of his cousin, who comes to America in search of a better life, but instead finds only violence and poverty.
He’d wanted to go north ever since he was a little boy and now that he was finally here he felt like anything was possible…But it turned out that New York was just another version of Santo Domingo. The same heat, the same smells, even the same kind of people. Only they spoke English here (Diaz 208).
Although Yunior’s cousin is disappointed with what he finds in America, he is still determined to make the best of it. He works hard and eventually opens his own bodega. Yunior’s cousin is a prime example of the American Dream; he came to America with nothing and through hard work and determination, was able to build a life for himself. Diaz uses Drown to show that although the American Dream is not always what it seems, it is still possible to achieve if you are willing to work for it.
In conclusion, Drown is a collection of stories about the struggles immigrants face when they come to America. Diaz uses his own experiences as an immigrant to show the reader the harsh realities of life in America. Although the journey is not always easy, Diaz shows that it is possible to find success in America if you are willing to work for it.