The story of immigrant struggles is the major theme in “Drown” byJunot Diaz. Every immigrant has a personal story, pains and joys, fears andvictories, and Daz portrays much of his own story of immigrant life in Drown,a collection of 10 short stories.
This book captures the fury and alienation ofthe Dominican immigrant experience very well. Other immigrants’ grief’s alsocome up in Daz’s short stories. My argument for this paper delves with thequestion of is this book merely storytelling or is it autobiographical? Also, itseemed to me as if he uses some symbols and specific words (mostly verbs) toexpress himself in a manner which the reader can almost feel the story as if itwere real. The book tells of the barrios of the Dominican Republic and thestruggling urban communities of New Jersey. This book is very strong and thesestories tell of a sense of discovery from a young man’s perspective.Order now
It seems asthough for the immigrants, even when things are at their best, a highprobability of calamity looms just around the corner. Uncertainty is the onlycertainty for these outsiders, who live in communities that, are “separatedfrom all the other communities by a six-lane highway and the dump. ” Ittells of a world in which fathers are gone; mothers fight with determination fortheir families and themselves. Drown brings out the conflicts, yearnings, andfrustrations that have been a part of immigrant life for centuries. Diaz himselflived in such a world.
In each of his stories Diaz uses a first-person narratorwho is observing others. Boys and young drug dealers narrate eight of thesetales. Their struggles shift from life in the barrios of the Dominican Republicto grim existence in the slums of New Jersey. These young boys could be thevoice of Junot Diaz himself. If so, why would the book be a fiction? Thecharacters in these stories wrestle with recognizable traumas. Yunior and Rafain “Ysrael” and “Fiesta 1990” confront the pain of growingup, the loss of innocence, and how misfortune just happens to fall upon them.
In”Drown”, “Edison, New Jersey”, “Aurora,” weglimpse into anger stemming from unearned suffering, the embarrassment ofpoverty, the confusion of loving a Crackhead, and shock of reality. “Drown” tells of an impoverished, fatherless youth in the DominicanRepublic and his struggle with immigrant life in New Jersey. It shows pain andsuffering very accurately. The last and longest of the stories, “Negocios,”reconstructs the adventures of Ramon, the father who left his wife and childrenbehind to try to make it in the States. It is told from the point of Yunior, theyoungest son. “Negocios,” points up this collection’s one weakness.
Itis a chronicle of his father’s immigration, remarriage and, finally, therescuing of his children and first wife from their bleak life in the DominicanRepublic. In this book, words used show lots of meaning (strong use of verbs). By doing this Diaz has managed to physically imprint the reality of hischaracters so as to make them seen. The characters step out of the plots sovibrantly real.
What I enjoyed about this book is that there was no use ofItalics or any other editorial assistance for the reader. This showed me that heis taking a stand against the use of Italics. It’s almost as though Diaz iswriting in a diary and there is no need for such things. Also, these stories arenot read like stories, they are more like a sociological study. The feelings andthe observations jump off the page so much so that the stories appear very muchautobiographical.
Again bringing up the point of whether it should be classifiedfiction or non-fiction. Daz never loses sight of the telling details ofimmigrant life stateside. He describes food from the perspective of a Dominicanboy who eats only boiled yucca and platano. The yucca and platano is a symbol ofhis poverty and hunger in “Aguantando.
” Then he writes about everyonegetting obese in America; even the immigrants themselves. This simple abundanceof food gets to the imagination of immigrants, enduring for many years as thenewcomer’s fascination with the United States. The picture inside the plasticbag of the father in “Aguantando” is one of the symbols. This is asymbol of an absentee father; present in more that one story.
The governmentcheese, was also a symbol of hunger and poverty. It was both treasured andhated. He was amazed at the generosity of Americans but at the same time he wasashamed by it. “Clear the government cheese from the refrigerator”(Diaz 143) What I do like about Drown is Daz’s ability to dramatize thetragedies of immigrants without making everything seem over dramatic or fake. Asan immigrant who shared several of these experiences, as a young stranger in astrange land, I find this narrative very accurate.
Drown offers a dignifiedportrayal of immigrant life because of the reality behind it.