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Dysfunctional Family In We The Animals By Justin Torres

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In his debut novel entitled We the Animals, Justin Torres exposes a story centered around a dysfunctional family. One can argue that the novel consists of multiple small stories instead of one continuous story. The family consists of a mother, father, and their three young sons. Ranging from ages 7-10, Manny is the first-born, followed by Joel the middle child, and Mijo is the baby of the family. It is told from the point of view of the youngest son, whose name is not revealed until the ending of the novel. Readers find out that his name is Mijo during a touching scene between him and his father. Mijo recounts different experiences him and his brothers faced growing up in their home. Torres uses those experiences to depict how negligence…show more content…
The father is Puerto Rican and the mother is white and they conceived their sons at an early age. Their sons refer to them as “Ma” and “Paps”. The environment the sons are brought up in isn’t the best; the family is poor. Being in that type of environment is stressful and from a parent’s perspective, the only goal is to get out of that environment. “We woke to the sound of Paps digging out back, his grunt, his heave, his shovel hack…. If Paps had looked up, we would have appeared to him like a three-torsoed beast, but he didn’t look up…. We walked over and stood around the edge and peered down inside. ‘I’ll never get out of here,’Paps said” (Torres75-76). This describes the scene of when the sons found Paps out back digging a hole. As you know from the previous quote, Paps is trying to escape a bad situation and his main focus was to escape, however, he was neglecting his…show more content…
Torres uses the words like “mud” and “horseshit” to reveal how low and unwanted the eldest son feels. When we think of “mud” or “horseshit”, our first reaction would be to step over it or avoid the area that contains it at all costs. In this case, the people avoiding the “horseshit” are their parents. Not only that, but Torres includes the statement “we’re on our own” to further depict how neglectful the parents have been to their sons. Being the oldest, Manny is considered to be the responsible on because it states that., “Paps assumed it was all Manny’s idea because Manny was the oldest and because it was, actually, all Manny’s idea. He didn’t wait to get home but beat Manny right there in the field” (Torres83). Readers can infer that no matter what happens, Manny will always be the father’s “punching bag” whenever the boys would do something bad, which makes him feel unworthy as well. Then there’s Joel, the middle child. In most families, the middle child is never really glorified. It is as if they are a filler or some sort because the eldest child will always be praised for being head of the sibling clan, the youngest can be deemed the “favorite”, while the middle child is just there. Torres shows this by not giving readers the full Joel. Readers don’t know how Joel feels because, he wasn’t taught how to express his emotions, which parents should teach their child. Finally, there is Mijo; the youngest. Mijo,
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