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 is quite harmful to adolescents because it is something that can scar them for life. Children won’t know their worth, how to love, or, how to be happy if they have been neglected by their parents, which is why parents should not show any signs of negligence to their offspring. This novel is centered around a problematic Mixed-Puerto Rican family. 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-... ... middle of paper ... ...ribes a scene between the sons and the parents, in which the sons started beating upon them and telling them how bad their parenting is. Normally, parents would punish their children for this act, however, Ma and Paps don’t because they know it is true. Do they try to better themselves as parents? No, they do not because they continue to neglect the children after this situation. Torres’s purpose for the passage above is to get readers, mainly parents, to reflect on how much they interact with their offspring. The author wants make sure that parents are raising their children in a healthy environment so that children don’t feel like “mud” or “horseshit”. Feeling that way can lead to a problematic, miserable life. Why did Ma and Paps abuse their children in this way? Had they been there for them emotionally, would they still refer to themselves as We the Animals?

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