Yunior’s Journey of Maturation in Junot Díaz’s Drown
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Junot Díaz’s Drown, a collection of short stories, chronicles the events of Yunior and his family. Each story focuses Yunior and his struggle growing up as a Dominican immigrant and finding a place for himself within American society. Throughout the progression of the novel, Yunior realizes the stereotypes placed on him and recognizes that being white is advantageous. Yunior’s experience growing up both in the Dominican Republic and the States has shaped his perspective on life and life choices.
Growing up poor in the Dominican Republic strongly influenced the choices Yunior makes later in his life. In “Aguantando” Yunior recalls about how poverty was a part of his life. Díaz writes, “We were poor. The only way we could have been poorer was to have lived in the campo or to have been Haitian immigrants…We didn’t eat rocks but we didn’t eat meat or beans either” (Díaz, 70). This depiction of Yunior’s early childhood sets the stage for what is to come. Yunior’s choices as an adolescent proves that he either chooses not to or cannot better his situation instead he turns to drugs and alcohol. Yunior’s decision to partake in drugs and alcohol shows that people in poverty have nothing to live for and just live for the next best thing.
Yunior’s encounter with drugs is first seen in “Aurora.” As a mean to help ease the financial burden on his mother, Yunior sells recreational drugs on the streets. It is a lucrative business that comes with repercussions. Yunior recollects that “Ten here, ten there, an ounce of weed for the big guy with the warts… Things around here aren’t like that yet, but more kids are dealing and bigger crews are coming in from out of town … We’re still making mad paper but it’s harder now and Cut’s already been ...
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...and stereotypes against him have played role in Yunior’s racial identity and how he views it. Yunior’s experiences have taught him that white and Latino are different and in essence being white is better. Yunior’s journey of maturation has taught him to accept his racial identity as being Latino and his position in life. Yunior has not reached the end of his maturation period, but given the environment and his situation it appears that he is in a stagnant stage of his life. Had he had a more positive upbringing he would be more optimistic about the future, he would be setting goals for himself instead of just being stuck. In his search for a permanent escape of his reality, he learns that being white is the only way to achieve real success and sadly, Yunior believes, that is not in his future.
Díaz, Junot. Drown. Boston: Riverhead Trade, 1997. Print