How Are the Themes Coming of Age and Immigrant Experience Presented in “Fiesta, 1980” and “Rules of the Game”?

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Chen Ruan
Prof. Wright
ENG 201 141
March 4, 2009

How Are the Themes Coming of Age and Immigrant Experience Presented in “Fiesta, 1980” and “Rules of the Game”?

Chen Ruan
Prof. Wright
ENG 201 141
March 4, 2009

In ''Fiesta, 1980" by Junot Diaz, the story begins with a Dominican immigrant

family celebrating at a party and waiting for the father of the narrator. He seldom

undertakes his parental responsibilities and the responsibility of marriage. In contrast,

this father's adultery affects the mother of the narrator throughout the entire story.

This story is told from the perspective of an adolescent boy, Yunior. As the story

progresses, he and his brother have witnessed the sexual irresponsibility of their own

father in a Puerto Rican woman's house. Unfortunately, Yunior considers himself sick,

and attributes the cause of his physical illness to a family trip he remembers sitting in his

father’s VW.

The major theme of this short story is coming of age. This short story is about a Dominican adolescent Yunior, who is struggling to survive in the environment of an impoverished, fatherless immigrant family. “I was the one who was always in trouble with my dad. It was like my God-given duty to piss him off, to do everything the way he hated. Our fights didn’t bother me too much. I still wanted him to love me, something that never seemed strange or contradictory until years later, when he was out of our lives” (Diaz 22). This is a coming of age story, but for Junior that has very little to do with and very much to do with witnessing the sexual irresponsibility of his own father.

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“What’s wrong with your dad? Leti asked. He’s a dick, I said. Rafa shook his head. Don’t say that shit in front of people. Easy for you to be nice when you’re eating, I said” (Diaz 33). The conversation between Yunior and his aunt is a feeling of his personality that surprises himself. He curses as a form of rebellion against his father, or really against his brother who says he better not curse.

David Gates is a senior editor at Newsweek. His most recent book is "The Wonders of the Invisible World," a collection of stories. Gates says, “And the voice Mr. Diaz has devised for Yunior, an unstable compound of demotic Spanish, white teen- speak and black street talk, is exactly right for a kid uncomfortably feeling his way among his several worlds” (Gates http://query.nytimes.com). Language is an incredible power. Daiz employs distinct terms of language to develop successfully the conversational style of Yunior necessary to shape his perception of reality during his coming of age in American society.

Another major theme is the immigrant experience. Yunior and Rafe assimilate as immigrants in America, especially as the next generation, changing their habitual behaviors and personal preferences. The characters of them have half - assimilated to the American culture. The assimilation of the family allowed them to adapt to the leading culture and lifestyle in America. However, their parents still maintain their own culture by speaking both English and Spanish. “In her mind, American things --- appliances, mouthwash, funny – looking upholstery --- all seemed to have an intrinsic badness about them” (Diaz 22). This is the biggest pressure that their mother is faced with --- unfamiliarity. It’s simply because their mother has never encountered such unfamiliarity, as a new culture and custom, before she immigrates to America. As a new immigrant, their mother who isn’t used to the American society and way of life must makes judgments within the unfamiliarity she sees in America. “If you eat anything, I’m

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going to beat you. ¿Entiendes? I nodded. And if your brother gives you any food, I’ll beat him too. Right here in front of everybody. ¿Entiendes? I nodded again. I wanted to kill him and he must have sensed it because he gave...
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