A Literary Analysis On
“Fiesta, 1980” by Junot Diaz
Galen College of Nursing
Junot Diaz’s “Fiesta, 1980” presents a story of a teenage Latin boy named Yunior, who re-counts the stories of his dysfunctional family of immigrants from the Dominican Republic who are all attending a private party in the Bronx, New York City. Yunior is the middle teenage son of Papi and Mami, second to his brother Rafa and older than his sister Madai, who suffers from recurring motion sickness during road trips in his father’s brand new, lime green, Volkswagen van. At the very beginning, as Papi arrives home from “work” (later assumed to be his second girlfriend’s house, the Puerto Rican) to leave for their party, Yunior states “If Papi had walked in and caught us lounging around in our underwear, man, he would have kicked our asses or something serious.” (Diaz, 1996). The evidence to confirm some sort of anxiety disorder in Yunior in response to this type of negative treatment from his father is prevalent from the start, as we are exposed to Papi’s commanding personality. Parental psychological and physical abuse leads to a multitude of anxiety disorders in children and affects an estimated “8-10 of every 100 children and adolescents.” (Rizvi, Najma, 2014). In this short story, the author first presents us with a complex main character who, at a rather young age, is already displaying a wide variety of psychological disorders due to parental (primarily father) abuse. In a closer analysis of this main character, the most prevalent of disorders would include phobia (of his father as well as their family road trips in the van), generalized anxiety disorder related to fear, and the initial stages of an eating disorder after Papi attributes Yunior’s motion sickness to poorly timed meals.
Phobia can be generally defined as an unrealistic and overwhelming fear of a specific object, person or situation; in this case it is a combined fear of Papi and family road trips. To be exact, a fear of road trips to the Puerto Rican’s home in Papi’s new lime green van never fail to put Yunior over the edge. Yunior irrationally fears that he is always the only one in trouble with his dad and though he does admit that he occasionally likes the attention, he clearly does not enjoy the physical pain. Each of Papi’s three children display a fear of him in a considerably different manner, presumably due to their ranking birth order. Rafa the oldest, having most likely been the first to have endured such physical force from their father, does his best to avoid these violent situations as they arise: “Rafa had already started inching away from me… moving out of the way every time Papi was going to smack me.” (Diaz, 1996). While Yunior’s much younger sister Madai, who most likely will never suffer this type of physical abuse from their father but still hears the verbal cruelty, is also avoidant and usually “too scared to open her eyes.” (Diaz, 1996). It is evident that Yunior strives to gain recognition from his father and though he fears the physical force that will undoubtedly follow, Yunior takes each moment of acknowledgment that he can and runs with it, so to speak.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (typically just referred to as simply “GAD”) is a disruption in how someone’s brain “controls the signals used to identify danger and initiate action to help avoid it.” (Kutcher, 2015). However, in GAD, this signaling mechanism does not function as planned and a person will experience the danger signal when there is no existing danger. This overwhelming anxiety will cause serious emotional distress and will negatively impact school as well as relationships, usually presenting itself physically in the form of headaches or often uncontrollable nausea. Yunior’s internal anxiety is revealed once his father stops at the Puerto Rican’s and Yunior finally realizes what his father has been doing after work. In...
References: Diaz, Junot. “Fiesta, 1980.” Drown. New York: Riverhead Books, 1996. Urhalpool. 31 January, 2015. Web.
Kutcher, Dr. Stan. “Mental Disorders” Teen Mental Health. 30 January, 2015. Web.
Rizvi, Syeda Fariha Iram and Najma, Najma. “Parental Psychological Abuse Toward Children and Mental Health Problems in Adolescence.” Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences. Volume.30 (2014): 256-260. Web.
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