How is love and hate at the heart of the father/son relationship in "Fiesta 1980"

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In Junot Diaz's short story "Fiesta 1980", the main character, twelve year-old Yunior, certainly shows a type of resentment against his boisterous father. In Yunior's case,this resentment may be so repressed that it takes the form of a supposed extreme case of motion sickness that leads to vomiting.

Yunior is the middle child of a Dominican family. His father displays every behavior consistent with machismo and chauvinism. He is also apparently very controlling and has not made Yunior's mom very happy. Yunior's dad has a mistress, whom Yunior has even met, and he knows that this will cause pain to his mom (if she doesn't already know). As a kid who obviously adores his mom and is closest to her, he endures his mom's own marital pains.

However, since he is a boy, his father would never allow him to intervene in emotional matters. For this reason, Yunior is obviously undergoing a trauma since his world is now divided between what his father and society expects of him and what he expects from himself to do for his mom.

This scenario is similar to Faulkner's "Barn Burning", for example. In this story the main character is also a middle child teenage boy whose world is divided between his Dad's expectations of him, and the boy's expectations of himself. When Sarti is just sick and tired of his Dad's evil barn burnings, he refuses to continue following him and goes against his father's wishes. This is taking a step into manhood and independence. Yunior, unfortunately, cannot go that far just yet. However, the angst and challenges of the transition from a young boy into a young man are the basic foundations of the stories.

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