Fiesta, 1980 Summary

Summary (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Told in the first person by an adolescent Latino boy, “Fiesta, 1980” chronicles a family of immigrants from the Dominican Republic driving to a party in the Bronx in New York City and the events of the party itself. Interspersed with the narration of these events are various family memories as recalled by the narrator, Yunior.

The family consists of Papi and Mami; their two sons, fifteen-year-old Rafa and twelve-year-old Yunior; and the youngest child, Madai, a preadolescent girl. The story begins in the family’s modest home in northern New Jersey as they dress for a fiesta to be held at Mami’s sister’s home in the Bronx. At the beginning, Yunior, the narrator, discloses that Papi is carrying on an affair with a Puerto Rican woman and that everyone in the family probably knows about it, though the subject is avoided.

Yunior has a reputation in the family for getting carsick, and Papi scolds Mami for allowing the boy to eat before the car ride to the Bronx. Papi fears food in Yunior’s stomach will make him sick. Yunior feels ostracized by his family for this affliction, and his father and brother needle him about it, making him feel worse. Mami sticks up for Yunior, saying it is not his fault that he gets sick. A believer in corporal punishment, Papi threatens Yunior with a beating if he should he get sick in the van.

During the drive to the party, Yunior begins feeling queasy, and Mami offers him hard candy to help him through the spell of nausea. Sucking the candy, Yunior reminisces to...

(The entire section is 629 words.)