The Concept of Conflicting Realities
Right from the very first line of Junot Díaz’s short story “The Sun, the Moon, the Stars,” readers are warned that this is a tale of conflict. And from that point onward, whether it is a disagreement between the two main characters, the inconsistency of dire poverty superimposed onto commercial tourism, or one man’s personal struggle of contradictory desires, Díaz floods his story with the sounds and sights of seemingly unavoidable collisions. These impacts occur when one reality clashes with another; when two separate visions, whether personal or environmental, conflict. This is a story in which people have trouble hearing what another person is saying, in which people do not understand what another person is feeling, and, worse yet, in which some of the characters appear to be living within a divided personal world in which they do not seem able to truly comprehend even themselves. Díaz’s characters are just plain out of sync, and the consequences are that experiences becomes distorted. Even the title, which purposely suggests a fairy-tale romance, conflicts with the body of this story, which hopes to be a romance but ends up being quite the opposite.
Díaz wastes no time setting up the conflicts that permeate this short story. In the first paragraph of “The Sun, the Moon, the Stars,” the narrator points out that Magdalena, his girlfriend, does not agree with him. And if the truth be known, even the narrator has trouble agreeing with himself. Although he will not admit that he is bad, he is hard pressed to convince the reader (or himself) that he is good. The narrator immediately qualifies his goodness: he is only basically good, he states. And it is upon this basic goodness that he sets the foundation of his argument—he does not deserve to lose his girlfriend, no matter what her friends advise and no matter what the narrator has done to destroy his relationship with her. The narrator admits that he has cheated on Magdalena, but he justifies his deception. It was just a fling, something he could not control. The woman, Cassandra, was all over him. How could he resist? And why, oh why is Magdalena making such a fuss over the affair? It is done with, having happened a long time ago, buried like an old bone in the backyard. It was performed at a time when his and Magdalena’s relationship was not going as smoothly as it was right before Cassandra’s letter arrived, unveiling the truth of the short-lived affair. So,...
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Methods of Characterization
In “The Sun, the Moon, the Stars,” Junot Díaz creates a narrator who is at once charming, naïve, and disingenuous. Nevertheless, Yunior is an engaging character, one who practically leaps off the page in an effort to convince readers—and himself— that, despite appearances to the contrary, he really is not such a “bad guy.” Because Yunior seems genuinely perplexed by past events, the reader is at first sympathetic and eager to learn more about his romantic troubles. As the reader soon discovers, however, Yunior is his own worst enemy, and his word remains suspect. Thus, through Yunior’s use of language and the disparity between his thought and action, Díaz brings Yunior’s character to light in a display of first-person narration fraught with unintended revelations.
One way in which Díaz portrays Yunior’s character is through his use of language. A resident of Quisqueya Heights, a Dominican enclave in New York City, Yunior blends the rhythms of the street with a university education as he narrates his tale in both English and Spanish. For example, Yunior often refers to his “boys,” his male friends, as though they comprised a gang. They affectionately address one another with epithets like “nigger,” a term Yunior uses on occasion when referring to himself in the third person. He makes a show of using slang and strong language, as though trying to maintain a façade of impregnability against impending disaster. Using slang and...
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In “The Sun, the Moon, the Stars,” a short story by Junot Diaz, the title alludes to subtle contradictions that appear in the story, as well as to the pairings of opposites that show up in certain facets of the narrative. Upon first glance at the title, the reader is apt to think that the story has a romantic or idyllic quality to it; for what is more charming than an image of the guiding lights of nature, the sun, moon, and stars? However, in the middle of the story, the narrator describes a failing relationship by declaring that the “relationship wasn’t the sun, the moon, and the stars” after all. Furthermore, within the title is a pair of opposites, the sun and the moon, or, figuratively, the day and the night, the light and the shadow. This pairing of opposites of perception can further be observed in the way the narrator presents himself, his girlfriend, the relationship between them, and the country that gives the narrator his identity, Santo Domingo, known as the Dominican Republic. By presenting the story with elements of the light and dark, or the positive and negative sides of things, the narrator ultimately provides the reader with a more comprehensive view of a fictional world, despite the fact that the narrator at times seemingly contradicts himself.
The first glaring contradiction occurs with the opening line of the story, when the narrator suspiciously declares that he is not a “bad guy,” but “basically good.” However, he...
(The entire section is 1581 words.)