Can someone please help me come with 5 observations relating to how Diaz uses language to create characters in "Fiesta, 1980"?

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caledon | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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  • Slang - Yunior uses words like "dope" (as in "awesome"). This clues us in that he's probably a teenager, since adults and young children tend not to casually use slang, and it also depicts what a typical teenager in 1980 might have spoken like, which is valuable since understanding the current slang is often important to teenagers, and those words tend to change over time.
  • Bilingualism - Papi and Mami tend to switch between English and Spanish, while Yunior and Rafa speak almost exclusively in English but understand both languages. This tells us about how the family is beginning to culturally separate, since the boys have been spending many of their formative years in the United States.
  • Religion and Ritual - This is another element regarding heritage, and seems more a part of the family's identity than the Spanish language. It includes elements like the prayer said before leaving the house, and the ethnic foods served at the party. It is also notable that despite being Christian, Mami makes devotions to pagan gods.
  • Selective Information - Yunior is what's known as a subjective narrator - we only know what he knows, or at least what he wishes to tell us. For example, Papi seems to have very few redeeming values. Yunior basically describes him as a loudmouth, bully and embarrassment. We also learn that this story is a flashback, and that Papi eventually leaves the family.
  • Imagery - In what might be considered a role reversal, the adults at the party are depicted as boisterous, dancing and shouting loud enough to be heard on the street, whereas the children are quiet, playing dominoes and watching television (and scolded for attempting to raise the volume). It seems as though the party is for the adults, and the children are merely brought along, and practically forgotten; they are merely witnesses. This parallels their feelings about Papi's mistress; when hiding his affair might seem like the wisest course of action, Papi instead brings the children to her house as though their presence is irrelevant.
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