Does Diaz want the reader to be critical of Latino culture, or does he simply want them to be aware of what is there?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Fiesta, 1980," Diaz presents a harsh but loving view of Latino culture. He includes his father's infidelity and cruelty and the way his mother feels crushed by her marriage. However, the picture he creates is not without love and connection. 

For example, as Yunior sees his mother dancing periodically with his father at a party, Yunior tries to imagine the woman she was before she was married. He thinks:

Suddenly I wanted to go over and hug her, for no other reason than I loved her, but there were about eleven fat jiggling bodies between us. So I sat down on the tiled floor and waited.

Yunior's mother tries to provide love and affection for her children in the midst of the father's anger and abuse. She, for example, gives Yunior a mint in the car to help him stop vomiting, but riding in his father's car always makes him sick. Yunior's constant vomiting is symbolic of the way in which he is in some ways sickened by his father's infidelity and cruelty and the insanity of his family's dynamics. However, the mother tries to offer what help she can, including the mint and rubbing Yunior's neck, to make him feel better.

At the end of the story, Yunior realizes that his parents have a connection between them. He observes:

In the darkness, I saw that Papi had a hand on Mami's knee and that the two of them were quiet and still. They weren't slumped back or anything; they were both wide awake, bolted into their seats.

While the parents' relationship is fraught with anger, they are still connected. Therefore, the picture Diaz draws of his family and of Latino culture is one of dysfunction but also connection. He does not seem to want the reader to be critical of his culture but to understand its ambiguities. 

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The short story "Fiesta, 1980" by Junot Diaz definitely shows from a very personal and subjective perspective,the attitudes, customs, traditions, and mannerisms of the Hispanic American society from the Dominican Republic set in urban New Jersey and the Bronx.

It is debatable to say that Diaz put this information forward in order to instill criticism. Diaz is knowledgeable enough about the culture to provide details for the sake of getting the reader to appreciate the similarities and differences of Hispanics and non-Hispanics.

Also, the audience for which this story is intended is the immigrant and non-immigrant population alike: Diaz educates as well as entertains. The story clearly wants to show how are the lives of everyday expats who conduct their everyday business, but only in a different setting.

In all, if Diaz had wanted criticism the plot would have touched more on the subject of infidelity, on abuse, and on other topics. Instead, the story always continued to focus on Yunior and his coming of age in the world.

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Fiesta, 1980

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