How does the main character in "How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie" by Junot Diaz contribute to irony and contradiction?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"How to Date a Brown Girl (black girl, white girl, or halfie)" by Junot Diaz is a story framed as a series of instructions to a boy preparing for a girl to come to his house.

The narrator instructs the boy to opt-out of a family trip to visit his...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

"How to Date a Brown Girl (black girl, white girl, or halfie)" by Junot Diaz is a story framed as a series of instructions to a boy preparing for a girl to come to his house.

The narrator instructs the boy to opt-out of a family trip to visit his Aunt. His mother won't believe his excuse but will decide that he can stay home. To get the house ready, he has to hide the government cheese. If the girl is from a more upper-class family, he needs to put it in the cabinet above the oven and remind himself to get it out before his mother gets home. If she's a local, he can just hide it in one of the fridge drawers. He has to hide embarrassing photos and the bucket of used toilet paper.

She's late and he doesn't know if she'll arrive. If it's a local girl, she might not come at all, the narrator says. The next day he'll see her at school and be charmed enough to ask her out again.

A local girl will come on her own or with friends. A girl from farther away will have a parent drive her. The narrator cautions him not to show surprise if his date's ethnicity is mixed and her mother is the white one. If her mother wants better directions, he should write new ones to make her happy.

A girl from around the way should be taken to El Cibao. A girl who isn't can be taken to Wendy's. Either way, he needs to avoid the local bully with his mean dogs on the walk to the restaurant. Back home, they can drink together.

The narrator says that a local girl will be cautious about what they do together because they have to live in the same neighborhood. A white girl will be more likely to go all the way. The narrator says that the halfie will push him away and talk about how she hates her breasts and doesn't like to have her hair touched. That she'll say only guys like them ask her out. She'll make him nervous because she's quieter here than at school.

Eventually, the girl will leave. The narrator counsels him to ignore the phone when it rings. He must also make sure to put the government cheese back in its place.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

“How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl,Whitegirl, and Halfie” by Junot Diaz comes across as a guide book for teenage boys for ethnicity dating. The narrator addresses the reader directly as though he is talking to “you.” In actuality, the guidebook is a façade used to illustrate that if a person wants a real connection between the sexes, it does not come from tricks and manipulation.

The narrator is an inner-city Hispanic teenager.  His tone is confident and self-assured. The language he uses is colloquial English with occasional Spanish thrown into the mix.  The purpose of the language is to show  the boy’s experience as a voice of authority on girls.  Like any male, he comes across as macho but underneath there are definite self-esteem problems.

 The story is a wrong footed dating manual written as though the author is a teenage Don Juan. To add authenticity to the story, the narrator has a side story including referring  to the “government cheese” indicating that his family is on welfare.  This is a young man whose life includes poverty, different ethnicities, and exposure to the seedy side of life.

Even though the narrator is still in high school, he presents himself as experienced with all kinds of girls.  He talks as though he is sexually knowledgeable. As he talks about his involvements, it becomes apparent that he probably has had few if any actual sexual encounters. It is ironic that he is probably anything but smooth even though he gives advice about making the “moves” to draw a girl into a sexual event.  

Tell her that you love her hair, that you love her skin, her lips…because in truth that you love them more than you love your own.  She’ll say, I like Spanish guys, and even though you’ve never been to Spain, say, I like you.  You’ll sound smooth.

Although he is just in high school, the narrator presents himself as an experienced man of the world: one who knows how to manipulate different kinds of young women as well as their parents.  Readers will find much of what he says to be humorous and his advice on how to be “smooth” ironic. The situational irony becomes funny when he describes the girl in bed taking out her gum and putting it on the plastic sheet for later use.  Inviting…   The real trick is to tell the girls that he loves their lips, skin, and hair more than he loves his own.  That will get the girl every time.        

The theme of the story comes from the narrator’s lack of understanding in the actual relationships between girls and boys.  To him, everything has a sexual overtone.  This may be true of many young men.  He does not understand that manipulation is not the way to create a relationship with anyone. Not based on biases and preconceived ideas. Many of his comments hinge on stereotypes or preconceived notions about a characteristic that some group possesses. 

The satirical treatment of the boy’s outlook on the feminine gender can be misconstrued as offensive.  The point of the story is not to debase girls but to humorously point out the lack of understanding by boys concerning girls and their personalities.

The narrator is perfect for his purpose.  He can portray the stereotypical talk and not be taken seriously.  An adult speaker would not be accepted in the same way.  His seeming confidence and arrogance almost persuades the reader that he knows how to handle “girls.” 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team