How do setting and atmosphere in How to Date a Brown Girl, Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie by Junot Diaz impact the reader? How does setting and atmosphere impact the overall experience of the story?

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In "How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie)," Junot Diaz , the setting—the Terrace—gives the reader a sense of familiarity or unfamiliarity, depending on their background, and impacts the story by giving the narrator a different experience with girls depending on their interpretation of the...

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In "How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie)," Junot Diaz, the setting—the Terrace—gives the reader a sense of familiarity or unfamiliarity, depending on their background, and impacts the story by giving the narrator a different experience with girls depending on their interpretation of the setting in which he lives.

At the beginning of the story, the narrator is thinking about his upcoming plans with a girl. Diaz writes:

Her parents won’t want her seeing a boy from the Terrace—people get stabbed in the Terrace—but she’s strong-headed and this time will get her way.

This shows a sense of disconnection between him and the people in his life. He's used to the possibility of violence—the stabbing—but the people he wants to be around aren't used to it. It makes them look down on him and shows the difficulty he has in dating people from another place.

If he's dating someone from another place, however, it's a different experience. He says:

If the girl’s local, don’t sweat. She’ll flow over when she’s good and ready. Sometimes she’ll run into her friends and a whole crowd will show up, and even though that means you ain’t getting shit it will be fun anyway and you’ll wish these people would come over more often. Sometimes the girl won’t flow over at all and the next day in school she’ll say, Sorry, and smile, and you’ll believe her and be stupid enough to ask her out again.

This girl fits in better and he's more comfortable with her. She comes with others—people who are part of his life and experience—but that doesn't mean the narrator is guaranteed to have a good time with her or with any girl. His experience is affected by the setting in which he lives.

The setting creates a sense of unreality for the reader who doesn't have to live in a violent area where they're judged for the people around them. On the other hand, if the reader has grown up in a similar environment, they might relate to the narrator's struggle. They might understand the prejudices that come with living in that type of environment.

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The narrator of the story sets the atmosphere right away. By using the words "tia" and "malcriado," he establishes that he is Latino, and he also refers to Union City and later to the state of New Jersey (thereby setting the story in New Jersey). He refers to pictures of himself and his family in the "campo," which is his way of referring to the country his family immigrated from. The reader understands that the narrator is Latino and at times has worn his hair in an Afro. The narrator goes on to describe his dates with women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and it's clear that the Latina girls are from his neighborhood, while the white girls are from farther away.

He also refers to "government cheese," which is his way of referring to the welfare his family receives. This detail lets the reader know that his apartment is likely humble and that the family is not wealthy. His relationships with white girls from other places occur along a divide of class and race. The atmosphere he sets with these details is one that is darkly funny, but it also establishes the embarrassment he feels about his own background.

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Yunior is a poor Dominican immigrant sharing dating strategies with the reader. He lives in an inexpensive apartment in a mostly hispanic part of the city.

The reader can tell that Yunior is in some way ashamed of his family's living area, because he mentions hiding the government cheese (a sign of poverty) and hiding the bucket full of used toilet paper under the sink. Clearly, he is afraid girls might judge him.

These stresses about the apartment combine with Yunior's hints of racial anxiety, such as his suggestion to run fingers through your hair as if you were white, or to accept a white girl's false implication that you are Spanish.

Both of these issues show how having a girl in his living area can cause a great deal of anxiety for Yunior about his own identity. Sadly, he appears to believe that his poverty or his color in some way make him less worthy. Or, alternatively, he believes that these girls would perceive these things as negative.

This fear of judgment forces the reader consider the source of Yunior's attitude. Is there a larger social mindset that has created his opinions of his own home and identity?

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