I need help getting started with a literary analysis of a short story, "How to Date A Brown Girl, Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie" by Junot Diaz from his novel Drown. How do setting and atmosphere impact a reader, and how do they impact the overall experience of the short story? 

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The question specifically asks about setting and atmosphere. Generally speaking, setting and atmosphere are major components of a story's mood. Mood is the general feeling that a piece of literature gives to readers. The setting of this story is Yunior's apartment and immediate neighborhood, and neither of these places is "high class." The narrator is from the poorer part of town, and he is self-conscious about what a potential date of his might think of him based on his apartment, neighborhood, and chosen date locations. As he talks about his womanizing tactics and setting manipulation, the reader cannot help but feel a bit embarrassed and nauseated. The reader is likely to feel embarrassed because we are seeing the world through Yunior's eyes. His embarrassment easily becomes our embarrassment, and it is a very relatable feeling. Most readers have likely felt embarrassed by something in their home or workplace at one point or another. As for nausea, that feeling should come when the narrator talks about how to manipulate his surroundings in order to "get the girl." He does not seem to care about who these ladies are. He cares about what he can get from them.

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In "How to date a brown girl (black girl, white girl, or halfie)" by Junot Diaz, the main character, Yunior, creates both mood and meaning for the story as he describes his apartment and the surrounding neighborhoods.

The reader feels the embarrassment Yunior feels as he prepares the apartment. Yunior defines the steps he takes to ready the apartment for his date. He cleans the bathroom, removes pictures from the wall, and hides the government issue cheese. The reader can see he does not want the girl, no matter what her race is, to see the signs of poverty or the attachment to the past. “Take down any embarrassing photos of your family in the campo, especially the one with the halfnaked kids dragging a goat on a rope leash.”

He has rules for preparing for the date depending on which neighborhood the girl is coming from, and which race she is. Yunior describes the appropriate restaurant to take the girls to for dinner. He describes how a girl’s home neighborhood or race will create expectations for a restaurant whether it is Wendy’s or the local diner, El Cibao. The description of the various settings brings the reader into the mind of Yunior.

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