What are some literary terms and themes used in Junot Diaz's "Fiesta 1980"

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teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Some literary terms in Junot Diaz's Fiesta 1980:

1) Colloquial (everyday, street speech) and vernacular speech (language or dialect of a particular country).

There are quite a few examples of street speech in this short story:

...she was no longer the same flaca who had arrived here three years before...

She had cut her hair short and was wearing tons of cheap-ass jewelry which on her didn't look too lousy.

Coño, compa'i, ¿como va todo? they said to each other.

She gave everybody kisses, told me and Rafa how guapo we were...

2) Metonymy (replacing an actual word with a related word). Below, the Mexican grape Brandy is referred to as Presidente.

Wilquins's pop came into the living room a second later, a bottle of Presidente in hand.

3) Hyperbole (exaggeration for the purposes of emphasis or heightened effect).

Earlier that year I'd written an essay in school called "My Father the Torturer," but the teacher made me write a new one. She thought I was kidding.

4) Connotation (this is implied meaning as opposed to literal meaning.) Below, sucia directly translates to dirty or unwashed. It is also an implied reference to Papi's mistress.

What the hell was I going to say? Hey, Yunior, guess what happened yesterday? I met Papi's sucia!

5) Simile (an explicit comparison which equates two very different elements). 

The affair was like a hole in our living room floor, one we'd gotten so used to circumnavigating that we sometimes forgot it was there.

Two major literary themes in Fiesta 1980 :

1) This is a coming of age story, a sort of bildungsroman in all its glory. In the short story, Junot Diaz relates how Yunior navigates his difficult growing up years in his family. His parents are immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Yunior's characteristic car-sickness is a symptom of his inability to reconcile the pain caused by his father's affair with a Puerto Rican woman.

2) The immigrant experience is described with both honesty and humor. Yunior's childhood conflict with his brother, Rafa, is characteristic of two brothers jostling for room in the Latino family patriarchal hierarchy. Yunior's family is divided along traditional gender boundaries. Papi is unquestionably the head of the household; everybody differs to him and he is viewed as a figure to be appeased and to be catered to. Mami is the compassionate and long-suffering wife. She seems to not know what everybody else already knows: that her husband is having an affair behind her back.

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