What happens in Drown?

Drown is a collection of ten short stories by Junot Díaz. Set alternately in the Dominican Republic and the Dominican neighborhoods of New Jersey, the collection explores themes of immigration and race. Many of the stories are narrated by Junior, Junot Díaz's alter ego.

  • In "Ysrael," Yunior and his brother Rafa are living in the Dominican Republic. Their father has abandoned them, and their mother has sent them to live with a relative while she works long hours at a chocolate factory. Then one day Yunior's father returns and moves the family to the United States.
  • In "Drown," a childhood friend of Yunior's visits from college. What should be a happy reunion soon becomes tense, and Yunior feels alienated from his friend. He remembers the summer they spent together and the sexual experiences they shared.
  • In "How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie," the second-person narrator gives the reader instructions on how to date the different kinds of women in the title.

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Summary

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Drown is an intensely raw and realistic collection of ten short stories. Although the stories share neither one common protagonist nor one common setting, each story involves a Dominican or Dominican American adolescent male's struggle to survive in the harsh and often violent world of poverty, drugs, and petty crime. Diaz's young protagonists, who live in rural areas of the Dominican Republic or in Dominican neighborhoods of suburban New Jersey, struggle to survive in the face of absent fathers, abject poverty, and tedious jobs.