Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 520
Yunior, a 12-year-old boy whose parents are from the Dominican Republic, narrates this story, which takes place in northern New Jersey. Yunior and his family—his older brother Rafa, younger sister Madai, and his parents (whom he calls Mami and Papi)—are preparing to attend the party of Mami's sister, Tia Yrma,...
(The entire section contains 1149 words.)
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Yunior, a 12-year-old boy whose parents are from the Dominican Republic, narrates this story, which takes place in northern New Jersey. Yunior and his family—his older brother Rafa, younger sister Madai, and his parents (whom he calls Mami and Papi)—are preparing to attend the party of Mami's sister, Tia Yrma, who has recently arrived in the Bronx from the Dominican Republic.
On the day of the party, Papi comes home and takes a shower, and Yunior believes it is to wash off the evidence that Papi has been with his Puerto Rican mistress. Mami has been looking forward to the party, but now she seems nervous. Papi becomes angry when he hears that Mami allowed Yunior to eat, as Yunior throws up from motion sickness in Papi's van. Papi lifts Yunior up by his ear, and the other children scatter, as they are used to Papi's brutality.
On the way to the Bronx, Yunior vomits. Papi is angry, and Mami allows Yunior to brush his teeth. They arrive at Tia's house, where Tio Miguel offers the kids drinks of beer and rum, to which Mami objects. As the parents get a tour of the apartment, which Yunior describes as "Contemporary Dominican Tacky," the kids hang out with Leti, who is Yunior's age, her younger brother Wilquins, and their neighbor Mari. Yunior wants the girls to pay attention to him, but they pay attention to Rafa instead, and Yunior starts playing dominoes with Wilquins, who is mute. Yunior hears his father arguing in the kitchen, while his mother has a very quiet voice.
Yunior thinks back to the time when he met his father's Puerto Rican mistress. His father had taken him for a ride in the van to get him used to traveling without throwing up, but Yunior had vomited anyway. His father had taken him to his mistress's house to get cleaned up, and Yunior had watched TV while his father was upstairs with her.
When delicious Dominican food is served at the party, Papi tells Yunior not to eat. His aunt brings him outside, apparently to get some ice, but she slips him some pastelitos instead. She asks him how things are at home, but Yunior does not admit that his home life isn't good. Yunior thinks back to the time Rafa and he ate with the Puerto Rican woman and did not say anything to their mother. When they return to the party, the adults are dancing. Tia and Mami spend a lot of time talking. Papi and Mami are getting along, which is rare for them. Yunior recalls seeing a lovely photo of his mother before she was married, and she is smiling quietly in the picture. Yunior thinks back to the time when Mami asked him if something was wrong (Yunior was upset after he had met the Puerto Rican woman), and he lied and said he had gotten in trouble in school. When they leave the party, everyone is strangely calm, and Yunior sees his father put a hand on his mother's knee, and later Yunior vomits again on the way home.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 629
Told in the first person by an adolescent Latino boy, “Fiesta, 1980” chronicles a family of immigrants from the Dominican Republic driving to a party in the Bronx in New York City and the events of the party itself. Interspersed with the narration of these events are various family memories as recalled by the narrator, Yunior.
The family consists of Papi and Mami; their two sons, fifteen-year-old Rafa and twelve-year-old Yunior; and the youngest child, Madai, a preadolescent girl. The story begins in the family’s modest home in northern New Jersey as they dress for a fiesta to be held at Mami’s sister’s home in the Bronx. At the beginning, Yunior, the narrator, discloses that Papi is carrying on an affair with a Puerto Rican woman and that everyone in the family probably knows about it, though the subject is avoided.
Yunior has a reputation in the family for getting carsick, and Papi scolds Mami for allowing the boy to eat before the car ride to the Bronx. Papi fears food in Yunior’s stomach will make him sick. Yunior feels ostracized by his family for this affliction, and his father and brother needle him about it, making him feel worse. Mami sticks up for Yunior, saying it is not his fault that he gets sick. A believer in corporal punishment, Papi threatens Yunior with a beating if he should he get sick in the van.
During the drive to the party, Yunior begins feeling queasy, and Mami offers him hard candy to help him through the spell of nausea. Sucking the candy, Yunior reminisces to himself about the many times he became sick in the Volkswagen van. Sure enough, before the family gets to the Bronx, Yunior vomits in the van, confirming his brother’s and father’s impression that he is a weakling.
At the party, the hosts and other guests, all of whom seem to be Latinos and many of whom are related, greet Yunior and his family. The food, music, and dancing have a particular Latin flavor. The adults talk loudly in the kitchen while the children watch television in the living room. Rafa joins two adolescent girls on the couch and immediately begins flirting; Yunior is too shy to interact with the girls, but another, younger boy, Wilquins, who is mute, attracts his interest. Papi’s domineering voice in the kitchen overpowers the other adults’ voices.
Watching television, Yunior reminisces to himself about a time when his father brought him to the house of his mistress, who let him watch television downstairs while she and Yunior’s father disappeared upstairs for an hour. Knowledge of his father’s secret relationship with the woman troubles Yunior.
When the food is served, Papi forbids Yunior to eat, afraid he will become carsick on the ride home. Yunior’s aunt, Tia Yrma, requests his company on a walk to get some ice, and she smuggles him some pastelitos to eat outside the apartment. Away from the party, Yrma questions Yunior about his mother’s marriage and her state of mind.
Yrma and Yunior return to the party. Soon the adults begin dancing. Yunior watches his mother and Yrma standing together having an intimate conversation. He tries to imagine his mother before she was married, recalling a photo of her as a young woman that he once had seen. He imagines she was happier then and drifts off to sleep.
Later, Yunior is awakened; it is time to go home. On the long ride, his two siblings fall asleep, but Yunior feels carsick. The nausea increases as he watches his parents riding quietly, seemingly content, in the front seat. Finally, he calls to his mother, and his parents realize he is going to be sick again.