Last Updated on August 14, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 449
Yunior, the narrator of the story, is a young Dominican boy growing up in America. He is a middle child and is often the brunt of his brother’s jokes and teasing. Unfortunately, he suffers from car sickness which often makes him the object of his father’s anger. His relationship with his father is strained and dysfunctional. Yunior even tried to turn in an essay for school titled, “My Father, The Torturer,” but his teacher makes him choose another topic. His father once took him to his mistress’s home, placing Yunior in an awkward position. He struggles with the guilt of knowing a secret that could devastate his mother, a woman with whom he has a loving, caring relationship.
Papi, Yunior’s father, is the authoritative figure in the family, sometimes to the extreme of physical and emotional abuse. All of the children are frightened of Papi and try to stay out of his way, although he does seem to have a soft spot for Madai, the youngest daughter. Papi is a strong disciplinarian, and even Mami tries to appease him so he doesn’t get angry. He is cheating on Mami, creating tension in the family because both Yunior and Rafa know about their father’s mistress.
Mami, Yunior’s mother, loves her children and has a caring relationship with them. She tries to keep Papi happy so that his anger doesn’t upset the family. Since being in America, she has changed her appearance and has taken on many American ways.
Rafa, Yunior’s older brother, is a coconspirator in the secret about Papi’s mistress. He and Yunior have a typical brother relationship, always giving each other a hard time.
Madai, Yunior’s younger sister, plays a minor role in the story. She, too, is afraid of Papi. However, he does try to delight her by picking up coins around the toll booth.
Tia Yrma and Tio Miguel
Tia Yrma and Tio Miguel are Mami’s relatives. They worry about Papi’s anger. Yunior’s Tia even sneaks him some food at the party, although Papi has strictly forbidden Yunior from eating because of his motion sickness.
Leti and Wilquins
Leti and Wilquins are other children at the party. Leti has a romantic interest in Rafa. Wilquins, who is mute, bonds with Yunior while they play video games.
Papi’s sucia (mistress) plays an important role in the story development....
(The entire section contains 627 words.)
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