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Last Updated on August 14, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 303

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"Fiesta, 1980" takes place over the course of one day in the life of the twelve-year-old Dominican-American narrator, Yunior. It is on the day when his family—including his older brother, younger sister, and parents (whom he calls Mami and Papi)—is attending his aunt's party in the Bronx.

It is clear from the beginning of the story that things aren't right in Yunior's house, and the story is about the way these events affect the narrator. Papi comes home to take a shower, and Yunior thinks his father is washing away the evidence of having been with his Puerto Rican mistress. Yunior's mother seems nervous, and then Papi becomes angry at Yunior for eating, as Yunior always throws up in his father's Volkwagen van.

As the family drives to the party and then celebrates at the party, Yunior becomes the target of his father's wrath for throwing up in the car; Papi then forbids Yunior from eating at the party. Yunior's mother, on the other hand, provides mints to her son and stands beside him as he brushes his teeth by the side of the road after throwing up.

Using the events from this day and the flashbacks Yunior has about meeting his father's mistress, the author draws a portrait of a family suffering from a great deal of tension. Yunior understands the distress his mother feels in her marriage, and he thinks about a lovely photo of her before she was married, when she seemed freer and happier. The reader may wonder if Yunior, who is the target of his father's wrath, is throwing up only from motion sickness or also due to the stresses caused by the tensions in his family. Yunior is aware of his father's transgressions and his mother's unhappiness, causing him to feel unsettled and perhaps even ill.

Style and Technique

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 218

The most noticeable stylistic features of the story are the narrator’s diction and the dialogue, which express the authentic and colorful language of an immigrant Dominican culture. The narration and dialogue contain numerous Spanish words and slang, without italics to set them off, forming a hybrid form of English and Spanish. This unique language suggests that the characters, perhaps especially Yunior, live not solely in a Dominican culture or an American one, but rather one that is a hybrid of the two. Yunior’s diction and syntax are sophisticated, containing only infrequent grammatical irregularity, an appropriate expression for a thoughtful, reflective, intelligent youngster.

The dialogue is concise and somewhat idiosyncratic, appropriate features for communication among family members of a distinct culture about practical daily matters. The dialogue of particular characters sharpens their portrayal: For example, Papi’s and Rafa’s dialogue is antagonistic and declarative, suggesting their physical control over other characters, especially Yunior. In contrast, the dialogue of Mami and Tia Yrma is supplicating and questioning.

The story contains little dramatic action, as it chronicles dressing for a fiesta, the drive to the fiesta, the fiesta itself, and the drive home. However, the movement of these scenes, ending with the family’s return to their house, where the story began, suggests a completeness to the story.