Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

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.