The story “Fiesta, 1980” by Junot Diaz is a coming-of-age story that follows the narrator, Yunior, as he grows up in a Dominican household in New Jersey. Throughout the story, Yunior deals with many different problems, including his fear of his abusive father and his struggle to find his place within his large family. However, the most important conflict in the story is between Yunior and his mother.
Yunior’s relationship with his mother is a complex one. On the one hand, he loves her deeply and admires her strength in dealing with his difficult father. On the other hand, he also resents her for not protecting him from his father’s abuse and for seemingly favoring his sister over him. This conflict comes to a head in the final scene of the story, when Yunior confronts his mother about why she didn’t do more to protect him from his father.
The confrontation is a painful one, but it also allows Yunior to finally begin to understand his mother and their relationship. In the end, he comes to see her not as someone who failed him, but as someone who did the best she could under difficult circumstances. This understanding is a crucial step in Yunior’s journey toward adulthood.
The story takes place in 1980 and revolves around Yunior, the protagonist, who narrates his everyday life with his father, Papi. After hearing that Yunior’s mother has died, Jai tells him that he must prepare to give up on a relationship before it is too late (which means “party” in Spanish). This event established the undercurrent of Papi’s overbearing dominance.
Yunior’s father is a “very big man” with an intimidating aura who loves to drink and gamble. He often brings home other women, which deeply troubles Yunior’s mother Mami. Despite her husband’s infidelity, Mami remains devoted to Papi.
The night of the fiesta, Yunior and his friends are playing dominos in the front yard when they see two men walking down the street. One of the men is carrying a gun. The boys are frightened and run into the house to tell their parents. Yunior’s mother screams when she sees the gun and orders everyone to hide in the basement. Papi tries to comfort Mami, but she is too afraid.
The men knock on the door and Papi answers. They ask for Yunior’s father, but Papi says he is not home. The men say they will come back later and leave.
Papi tries to reassure his wife that everything will be alright, but she is still very scared. She tells him she wants to leave the Bronx and move to Florida. Papi agrees to move if that is what she wants.
The family packs up their belongings and Papi drives them to Florida. On the way, Yunior’s mother asks Papi to promise that he will never cheat on her again. He agrees and they share a kiss.
Yunior’s mother continues to worry about her husband’s infidelity, but she is also happy to be in Florida. She knows that he will never change and that she must accept him for who he is.
The story ends with Yunior reflecting on his family and the events of the fiesta. He remembers how his mother was always there for him, even when Papi was not. He also recalls the moment when his mother told him she loved him, despite all of his father’s flaws.
Yunior’s mother is a strong woman who has made the best of her situation. She has remained devoted to her husband, even though he has been unfaithful. She has also been a source of strength for her son.
The fiesta was a turning point for Yunior’s family. It was the beginning of their journey to Florida and it also brought them closer together. Yunior will never forget the night his family was forced to hide in the basement, but he will also never forget his mother’s love and strength.
In this tale, Papi demonstrates several variants of his controlling personality by demanding respect, instilling unhealthy fear in his family, and making his sons feel complicit by telling them about his adulterous relationship. From the start, Papi’s attitude shows off his commanding presence through his call for a party and the agreement of his children.
He uses his family as a means to show off his wealth and success to friends, which further cements his role as the patriarch of the household. Papi’s unhealthy control over his family is evident when he threatens to beat up Yunior’s friends if they do not treat him with respect. This creates an atmosphere of fear in the house, which makes it difficult for Yunior to have a normal childhood.
Additionally, Papi’s exposure of his affair to his sons makes them complicit in his infidelity and leads them to view women as sexual objects. This ultimately destroys Yunior’s relationship with his first girlfriend, Magdalena. In conclusion, Papi’s controlling personality causes many problems for his family, which ultimately leads to their downfall.
When Don tells her she needs to stop, she says that she is “busy” and then talks about how busy he is. Her inability to be alone with her thoughts is evident in the way she repeatedly adjusts her belt buckle. Yunior also explains his mother’s understanding and non-confrontational response to Papi when he asks if the children have eaten. She nods (yes), comments, “May God have mercy on me” (271), and accepts responsibility by claiming it’s not his fault (“It isn’t his fault,” 272).
This shows that even though Papi is the head of the household, it is Mami who is really in charge. She is the one who has to deal with the consequences of his actions, which often put the family in danger.
The way Diaz uses dialogue and description in this story allows readers to get a clear understanding of what Yunior’s mother is feeling. Her anxiety is palpable, and her fear is very real. The way she tries to protect her children from Papi’s violence is admirable, and her strength in spite of everything she’s been through is inspiring.
After her answer, the family suffers from a level of fear that is uncontrollable. Ravi (Yunior’s brother) withdraws himself from Yunior, afraid he will get hit as well. Madai (Yunior’s sister) was too terrified to look up, and when Yunior explains Papi’s rants she becomes a wimp. In order to avoid being smacked, Yunior avoided looking at his mother while answering her question.
When Papi asks Yunior where his mother is, and Yunior responds with “ I don’t know.” (Diaz 80), he really means that he does not know where she is at the precise moment, but he knows deep down inside that she is probably in one of her boyfriends house.
Papi starts to look for Mami all over the house, in every room, under every bed, and in every closet. As he looks for her, he breaks things that are in his way, and makes even more of a mess than there already was. When Papi finally finds Mami, she is in tRafa’s bedroom closet, hidden behind some clothes. It is at this point when Yunior’s fear starts to slowly turn into anger. He gets mad at Mami for making them all go through this, and for putting Papi in such a bad mood.
Mami tries to make up an excuse, saying that she was just looking for something, but Papi does not believe her. He knows that she was cheating on him, and he is not happy about it. Papi then proceeds to hit Mami, and after he hits her the first time, Yunior’s anger starts to turn back into fear. He is afraid that Papi is going to hurt Mami really badly, or even kill her.