The narrator is unnamed for most of the story, but at the end of the tale it is revealed that the narrator is Yunior. Yunior is nine years old and Rafa is twelve. The two boys are staying with their uncle because there mother works continuously in a chocolate factory and their father is in the United States. Rafa and Yunior board a bus and while traveling an older man sits next to Yunior. The man reaches out and begins to grope Yunior. Yunior quickly pushes the man away, and the narrator and his brother soon exit the bus.
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When his mother is asleep, Yunior puts on his jacket and goes to see if Beto is home. Yunior notes that Beto is a pato faggot now, but that they used to be close enough that both he and his mother considered Beto to be a member of their family. Notably, these are traits Yunior sees more in his past self than his present self.
As a result, Beto never understood why Yunior did not have the same drive to leave their hometown. Yunior told Beto that, unlike him, he still has a year of high school left and no opportunities anywhere else.
The two boys had different relationships to their neighborhood. Beto sees it as a place to escape from, while Yunior indelibly belongs to it, bound by his relationship with his mother and to his final year of school. In addition, Yunior does not see himself as having the ambition that Beto has to leave.
During the days, the pair would go to the mall or play stickball in a local parking lot, but at night they would eagerly hop the plastic fence at the local pool to swim with the rest of the neighborhood children. Confronted with the possibility of seeing Beto again, Yunior remembers the pool: a positive space to be surrounded by his community and peers. In addition, because the pool is surrounded by a fence, swimming is a reward for physical strength and breaking the rules, as it is clearly not something the children are allowed to do.
Download it! He explains that he has not even decided if he wants to speak to Beto at all since the two have not seen each other for two years. Much like Beto himself, the apartment is alien and unwelcoming.
Active Themes In spite of himself, Yunior makes his way towards the familiar racket at the local pool, assuming that Beto will be there. As he has gotten older, it has become much harder for him to hop the fence, and a neighborhood teenager mocks him as he falls over the top. Yunior returns to the pool, trying to find memories of Beto and childhood again but he finds that everything has changed. Despite the fact that his classmates have moved on, he is still trying to fit in in childhood spaces to which he no longer belongs.
Active Themes Only mildly daunted by his relative age, Yunior dives into the water. Still a talented swimmer, he glides underwater for a long time without making a splash. He notes that, when they were younger, there was always a risk of coming up for air and finding the cops yelling at them to get out of the pool and go home. Exaggerating strength is also the way Yunior attempts to prove that he is still young and still belongs at the pool.
However, while he used to swim to be surrounded by his community, swimming is now his way to escape from the parts of his life that give him stress. Active Themes Related Quotes with Explanations When Yunior comes up for air, he is comforted by the familiar signs of teenage mischief around him. Beto pushes Yunior to grow as long as it conforms to his terms, becoming threatened if Yunior excels in a way he cannot. Yunior both resents and admires this behavior, since Beto is his model of both masculinity and physical strength.
Active Themes Yunior explains that he still lives alone with his mother, and though she still pays the rent and utilities, he makes enough to cover the phone bill. Though she still protects and nurtures him by paying his rent and cooking for him, they also interact like strangers, spending most of their time in silence, unaware how the other spends their days. Active Themes Related Quotes with Explanations Returning from the pool, Yunior finds that his mother is still awake and he watches television with her.
They settle on the Spanish language news because it provides violence for Yunior to watch and drama for his mother.
They watch the story of a baby that survived a seven-story fall out of a window. Their choice in programming also shows that Yunior is familiar with what his mother needs and he compromises to please her. Yunior ignores her and continues to watch the television. He clearly still cares deeply about what Beto thinks of him.
He does not bring his feelings up, however, retreating back into his silence instead. Therefore, Yunior helps his mother with something important to her but which Yunior also knows is unnecessary.
This makes clear that, in the absence of his father, Yunior is the man of the house. Active Themes Yunior notes that it is a special occasion when his mother decides to go out, and she always gets dressed up and puts on makeup. As a result, Yunior cannot resent taking her to the mall even though he often sells the bulk of his drugs on Saturdays, so the mall trips interrupt his work.
His comment also shows that he is aware that they do not lead a particularly adventurous or outgoing life if the main reason she has to get dressed up is to hunt for bargains. Active Themes Yunior recognizes most of the kids on the bus to be teenagers that he sells to. He prays he will not be recognized, but his mother seems not to notice. Active Themes At the mall, Yunior gives his mother fifty-dollars to spend. She would take over a week to spend it all, hunting carefully through the various bargain bins.
Yunior hates to think of his mother bargain hunting. Yet, he is embarrassed with her bargain hunting which he sees as an emblem of their poverty though he does nothing himself to ease their financial strain.
Active Themes While his mother shops, Yunior tracks the same route through the mall that he and Beto used to at the height of their shoplifting.
To distract himself from his current errand, Yunior remembers happier times with Beto. Yet, as in all things, Beto is still the superior shoplifter, and Yunior is happy to learn from his skills. For Beto, this is not much of a punishment because his father has arthritis. Active Themes Related Quotes with Explanations Yunior recalls that his mother never suspected that he was shoplifting, even though he brought home large quantities of new clothes.
Like his drug dealing, shoplifting is an illegal activity that she would rather not confront. Active Themes Related Quotes with Explanations Indeed, one day when shoplifting from the book store, Yunior and Beto get stopped by the store security guard asking to check their bag.
Yunior tries to walk past her, but Beto stops and hits her in the face with his bag. The two boys try to run from the cops, but are found by store security hiding under a car across from the bus stop, having been too scared to take the bus.
Yunior notes that they held hands when they were found. On the way home from the bar, Yunior notices the Raritan River in the distance, noting that it is the same river that Beto goes to school on. Nor do these new friends help Yunior to forget Beto; the observation about the Raritan shows that Beto is still top of mind no matter how much Yunior does to forget him. Active Themes In the mornings, Yunior explains that he always goes for a run behind his apartment.
When he runs, Yunior looks for an army recruiter who has stopped him before and asked him to enlist. However, though his desire to leave increases as he ages and his strength leaves him he still has absolutely no ambition to plot his own escape, hoping instead that the recruiter will passively rescue him. Active Themes When Yunior returns from his run, he finds his mother whispering on the phone.
Yunior explains that he often calls his mother to beg for money, lying that he will leave his current girlfriend if she moves to Florida herself. Critically, however, he hates his father for his violence and bad treatment of women, the same behavior Yunior exhibits with Alex and Danny. Active Themes Related Quotes with Explanations Yunior remembers that he often skipped classes when he and Beto were in high school.
Sometimes, however, Beto was not around because he was visiting other neighborhoods or spending the evening in Manhattan instead. After the clubs close, they speed through the empty streets, keeping the windows open so that Alex will not fall asleep and wreck his third car.
This anecdote is another example of the ways Alex and Danny further trap Yunior. Firstly, by drinking in college bars, he is taking refuge in an idea of his own youth and virility that is unrealistic.
In addition, he is forced to be negatively masculine to compensate for his discomfort. Active Themes.
The following version of this story was used to create this study guide: Diaz, Juno. New York: Riverhead Books, In the action of the story, Yunior is nine years old, and his older brother Rafa is 12 years old. It is the summer, and Yunior and Rafa are living with their uncle in the countryside near the town of Ocoa. They usually live with their mother in the city of Santo Domingo, but in the summer, she works in a chocolate factory and sends her sons to live with her brother.
Ysrael Summary & Study Guide
When his mother is asleep, Yunior puts on his jacket and goes to see if Beto is home. Yunior notes that Beto is a pato faggot now, but that they used to be close enough that both he and his mother considered Beto to be a member of their family. Notably, these are traits Yunior sees more in his past self than his present self. As a result, Beto never understood why Yunior did not have the same drive to leave their hometown. Yunior told Beto that, unlike him, he still has a year of high school left and no opportunities anywhere else. The two boys had different relationships to their neighborhood.
Drown - Chapter 1 “Ysrael” Summary & Analysis