Supplementary Discussion of Junot Diaz's "Fiesta, 1980"

  You are not assigned a specific question to answer in supplementary discussion, but feel free to use any of the question below or create your own. 

You are required to post to 5 supplementary discussions over the course of the semester. You can do more for extra credit, so long as you do it in the scheduled timeframe.

13 Questions To Ask of Every Story: 

1.          What makes this story “literary”? 


2.          Why is this story considered one of the best stories of the past hundred years? If it’s an old story, why has it endured?


3.          Why do you think this story was considered one of the best / most iconic stories at the time of its publication? What made it a “successful” story?


4.          Plot: What is the “rich ground situation” (conflict) of the story? What happens to complicate this ground situation?


5.          Plot: What is the climax of this story? How does the moment irrevocably change everything?


6.          Character: In what ways does the writer show character?


7.          Character: In what ways does the character drive the action of the story?


8.          Point of view: Why do you think the writer chose this particular point of view for the story? How does the point of view function to establish distance or make us feel a certain way?


9.          Setting: How does the setting work within the story? What are the key places, and in how does the writer describe them?


10.      Pick three of the best lines in the story. Why are they good lines?


11.      Do a little bit of research on this author. Is this story a good example of his/her work? Is there anything else you learned that could add to our understanding of the story?


12.      What do you think the reader is supposed to take from the story? What can we, as writers, learn from studying it?

13. How is this story similar to others we've read? How is it different?


  1. 2. Why is this story considered one of the best stories of the past hundred years? If it’s an old story, why has it endured?

    A: This could totally be me projecting onto the story, so take this with a grain of salt. But because I was curious, I looked up what type of shows were being aired on TV at the time this story was published, and my suspicions were confirmed. While I was reading the story, I got a very distinct 'Malcolm In The Middle' vibe. This story predates 'Malcolm In The Middle' by a few years, but shows like 'Full House' and 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' had been marinating in the public psyche for years by the time this story was published. I think the ways in which this story subverts the tropes of the typical, aw-shucks, happy-go-lucky family tale really resonated with readers at the time. I think it endures because the story of a dysfunctional family will probably never fade from relevancy. There will always be a vein to tap into with family dynamics, no matter what time period you're in.


  2. 13. How is this story similar to others we've read? How is it different?

    This story reminded me so much of the other short story we read this week. They both involve females from Latin backgrounds moving to America where they are trying to make a life for themselves while also being abused by their husbands. Of course one is from the perspective of the son but the concepts are pretty similar. This is interesting because they were published around the same time. I wonder if this was a common thing to happen during this time considering two stories revolving around a similar concept were written. This story is similar in prose to other stories we have written so the biggest difference is that there are more spanish words in both of them and it describes a culture that doesn't be to be brought into the limelight until then.


  3. 7. Character: In what ways does the character drive the action of the story?

    In this story Yunior has really bad motion sickness and the father ends up using this as an excuse to get out of the house and cheat on his wife. Saying that driving around would help the narrator get over it. The father's actions leads to some tension where Yunior has to think on if he should tell his mother about it or not. Yunior thinks a lot through the story about what telling his mother would do to her, and (if I'm interpreting this correctly) he doesn't tell his mom or his aunt. Due to him not liking the idea of his mother being alone. As well when at the party the father demands that Yunior doesn't eat any food leads to the narrator to somewhat isolate himself from the others eating. Making it easy for his aunt to take him away from the group and interrogate him about his father cheating.

  4. 1. What makes this story “literary”?

    This story is literary because it incorporates gut level and intellectual level themes seamlessly. It also holds so much character in not only the writing, but in the characters themselves. In this story, the center focus is on Yunior and the dynamics between him and his family. The epicenter of tension is definitely the father, and this tension spreads artfully to every other character introduced in the story. Yunior gets the blunt of the dad's aggression, the immediate family deals with it is some way (the brother with avoidance, and the mother with perhaps not knowing about the Puerto Rican woman), and the extended family is prone to the experience as well. This is shown by how Diaz chooses to say specifically that the father is louder than most men (perhaps the loudest at the party), and also how the aunt takes Yunior away to discuss his personal life. This short story is exactly as the title infers--it is a literary fiesta.

    - Elizabeth S.

  5. 4. Plot: What is the “rich ground situation” (conflict) of the story? What happens to complicate this ground situation?

    The "rich ground situation" to me is when Yunior is drawn into the secret affair his dad is having with the other woman. He now knows about it and has to decide whether or not to tell his mom or not. During the story, he analyzes the situation and the outcomes for his mom and ultimately decides he doesn't want to see her alone. However, when his aunt draws him away from the party to talk to him, he is again confronted with the conflict to tell his aunt and mother about the secret affair. There is tension throughout the entire short story and can be felt through every character too, not just Yunior and the dad.

  6. 10. Pick three of the best lines in the story. Why are they good lines?
    A. "I was never supposed to eat before our car trips, but earlier, when she had put out our dinner of rice, beans, and sweet platanos, guess who had been the first one to gobble his meal down?" I liked this line because at first, it seems like just a really funny line. But as the story goes on, it ends up becoming one of the driving points of the story (aka, the father using the son's car sickness as an excuse to cheat).
    B. " I knew an interrogation when I heard one, no matter how sugar coated or oblique it was." I liked this line because a lot of times (at least in my experience) "interrogations" are more often than not done in more calm ways than aggressively.
    C. "I couldn't see either of their faces and no matter how hard I tried I could not imagine their expressions." I love this line because (If I'm understanding this right) it symbolizes how the narrator can not see or understand either of his parents after what has been happening in his life.

  7. 6. Character: In what ways does the writer show character?
    The family's lives have all changed since moving to the United States. The narrator shows this in the way his mother cut her hair and wears cheap jewelry and how they now have a lime green car that is meant to impress. The father wants the family to look perfect on the outside, he is aggressive when his son gets car sick and is cheating with his mistress. The interactions with the family drive the story and how they all have changed since getting to America. The Dad's abuse is how we learn about most of the characters. Through the drives he takes Yunior on to "help with his car sickness" but really is is to see his mistress, in the way outside characters react to the fathers presence, how Yunior was questioned in the hallway about his father and how much his mother had changed since marrying his father. Although we see the story through Yunior he gives us all clear pictures of the other characters and how his father creates conflict within the family,


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