Impressions of “Fiesta, 1980”
I chose to write about my journal entry “Fiesta, 1980” by Junot Diaz for a variety of reasons. Throughout the story, I found myself relating to many of the characters and their situations. Coming from a Hispanic family myself, the cultural characteristics, feelings and behaviors are very similar to my own.
Many of the cultural characteristics portrayed by Yunior’s mother resemble those of my own mother. During my childhood my mother always gave me a blessing before we left our apartment by tracing the sign of the cross. We called this “la bendicion”, and she believed this gesture would keep me safe from harm. Like Yunior’s mother, my mother was also concerned for my wellbeing. Another cultural similarity my mother shares with Yunior’s mother is her attempt to cure different ailments with her homemade concoctions. She’s convinced her remedies work better than most medicines purchased in a bottle. An example of my mother’s cure for chest congestion is a foul drink made of warm milk and honey. Although I’m unable to confirm this actually worked, as a child I always agreed it did in order to avoid drinking more. Another one of her amusing remedies used to treat migraine headaches consisted of placing sliced potatoes on my forehead, then wrapping it up in a bandana to hold them in place. She claimed the potatoes would reduce inflammation from my head thus relieving my pain. Even now as an adult I still continue to use this treatment. I think Yunior’s Dominican mother, like my Colombian mother, was raised with certain holistic beliefs that were passed down to her by her family in her country of origin.
As I read my journal entry on this story, I realized that I shared similar feelings of fear toward my father to those of Yunior. For many years growing up, I was extremely cautious not to displease him. At times he would come home from work and by his demeanor I immediately knew when he was in a bad mood. Unlike Yunior, I knew my father loved me but his love for me did not prevent him from whipping me with his thick brown leather belt from time to time. Just like Rafa and Yunior, I was constantly battling with my brothers.
Our frequent bickering became too much for my father to bear and for several years he was extremely bitter and angry. He had strict rules and if they were not obeyed, he would discipline us with a heavy hand. When my family ate dinner, we would sit in total silence. My father sat at the head of the table, his eyes looking downward. Beside his plate was his belt. None of us ever made eye contact with him, not even my mother.
My family’s behaviors seem all too familiar to those of Yunior’s in this story. During times of celebration we’d play loud music like the author describes in “Fiesta, 1980”. There was always plenty of food and drink for everyone. The adults indulged in alcohol and quickly became inebriated while we (the children) were left unsupervised. I am certain that if any of us had been condemned to an evening without food, my Tia Horia or Tia Kelly would have smuggled us something to eat.
My overall impression of my journal entry and this story is purely coincidental. It seemed as if I was the protagonist of the story “Fiesta, 1980”. In comparison, the individual members of my family could easily play the roles of this story’s characters. It’s nice to know that I wasn’t the only Hispanic child raised under strict discipline. I really enjoyed reading this story. It brought back many old memories of my own life’s trials and tribulations.