Drown Junot Diaz Summary: Unveiling Perspectives

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Life is all about perspective. To a pig, it’s all about food, food like corn, apples, and a child’s face. The perspectives of two characters can be enough to shape a person’s story or personality. Yunior and his brother, in their time in Campo, have interactions with the character Ysrael, giving the readers a story behind the character as well. The character Ysrael, from Drown by Junot Diaz, the story isn’t told in one short story alone and also is shaped by the perspectives of multiple sources in the short stories “Ysrael” and “No Face.

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” Author Junot Diaz writes of Ysrael’s life by using the perspectives of others.


Shaping Ysrael’s Story: Perspectives of Side Characters

The author uses the perspectives of side characters to tell the story of Israel. “Even on this side of Ocoa, people had heard of him, how when he was a baby a pig had eaten his face off, skinned it like an orange.” (Diaz 7) Diaz included this in the short story “Ysrael” to show that even the young character, Yunior, had heard of Ysrael. Even having gotten just a fraction of the story of Israel, he was more than able to tell a perception of it. “Rafa took off his mask and threw it, spinning into the grass. His left ear was a nub, and you could see the thick veined slab of his tongue through a hole in his cheek. He had no lips. His head was tipped back, and his eyes had gone white, and the cords were out on his neck. He’d been an infant when the pig had come into the house. The damage looked old, but I still jumped back and said, Please, Rafa, let’s go!” (19) Yunior’s first-hand experience witnessing the damage on Ysrael’s face shows how the others view Ysrael. Once again, the author takes the perspectives of the others to build Ysrael’s story by giving a backstory to the character from the eyes of others. In reality, the perspectives of side personalities aren’t reliable enough to determine a person’s character or history, but in the writing of Junot Diaz, it is enough to give a relevant interpretation of the story of Israel.

Ysrael’s actions are recorded in the third person, building a better idea of the character. “Today he buys Kaliman, who takes no shit and wears a turban. If his face were covered, he’d be perfect.” (155) Ysrael is shown to view the superheroes as himself. He thinks the superheroes would be better if they had similar traits to his own. “His little brother Pesao is awake, flicking beans at the chickens, his little body bowed and perfect” (159). The third-person narration includes the little brother’s perfect body to show what Ysrael was noticing. Israel was disfigured as a baby and has always known the thought of being imperfect, so he’s jealous of his brother for having what he didn’t get the chance to enjoy. Ysrael’s actions were recorded, giving a sense of his emotions and perspective, but his thoughts aren’t shown.

The Silent Narrative of Ysrael

Ysrael’s true perspective, in his eyes, isn’t provided in “Ysrael” or “No Face,” so the author’s story of Ysrael isn’t truly complete. “I’m from here, he said. The mask twitched. I realized he was smiling.” (18). Yunior was only able to guess Ysrael was smiling when the mask twitched. The twitching mask is not a reliable source in the guessing of emotions, showing Ysrael’s emotions still aren’t conveyed. “When he awakens, he’s screaming and blood brains down his neck; he’s bitten his tongue, and it swells, and he cannot sleep again until he tells himself to be a man.” (158). Ysrael’s dreams and actions are said to the readers, but his emotions aren’t told. Israel tells himself, “Be a man,” but the text never says he’s scared. The reader must assume because it’s the logical response that the dream is a nightmare, but maybe Ysrael is angry because he was defenseless as a baby, so he tells himself to “be a man” as a means to justify his helplessness; the reader is unable to identify Ysrael’s exact emotions. The perspective of the character Ysrael himself is not shown, therefore proving the author must use other sources as a method to tell Ysrael’s story.


Author Junot Diaz uses the perspectives of side characters and a third-person narration of Ysrael’s actions even though he doesn’t give us the true perspective of Ysrael to give the reader the story of Ysrael. The perspective of others is the only source the author provides to shape the story of the character. All sources gather the perspective of Ysrael is lacking, giving a view of the withheld argument from the character; the idea of being enunciated by the argument leaves Ysrael and characters with perspectives favoring him against the crowds speaking in the passage, showing Ysrael is truly the other. 


  1. Diaz, Junot. “Drown.” Penguin Books, 1997.
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Drown Junot Diaz Summary: Unveiling Perspectives. (2023, Aug 25). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/drown-junot-diaz-summary-unveiling-perspectives/