Public and Private Spheres in Drown College

In Drown by Junot Diaz, there are decisive spaces for men and women within the text. Yunior and his mother demonstrate a compelling and complex dichotomy between a dependent maternal figure and an independent male figure. These two figures are each unique in their presentations of masculinity and femininity as they exist outside of traditional gender roles and expression. However, by transcending gender expectations, both Yunior and his mother are policed and ostracized because they do not adhere to normative ideologies.

Yunior’s mother represents traditional Latinidad roles as she remains loyal and supportive of her son and husband. Conversely, Yunior’s mother is presented as maintaining distance between herself and her son, as the only things that pass between them are money, silence, and protection. Undoubtedly, she is playing a role that she cannot escape, because if she did not adhere to societal norms she would lose her connection to her son and her sense of safety. Physically, Yunior’s mother predominantly exists in the domestic sphere, wading from room to room in silence. As Yunior describes her, “She’s so quiet that most of the time I’m startled to find her in the apartment” (Diaz, 94). Metaphorically, this silence...

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