Exploring Yunior’s Behavior towards Aurora
The relationship described in Aurora is a confusing combination of affection and violence. While it is difficult to comprehend, such a situation is not uncommon in the social and cultural setting of the main character. Both the dominant role and the level of authority exercised by Yunior’s father and his observations of the older boys’ attitudes towards the girls share the same set of characteristics and thus can be linked to his behavior and inner conflict that underlies his behavior towards Aurora.
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There are two aspects of behavior exhibited towards Aurora by the main character that prime their relationship. The first is love and strong affection towards each other. This can be seen throughout the story, as the characters continue to seek each other’s company despite the harshness of the protagonist. On some occasions, Aurora is very gentle and caring, such as in the episode described by the narrator “she picks off my glasses and kisses the parts of my face that rarely gets touched” (Diaz 52).
The second aspect is the shockingly misogynistic behavior displayed by the main character. Most commonly, it can be seen in the bursts of violence that occur between him and his girlfriend. Interestingly such repelling and controversial behavior does not prevent the two from being together and on some occasions even creates an impression of a driving force that continues to hold their relationship together. What’s more, the main character himself recognizes this effect, describing it as “we hurt each other too well to let it drop” (Diaz 52).
In certain situations, a violent act of one of the partners creates an equally repelling response from the other which was described by the protagonist as “She once tried to jam a pen in my thigh, but that was the night I punched her chest black-and-blue so I don’t think it counts” (Diaz 53). Such abusive behavior extends far and deep within the characters’ daily routines, topics of their conversations, and even the sexual practices. Frequently during sex scenes, the main character acts aggressively and harshly despite Aurora’s attempts to tone it down.
At this point, it is worth noting that she is a drug addict and her stature is rather frail and weak, which adds and an extra level of brutality due to the contrast between the character’s masculinity and her absurd obedience. However, the absurdity becomes less confusing once we consider the possibility that this situation can at least partially be attributed to the character’s heritage and his previous cultural and social experiences, some of which can be seen in many episodes throughout the book. One such situation is the scene where the protagonist reveals his feelings towards Aurora to one of his friends, Cut, who is also a partner in drug dealing. “If I had half a brain I would have done what Cut told me to do. Dump her sorry ass.
When I told him we were in love he laughed” (Diaz 64). This scene illustrates perfectly the expectations placed on a young male: he needs to display a certain amount of machismo, stay abusive, and downplay the feelings of care to make sure his reputation is not compromised. It is also notable that the confession of being in love with his girlfriend follows the sentence where he voices his regret of not leaving her sooner. This detail suggests that the character experiences an inner struggle, most likely between his feelings of affection and the social norms that require him to be abusive and harsh.
Another proof that the behavior can be attributed to the cultural experience is the fact that the protagonist always considers the possibility of living a “normal” life with Aurora only when he is alone and does not try to discuss these ideas with anyone. On the other hand, when invited to the wedding with her, he immediately recognizes that she does not match the concept of a good wife by imagining them in a social environment.
The protagonist’s experience contains numerous episodes that have doubtlessly influenced his worldview and, by extension, his behavior towards Aurora. In Fiesta, Yunior’s father is portrayed throughout the text as an authoritative, and aggressive figure. The household functions according to strictly defined rules and disobedience is not tolerated. In a scene describing the preparation for the party, the main character states that “If Papi had walked in and caught us lounging around in our underwear, he would have kicked our asses something serious” (Diaz 23).
In other words, physical abuse is something that Yunior deals with daily and that has become routine to the point that it is now considered normal and even expected. The story contains several other details that suggest that male dominance is a social norm. The decision to organize a party, for example, comes from the boy’s father even though it takes place in his sister’s house. The punctuality and precision with which the family gets ready for the event are expected from everyone except Papi who comes at the very last moment and starts taking a shower – most likely to hide the fact that he was with another woman. The model of behavior is readily accepted by Yunior’s older brother, Rafa, who follows it by punching the main character and otherwise demeaning him throughout the story.
A similar situation can be seen in Negocios, which further details the early life of the main character. Throughout the story, the relationships between his mother and father are described as based on male authority and aggression. When the father returned home late, the mother “acted as if he were a troublesome visitor who had to be endured” (Diaz 165).
However, such behavior further aggravated the situation as it often resulted in violence: “Many times Papi took hold of her arms and pushed her against the slumping walls of the house, thinking his touch would snap her from her brooding silence, but instead she slapped and kicked him” (Diaz 166). Simply put, the boy was exposed to from early childhood the very type of behavior he would later apply to his woman.
The demeaning attitude towards women through machismo is another tendency that can be traced back to Yunior’s early experiences from the past. In Ysrael, he recounts his night conversations with Rafa, during which he bragged about his experiences with the girls. The stories were detailed, and while the protagonist was too young to understand all the details, it is clear than in most cases they involved dominance of some kind. The girls were usually portrayed as stupid, uncaring, and otherwise inferior to the narrator, who was “handsome and spoke out of the corner of his mouth” (Diaz 6).
To conclude, the female obedience and male dominance observed in a complicated relationship between Aurora and Yunior can be traced to his past experiences of observing his family members’ behavior. As a result, he must suppress his affection towards Aurora to comply with the expectations of his friends and, to a certain degree, the girl herself.
Diaz, Junot. Drown. Riverhead Books, 1996.