Myfanwy's Reviews > Drown

Drown by Junot Díaz
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jun 23, 07

There are several recurrent themes running through this collection (the lost father, the regained father, the lost love, brotherhood, betrayal--often sexual) but the one I found most striking was that of facelessness.

You would think that facelessness is synonymous with invisibility, but here it is not. There is something within that facelessness, which makes the person all the more visible--scorned, pitied, hated, feared, and by some, treated with great kindness. The faced want the faceless to be gone for good because they represent the worst fear: That you, too, might one day suffer this fate where all that defines you to the outside world is stripped away, where you are a stranger in a strange land--where you are unloved and unlovable.

"Ysrael" is the boy with no face, his face having been mostly chewed off by a pig when he was an infant. Because of this he wears a mask and awaits a humanitarian intervention in which doctors in Canada are meant to restore his face. But this day never seems to come and he is scorned and beaten, but he is also an object of intense interest. There is something about him that fascinates the other boys; if only they could just see behind his mask. But even when they do, it infuriates them, repulses them. There is nothing in seeing his face that makes them feel better about themselves. It only makes them feel worse, more powerless.

Then when the reader sees the world from his point of view in "No Face," we understand that though he is deformed and maligned there is still great hope and beauty in his world, though he might not realize it. There is something strong deep within that will keep him alive despite the obstacles. He is a survivor. He will run.

So Ysrael stands for the best hope of all of the faceless within these stories--and the message is to keep going, keep running, keep moving forward no matter how people will push you down and try to keep you from being seen.

In that, a book, which might otherwise be bleak, I found quite hopeful. And so, in the end, what you have is a collection of stories that are beautiful, necessary, and heartbreaking. Read it.
29 likes · Likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Drown.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Kelsey (new) - added it

Kelsey This is a wonderful description of the story. I have been trying so hard to find a way to describe what I have been reading and this is it. The stories are truly heartbreaking but wonderful. It"s about being faceless and losing who you are. It's terrifying to read, and to think something so horrible is possible, but that's more out of fear than anything. People are afraid to loss what defines them. The book really does teach you to keep going, no matter what happens. It's all you can do, just keep trying. Everyone is going to push you down, you have to just keep picking up the pieces.

message 2: by Shadi (new)

Shadi Shihadeh I notice too that the only true faceless (or partially) faceless character in the story, at least on a literal level is the young wrestler in waiting who lost his face in a terrible tragedy involving a pig. His story is never finished at the conclusion of the Novel but we can assume it follows that he goes to NY to get the operation to the "improvement" of his life. I emphasize improvement because it is the "desired" outcome, strongly connected to the desired outcome of other émigrés from DR, including Yunior's father.

The wrestler could stand as a symbol of hope that meaningful identity could be attained. At the same time it can reflect a sign of despair that meaningful identity could be completely lost. The latter seems to follow the example set by Yunior's family.

Lani Burdette I absolutely loved your review! Your themes were impeccable and stunning. I never thought of the theme of facelessness but it makes complete sense to me now thank you so much!

Katie Erspamer I loved your review as well. I never picked out the theme "facelessness" until I read your review. Many people can't see past physical features and that is what is wrong with our world. I think Diaz did a great job expressing this throughout his book.

back to top