Killing / Fiesta
Today, family is one of the most sacred values we share in the individualist society we live in. Every family is different and has different rules and values; but in most of them, fathers are supposed to be leaders of the family, and role models for their children. They are also considerate like the one who transmits the traditions of their ancestors in order to carry them on. “Fiesta, 1980” is a short story written by Junot Diaz taken from his short story collection, Drown, (1996). Killings” is also a short story taken from, Finding a Girl in America (1980), written by Andre Dubus. Both of these stories are dealing with the family’s subject and provide us different perspectives of it. In Diaz’s story we can see the relationship among a foreigner family, while in Andre Dubus’s story we see an American average family. In both stories, fathers play an important role; they figure prominently and have a considerable impact on their family but on the story also.
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The father in Dubus’s story is more family oriented that the one in Diaz’; moreover the family is more closely–knit in Dubus’s story than in Diaz’s story. The difference between the behaviors of the two fathers can be explained by their cultural backgrounds, which are not the same. These stories also provide us another perspective of the father’s role in the family, through their strength and their weakness without compromise. In the story written by Dubus, Matt Flower, the main character symbolizes the loving father.
He was very protective of his children when they were younger: “He had always been a fearful father: when his children were young, at the start of each summer he thought of them drowning in a pond or the sea, and he was relieved when he came home in the evenings and they were there; usually that relief was his only acknowledgement of his fear; which he never spoke of, and which he controlled within his heart. ” (Dubus 101) That statement shows the reader how much Matt cared about his children as to imagine the worst things that could have happened to them.
That’s a strong proof of the love and the attention he pays to them. On the other hand in the story written by Junot Diaz, the father appears to be very authoritative with his children which is reflected by this part of the text: “We were all dressed by then, which was a smart move on our part. If Papi had walked in and caught us lounging around in our underwear, man, he would have kicked our asses something serious. ”(Diaz 157) This part of the story shows us how much the father was feared by his children so we can establish that he had a conflicting relationship with them.
Another point that emphasizes this conflicting relationship with his children is when he didn’t want Tia to give food to Junior at the party because he didn’t want him to vomit in his car. That was supposed to be a party; everybody was happy and enjoying, so Junior must have felt frustrated to see all the other kids eating while he couldn’t. That exposes how selfish and unfair is Papi. Matt Fowler is described as man with morals. Indeed we see that he felt guilty after he committed the murder, which is not the case of true killers; but the death of his youngest son was too much for him to accept.
He felt like the only solution was to avenge his death. It was maybe motivated by the fact that his oldest son, Steve, said during the funerals that he should kills him talking about Richard Strout, the murderer of his brother: “Steve, turned to him as the family left the grave and walked between their friends, and said -I should kill him-. ” (Dubus 96). Being the leader of the family he probably thought it was his duty to do it in order to accept the death of Frank, but also maybe to protect Steve from committing a murder and facing prison.
Although it is in conflict with his values he had to kill Richard Strout in order to protect his family from being in contact with him. It is said that his wife Ruth saw him a few times in town, which was very difficult for her to stand. That’s why it is understandable for a respectable man like him to take his responsibilities and protect his family by killing the murderer of his son. Unlike Papi who didn’t have the same morals as Matt, indeed, in addition of being unfaithful to his wife, he allowed himself to take his children to his mistress’s place, which shows the poor consideration he had for his own amily members. It was like he didn’t care, he didn’t even have the decency to not get his kids involved with his infidelity. Another point that shows us that Papi is self-centered is when he took Junior to his mistress and ask him to just sit and watch tv like nothing happened, like it was a normal thing for him to cheat and that he didn’t have to hide: “ Why don’t you go watch TV? Papi suggested. He already had his hand on her ass and didn’t care that I was watching. He was looking at her like she was the last piece of chicken on earth. We got plenty channels, she said. Use the remote if you want.
The two of them went upstairs and I was too scared of what was happening to poke around. I just sat there, ashamed, expecting something big and fiery to crash down on all our heads. I watched a whole hour of the news before Papi came downstairs and said, Let’s go” (Diaz 156) . In “Killings” the relationship between Matt Fowler and his wife appears to be honest, sincere and full of love as notice in this quote from the text: “He went down the hall to the bathroom and in the dark he washed his hands and face. Then he went to her, lay on his back, and pulled the sheet up to his throat. …] She was holding him, wanting him, and he wished he could make love with her…”(Dubus107). Therefore, after he did kill Richard Strout, he told everything to his wife, which is a great proof of the trust he had for his wife. We can tell that Matt Fowler could have always counted on the support of his wife regardless of the circumstances. On the other hand, the relationship between Papi and Mami was not that good, first of all because he was cheating on her but also because they had the habit to argue and have frequent fights as the narrator let us know: “ […] and I kept expecting something to come of this, a brawl maybe.
I’d never once been out with my family when it hadn’t turned to shit. We were a Doomsday on wheels. We weren’t even theatrical or straight crazy like other families. We fought like sixth grader, without any real dignity. I guess the whole night I’ve been waiting for a blowup, something between Papi and Mami. This was how I always figured Papi would be exposed, out in public, where everybody would know. ”(Diaz 156) Beside, when there were at the party they didn’t dance that much together.
They just danced for a song, then split up, and then dance again. That must signified they couldn’t stand each other for a long time; they maybe needed breaks. However Junior doesn’t want to present his father, as a monster even if he was cheating on his mother, but he didn’t really understands the complexity of relationships between adults. . He emphasizes it at the end of the story when he said that his father did put his hand on his mother’s leg when they were in their way back home after the party.
That maybe meant that although his father was a cheater he had love for his wife but that love wasn’t enough, he was probably the kind of man that needed more than one woman in his life to fulfill his desires Overall, these stories involved two fathers and their families in different situations. One was a loving husband, a protective father and a respectable man who has been in an uncomfortable situation after the death of his youngest son, and who decided to take his revenge on the murderer of his son maybe to protect his older son who might could have done it by himself.