Think about what Yunior’s operative mode is with the woman in his life. Deception.
Playing roles. Wearing masks. And then think about what Yunior does for his work. He is a writer of fiction. He puts on masks for a living. I don’t think it’s an accident, this connection, and this overlap. Yunior has turned a problem in his social life into the engine that powers his artistic life. But if he was just a liar I doubt he would be very interesting. What makes Yunior so attractive and so problematic is that he is both brutally honest and blithely mendacious. He really has a scathing eye, talks about stuff most of us would shy away from bringing up. He’s also a top-notched prevaricator. The game of the book is always for the reader to parse when he’s being one versus when he’s being the other.
But look at Yunior’s life; look at all he has suffered. He was never really loved in his family like his brother was. A smart, sensitive political kid, he had a tough time in the world he grew up in. I don’t ever really come out and say it but any one who grew up in a place like London Terrace, reading and dreaming, can only imagine what kind of turmoil a young Yunior must have faced. Not tougher than many young lives but tough enough — not a life you’d want for your kid, certainly. There is tremendous vulnerability in this character. What is he afraid of you ask? Perhaps returning to that vulnerability. Confronting it again. What is he so afraid of revealing? Himself: weak, despised, alone and desperately wanting the connection he was always denied.”
— junot diaz, here
(spoilers for this is how you lose her, and also, the interviewer asking him point-blank whether he was sexually abused, wtf that is not appropriate!!!!!!!!!!!) it feels kind of like cheating to be like “yes, what he said,” in this case, but that last paragraph especially is a big chunk of my feelings on yunior (especially the ones i talked about here
), said better.