The story, which relies heavily upon sexual references and drug use, opens with the first-person narrator and his friend, Cut, buying a stash of weed, some of which they use as they drive home to sort, weigh, and bag. The cut is eating cookies, but the narrator is waiting for his girlfriend. He notices that the places where she’d scratched him are healing. When she arrives, he notes that she’s skinny “like a twelve-year-old” and that she has the shakes, coming down off some drug.
They have sex, and she begs him to “go easy,” but he’s high and hormonal and hurts her, anyway. He feels bad about it the next morning. “A Working Day” is the next section in the story, wherein the protagonist and his friends are out selling drugs, including the marijuana they bought the day before, but also some cocaine. They sell to kids and older people.
Junot Diaz’s Aurora is a short story that illustrates a less than perfect relationship between the narrator and his on again-off again, drug-addicted girlfriend.
The two lovers have anything but a healthy relationship, though somehow they always stay connected. The story takes place in a gritty part of New Jersey, and the author uses literary elements such as tone, character, and point-of-view to depict a realistic and volatile relationship between two lovers. The overall tone of Aurora is realistically laid out and unforgiving in the use of profanity and sometimes harsh descriptions. The narrator is truthful and doesn’t leave anything to the imagination. The reader is easily able to develop a real sense of discord throughout the story.
Some may describe Aurora as a short story with offensive language, but without Diaz’s blatant use of word choice and description, the story would not have the same impact on readers. Diaz’s use of character throughout the story gives the reader a realistic view of the world of drug abuse, domestic violence, and the urban setting of some of New Jersey’s Dominican inhabitants. The narrator doesn’t sugar coat anything, nor does he give excuses for his lifestyle and behaviors. The characters are transparent and candid.
The narrator’s girlfriend is described as being a drug-addicted homeless teenager who is unpredictable and lives each day as it comes. The relationship between the two is strained at times, and although there is major dysfunction between them, they always come back to one another. Through specification and detail, the reader is able to relate to the characters’ struggles with one another and connect to their heartbreaking story. The point of view of the narrator is straightforward and honest. His use of detail, even when it makes him look like a bad person, allows the reader to develop a sense of trust for what is being described.
Through the author’s use of dialogue, the readers are able to get a better sense of the other characters’ personalities, how they feel about the relationship between Aurora and the narrator, and their general goals throughout the story. Through the narrator’s admittance of his own faults and the faults of the other characters in the story, the audience is able to trust that what is being told is accurate and reliable. Diaz brilliantly utilizes the literary elements of tone, character, and point of view to depict a love story that is unconventional, yet genuine. Aurora is anything but a fairy-tale, which gives a modern and original appeal.
Diaz gives not a glorified love story, but a sad account of what often happens in everyday life.
In this episode of Diaz’s work, the narrator and his friend, Cut, are drug dealers living in a poor neighborhood. They deal with drugs to “a lot of kids and some older folks who haven’t had a job or a haircut since the last census” (51). They are small-time dealers but do well enough to drive around in a Pathfinder. The narrator has a girlfriend named Aurora who is addicted to drugs. She recently spent time in juvenile detention. Their relationship is more distant since she came out.
Analysis The narrator stays with his drug-addicted girlfriend, Aurora, even though their relationship has changed: “We were tighter before she got sent to juvie, much tighter” (54). She focuses more on her drug habit than on her boyfriend. She longs for his affection especially when they were separated but her longing is not as strong as her addiction. Nothing is as strong as her addiction. Her boyfriend stays with her because he still has feelings for her. Her drug habit comes between them and they make the best of it. Diaz’s use of the plot is ironic because he is a drug dealer.
The narrator sees the effects of drugs on both sides. He benefits from other people’s dependency. But drugs also hurt him because Aurora’s addiction interferes with their relationship. They don’t spend much time together because she goes away to the Hacienda to be around her drug-addicted friends. Still, he imagines a different ending to their story: “I’d put my arm around her and I wouldn’t let her go for like fifty years, maybe not ever. I know people who quit just like that, who wake up one day with bad breath and say, No more. I’ve had enough” (61). He wants her to quit but he doesn’t know how to make her stop.
As a dealer, he knows how to supply addiction but not how to stop it. He wants to hold on to the past because he hasn’t accepted the fact that their lives have changed. He doesn’t want change in his life and to let her go would allow change. Even Cut advises him to cut his losses: “Stay away from her, Cut said. Luck like that doesn’t get better. No sweat, I said. You know I got the iron will. People like her got addictive personalities. You don’t want to be catching that” (63). Cut sees that their relationship is headed for disaster and that his friend is turning a blind eye to it.
He gives him advice so that he can really think about the troubled path he is on with Aurora. Although he does not supply her with drugs, he does nothing to help her beat the habit. In this way, he is ignoring the problem and living the fantasy of a normal relationship. He supplies to people just like her but doesn’t make the connection. He helps destroy the lives of other people and does nothing to help his girlfriend who is destroying her own life.
- Why is the main character’s name left out? Is this a novel or a group of stories?
- How do the tone and content of Diaz’s work differ from other Latino writers we have read?