The novel, Drown, taught me about the experience of immigrating to the United States from the Dominican immigrants’ angle. For example, the narrator on the first page says, “we stole, broke windows, we pissed on people’s steps and then challenged them to stop us” (Diaz, Drown 93). This made me think of the lack of safety in this neighborhood, fear of immigrants, and fear of living nearby them. I noticed how this novel starts talking about the outside picture, which is Beto and his friends were breaking up windows and then the inside picture, which is why they’re doing that. It’s almost like showing the issue first and then the causes of this issue. At first, the narrator’s family were financially unstable: “We live alone. My mother has enough for the rent and groceries and I cover the phone bill, sometimes the cable.” Here, I learned that the narrator had to do some illegal actions to support his mother in paying their house bills. In other words, the narrator meant that he had to steal so he can survive from poverty. Then, the narrator moved the focus of this story to his mother who “has discovered the secret of silence…. crying without a sound” (Diaz, Drown 94). This quote made me feel the importance of mother in every family, especially in refugee families. As a Syrian immigrant, I also experienced living without a father during a certain period of my life. I remember how my mom was the source of motivation and power to me and my brother. I knew that my mother used to feel depressed for living without her husband but she never showed it to us so my brother and I don’t feel discouraged to accept our challenge of adapting the new situations. In other words, I think that when the narrator mentioned his mother, he probably meant to appreciate his mother for all of her efforts to create a better life for the family. Last but not least, I thought it was very interesting to see how Diaz shared some of his cultures by including some foreign words that he would say at his house and some of the food, such as Mangu. I have some Syrian friends who stopped speaking Arabic and eating some Middle Eastern food because they didn’t want to look different than their friends in the United States. However, when the narrator used words from his native language, he showed how he was accepting his native country’s cultures even after immigrating to the United States. Finally, I thought it was very interesting that the name of this chapter is Drown even though the book is also called Drown. I think that he used the word Drown to describe a certain period of his life as drowning from the obstacles. For example, Diaz described in this chapter his horrible life like how his parents were separated, he expected to get caught stealing clothes at some point, and expected to fail school that he didn’t really care. In other words, as an eighteen years old teen, this could have been a heartbreaking even though he never said that in his writings.
I really enjoyed reading this chapter because it made me ask myself how can the United States help those immigrants to build a better life for themselves and to contribute to the United States? I think that in this chapter, Diaz showed how some children of immigrants may act in a certain ways because of the lack of opportunities and luck in their lives. I think that if we support them, we can build a well-educated and strong generation.