Drown

by

Junot Díaz

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Yunior’s childhood best friend and early partner in crime. Beto is a natural leader whose swagger, strength, and risk-taking made him one of Yunior’s earliest male role models. He and Yunior spent lots of time together swimming, shoplifting, or watching TV, but Beto always had a life beyond Yunior: Beto was an adept and ambitious student who always planned to escape their hometown and attend college, and he had many friends Yunior didn’t know, particularly in the New York club scene. Despite this, both Yunior and Yunior’s Mother once considered Beto to be a member of their family, and Beto always tried to push Yunior to want more from his life and to set himself up to leave their town. Beto is now a college graduate on his way to business school, and he and Yunior no longer speak, an estrangement that stems from two unwanted sexual encounters that Beto forced on Yunior the summer before Beto left for college. While Yunior’s trauma, sense of betrayal, and ingrained homophobia led him to cut off their friendship, by the end of the story it seems that Yunior is curious about the possibility of reconciling with his old friend.

Beto Quotes in Drown

The Drown quotes below are all either spoken by Beto or refer to Beto. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead edition of Drown published in 1996.
Drown Quotes

He's a pato now but two years ago we were friends and he would walk into the apartment without knocking, his heavy voice rousing my mother from the Spanish of her room and drawing me up from the basement, a voice that crackled and made you think of uncles or grandfathers.

Related Characters: Yunior (speaker), Yunior’s Mother, Beto
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

He hated when I knew something he didn't. He put his hands on my shoulders and pushed me under. He was wearing a cross and cutoff jeans. He was stronger than me and held me down until water flooded my nose and throat. Even then I didn't tell him; he thought I didn't read, not even dictionaries.

Related Characters: Yunior (speaker), Beto
Related Symbols: The Pool
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

Both of us had seen bad shoplifters at work. All grab and run, nothing smooth about them. Not us. We idled out of the stores slow, like a fat seventies car.

Related Characters: Yunior (speaker), Beto
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

“They don’t send you to jail for shoplifting. They just turn you over to your old man.”

Related Characters: Beto (speaker), Yunior, Yunior’s Father
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

He knew a lot of folks I didn't—a messed-up black kid from Madison Park, two brothers who were into that N.Y. club scene, who spent money on platform shoes and leather backpacks. I'd leave a message with his parents and then watch some more TV. The next day he’d be out at the bus stop, too busy smoking a cigarette to say much about the day before.

Related Characters: Yunior (speaker), Beto
Related Symbols: Television
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:

Mostly I stayed in the basement, terrified that I would end up abnormal, a fucking pato, but he was my best friend and back then that mattered to me more than anything.

Related Characters: Yunior (speaker), Beto
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:

After I was done, he laid his head in my lap. I wasn’t asleep or awake but caught somewhere in between, rocking slowly back and forth the way surf holds junk against the shore, rolling it over and over.

Related Characters: Yunior (speaker), Beto
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Drown LitChart as a printable PDF.
Drown PDF

Beto Character Timeline in Drown

The timeline below shows where the character Beto appears in Drown. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Drown
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
When Yunior is home watching television, Yunior’s mother tells him that his old friend Beto is home from college. When his mother is asleep, Yunior puts on his jacket and... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
Physical Ability  Theme Icon
Yunior remembers that the summer before Beto went to college, the two boys were “raging”: stealing everything they could, breaking windows, and... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
Yunior explains that Beto was “delirious” at the thought of leaving for college because he hated everything about their... (full context)
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
Physical Ability  Theme Icon
As he makes his way towards Beto’s apartment, Yunior remembers the ways that the two boys used to spend their summers together.... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
When he arrives at Beto’s apartment, Yunior is stirred from his memory. He puts his ear to the door, but... (full context)
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
...himself, Yunior makes his way towards the familiar racket at the local pool, assuming that Beto will be there. As he has gotten older, it has become much harder for him... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
Physical Ability  Theme Icon
...to which someone has added “No Fat Chiks.” When they were younger, Yunior recalls that Beto became upset with him when Yunior knew what “expectorating” meant and Beto did not. When... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
Yunior’s mother is disappointed that he wasn’t able to find Beto, thinking that it is a shame that the two don’t talk anymore. Yunior’s mother tells... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
When Yunior’s mother tells Yunior that Beto also asked how he was doing, Yunior is angry and embarrassed that she didn’t lie... (full context)
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
While his mother shops, Yunior tracks the same route through the mall that he and Beto used to at the height of their shoplifting. He recalls the way that they finessed... (full context)
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
Physical Ability  Theme Icon
Beto’s recklessness always made Yunior uneasy, worrying that the two might go to jail. Beto made... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
Indeed, one day when shoplifting from the book store, Yunior and Beto get stopped by the store security guard asking to check their bag. Yunior tries to... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
Physical Ability  Theme Icon
Without Beto’s friendship, Yunior now spends his evenings with his friends Alex and Danny, drinking at a... (full context)
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
Yunior remembers that he often skipped classes when he and Beto were in high school. Because he didn’t have a car, Yunior would spend the day... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
As the two boys watched the video, Beto reached into Yunior’s pants and began to give him a hand job. He continued despite... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
...his feelings of hurt and confusion, Yunior still goes to the pool that night because Beto is still his best friend. After they swim in silence, Beto takes Yunior back to... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
Confronted with the reality of Beto leaving for college, Yunior thinks back to a time when his high school teachers made... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
After the second sexual encounter, Yunior sits in silence on Beto’s couch for a long time. Soon, he hears the hallway door burst open. He jumps... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
The narrative returns to the present, weeks after Yunior went looking for Beto at the pool. Yunior explains that he believes he saw Beto driving in his father’s... (full context)