Drown

by

Junot Díaz

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Drown can help.

Yunior’s Mother Character Analysis

Yunior and his mother live together in a small apartment in Edison, New Jersey. Since Yunior’s father has been absent for much of his life, Yunior’s mother is the center of his world. Although the two live in close quarters and take care of one another, they are somewhat distant: Yunior keeps his work selling drugs and his personal life private from his mother, while she mostly moves quietly through her own routines, spending much of her time alone in her own room, cooking, or searching for bargains on home goods. For Yunior, she is an emblem of the “old world,” a relic of the Dominican Republic that both comforts and annoys him. In addition, Yunior’s mother requires Yunior to perform many of the tasks that his father used to (from driving her to the mall to making sure all the windows are locked at night). In doing so, she inadvertently stifles Yunior’s ability to become his own person by forcing him to define himself in relation to her and his father instead of figuring out who he actually wants to be.

Yunior’s Mother Quotes in Drown

The Drown quotes below are all either spoken by Yunior’s Mother or refer to Yunior’s Mother. 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:

She has discovered the secret to silence: pouring café without a splash, walking between rooms as if gliding on a cushion of felt, crying without a sound. You have traveled to the East and learned many secret things, I've told her. You're like a shadow warrior.

Related Characters: Yunior (speaker), Yunior’s Mother
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Drown LitChart as a printable PDF.
Drown PDF

Yunior’s Mother Character Timeline in Drown

The timeline below shows where the character Yunior’s Mother 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... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Yunior explains that he still lives alone with his mother, and though she still pays the rent and utilities, he makes enough to cover the... (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... (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... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Over the weekend, Yunior’s mother asks him to take her to the mall. Yunior agrees, explaining that he sees it... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
Before they can go out, however, Yunior’s mother makes Yunior check every window latch in their house. Despite the fact that they never... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Yunior notes that it is a special occasion when his mother decides to go out, and she always gets dressed up and puts on makeup. As... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
...be teenagers that he sells to. He prays he will not be recognized, but his mother seems not to notice. (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
At the mall, Yunior gives his mother fifty-dollars to spend. He explains that, when he was younger, his father would give her... (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... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
Yunior recalls that his mother never suspected that he was shoplifting, even though he brought home large quantities of new... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
When Yunior returns from his run, he finds his mother whispering on the phone. She is on the phone with Yunior’s father, who lives in... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
Physical Ability  Theme Icon
...the day in the basement instead, terrified that he will end up “abnormal.” When his mother tries to find out what is wrong, Yunior snaps at her, causing his father, who... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
When Yunior gets home, he finds his mother cooking dinner. She shows him new t-shirts that she bought for him on two-for-one special.... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
...two sit down to watch a classic Spanish movie on TV and Yunior gives his mother the money that he earned for the day. She chastises him for crumpling the bills... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
As they watch the movie, Yunior’s mother takes his hand in hers. Near the end of the film, she falls asleep and... (full context)