Drown

by

Junot Díaz

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Television Symbol Analysis

Television Symbol Icon

 “Drown” is a story in which characters rarely talk to one another about the things that matter most. Instead of talking directly about important subjects, they watch television together and remain in silence. Television, then, is a proxy for human interaction: it can be a barrier to communication, a bonding force in relationships where there isn’t much to be said, or a way to avoid dealing with uncomfortable issues. Yunior’s mother tells him Beto is home, for instance, Yunior does not answer because he is watching television, and when Yunior leaves Beto’s apartment after their second sexual encounter Beto keeps his eyes on the TV and doesn’t acknowledge Yunior’s departure (or the sexual violation that has just taken place). On the one hand, television is the primary way that Yunior and his mother interact and express affection, watching telenovelas together to create a safe and silent space to share each other’s company without the added pressure of speech of explanation. However, this same protective silence is inverted in Yunior’s relationship with Beto, in which the TV both facilitates and masks Beto’s unwanted sexual advances. Yunior keeps his eyes on the TV primarily to ignore what is being done to his body without his consent. In addition, Yunior spends most of his time watching television, and it often allows him to escape from the problems of his own life, immersing himself instead in the “violence” of the Spanish language news or a documentary at the local library. 

Television Quotes in Drown

The Drown quotes below all refer to the symbol of Television. 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 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:

The actors throw themselves around, passionate, but their words are plain and deliberate. It’s hard to imagine anybody going through life this way.

Related Characters: Yunior (speaker)
Related Symbols: Television
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
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Drown PDF

Television Symbol Timeline in Drown

The timeline below shows where the symbol Television 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... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Returning from the pool, Yunior finds that his mother is still awake and he watches television with her. They settle on the Spanish language news because it provides violence for Yunior... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
...but are now able to be civil. Yunior ignores her and continues to watch the television. (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
...he could. Beto said nothing as Yunior left to go home; he just kept watching TV. (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
The 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... (full context)