It is complicated for young people to imagine that once upon a time, women and certain sections of society were deprived of the opportunity to get an education and their dream profession. Women, in accordance with paternalistic attitudes, had to work in the household and devote themselves to exhausting work. Their situation could only change with the advent of a new political course, although this was not welcomed by society. In order to receive a basic education, women had to show courage. This is perfectly demonstrated by Junot Diaz in his essay “The Dreamer”. Junot Diaz, in a concise form, creates an impressive picture of the life of a little girl, his mother, who dreamed of going against the established system and getting a school education.
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Status of Women and Morals
The status of a woman was dictated by her family and inner circle, which projected certain patriarchal values. Junot Diaz describes that his grandmother and great-grandmother were categorically against his mother’s dreams: “Her mother, my grandmother, demanded that she stay on the farm, that she stay a mule” (85). Here, it is noticeable how women did not want to fight for their rights to get an education; they wanted to leave everything as it was. However, it must be said that his mother’s struggle was not just a woman’s struggle for education; it was a struggle of a woman from a racial minority (Salusky and Tull). This complicated her path, she was “The kind of Dominican girl who was destined never to get off the mountain or out of the campo” (Diaz 84). Gender and racial prejudices hung over the author’s mother, stating that her entire fate should be determined by work on coffee plantations and agriculture.
Dictatorship of Trujillo
A change in political course helped a little girl hope for her dream come true. The dictator changed the life of a dreamer: “Trujillo, passed a mandatory-education act stipulating that all Dominican children under the age of 15 had to be in school and not stuck out in the fields” (Diaz 85). This was her only hope, a sign from above, which, it would seem, all her relatives had to obey. The girl thanked Trujillo in the depths of her soul, still, due to her age, not understanding the features of his cruel regime. Junot Diaz talks about it with sympathy: “She’d only learn later how little our dictator protected her or anyone else” (85). Her innermost dream could come true thanks to the dictator, and she could not care about anything else; the cruelty of this person became her salvation.
Courage on the Way to a Dream
Nevertheless, family bonds were very strong, and the mother of Junot Diaz had to show stamina and courage. She had to take a risky step to avoid constant family control: “She got down on her knees beside a stagnant puddle of water, put her mouth in it, and drank deeply” (Diaz 85). After this act, she fell ill and stayed at home while the family went to work; she showed courage; demonstrated how much she was ready to put at stake to achieve her dream. Until that moment, her courage also did not know prohibitions and barriers. She withstood daily beatings: “Any time my mother was caught near the schoolhouse, my grandmother gave her a beating” (Diaz 85). Despite her fears, she found the strength to bear a dream, make plans, and later implement them at a convenient moment.
The society described by Junot Diaz was deeply prejudiced against women and prevented them from getting a basic education. In the case of the author’s mother, due to the political course, an accident gave her the freedom to study. However, despite the official opportunity established at the legislative level, she had to oppose her family by taking uncompromising and risky actions. To sum it up, Junot Diaz vividly portrays her mother as a combative woman who fought desperately for her dreams and future. This story shows how important determination and courage are in the struggle for what a person considers vital.
Diaz, Junot. “The Dreamer”, More, 2011, pp. 84-86.
Salusky, Ida, and Mary Tull. “Making It to the Finish Line: Educational Resilience Among Dominican Women of Haitian Descent.” Race Ethnicity and Education, 2021, pp. 1–19.
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