Quotations and Responses
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1. To paraphrase Professor Keith Nurse, masculinism is an ideology which is produced by its social context while simultaneously affecting the stability of that social context in order to further reproduce the ideal conditions for its continuation. The consequence of this ideology is that, like gender or race—with its accompanying notions of "color" or whiteness—men are not simply born, they are made (Riofrio 24).
I completely agree that masculinism is dependent on the social context and can influence the society, either positively or negatively, where it is accepted. In the nowadays world, masculinism predominates in many societies; although, there are some societies where it is not considered to be dominant, for instance, in some African or Amazonian tribes. I think that, in order to become a man, a person should be brought up and treated accordingly by the society where he was born.
2. Two constants, however, in the manifestation of masculinity in Latin America remain: the first is the persistent centrality of sexual conquest in notions of real masculinity; the second is the fact that as an identity, masculinity remains a label affixed to men by men, what Nurse describes as manhood "affirmed through homosocial enactment and male validation" (Riofrio 25).
The understanding of masculinity and its particular features differ in the various cultures and societies. The given two constants of masculinity are accepted in Latin America, but there can be other constants in some other parts of the world. It is worth mentioning that archetypes and stereotypes lie in the essence of masculinity.
3. This simple exchange reveals an important detail about Dominican life: the poverty which plagues the island has created a situation in which survival depends upon fathers leaving the island to try and carve out a better life for themselves and their families. Yunior and Ysrael's conversation functions as the grainy snapshot of an entire generation of Dominican boys forced to grow up without fathers. The absence of the father figure and the perpetual reality of abandonment which accompanies this absence oblige the generation of fatherless boys to construct their own vision of masculinity based, not only on the island's remaining men, but also the hollow remains of what the fathers have left behind (Riofrio 26).
The problem of immigration in the search of a better life has been faced and experienced by many nations for many thousand years. On the one hand, people usually leave their families in order to help them; but on the other hand, they ruin their family relations and established codes of their societies. Many reasons lead to the irreversible consequences that can influence the life and development of the next generations.
4. For the fatherless generation, the emblem of masculinity, witnessed through the blurring haze of cigar smoke, becomes the juvenile hope of somehow, someday, being "man enough" to fill the empty uniforms in the closet. Like toddlers inserting dainty feet into father's oversized shoes, the absent masculinity of the immigrant father is a tall order to fill (Riofrio 27).
In the analyzed story, two brothers are the members of the so called fatherless generation. The father is not with them, but they know their father and have some things left from him. As a result, the absence of the father leads to the absence of masculinity, but what could be said about a boy-child who does not know his father at all? For instance, his mother does not want a boy-child to know something about his father due to some reasons. Thus, there will be observed no masculinity at all.
5. In the case of the two brothers, Rafa and Yunior, the absence of their father compounds the fact that masculinity is already a slippery, shifting terrain. In their case, the process of redefinition is sparked by a dramatic shift in their understanding of how to go about acquiring the trappings of men. The result is that it is their peers and not their fathers who will be responsible for teaching them how to be men (Riofrio 27).
In nowadays world, the absence of fathers can be observed in many societies. There are different reasons of this absence, and the absence connected with the immigration to another country in order to get a job and help the family is one of them. In this very case, children do not feel their father’s influence and do not follow his example as he is not physically with them. They have to follow other examples and models or try to find their own way that usually turns out to be a failure.
6. For Fuller, the true source of male anxiety rests in its very fragility, the fact that masculinity can be lost, or worse, taken away (Riofrio 29).
If a man loses his masculinity, it will influence his life very drastically. His emotional state usually becomes unstable and can lead to different disorders. In case, when a man is taken away his masculinity by another person, it turns into a real tragedy. Such men become psychos or try to commit suicide.
7. Empathy, by virtue of its association throughout the novel with the feminine, thus becomes a marker of weakness and a dangerous vulnerability, a vulnerability described with startling clarity in the opening story "Ysrael" (Riofrio 29).
I believe that empathy should not only be associated with the feminine. It can be felt not only by women but by men as well. It is not a marker of weakness but just one of many emotional states that people can feel during their life.
8. In the imaginative world of the immigrant, success is inevitable for one armed as Papi with "two hands and a heart as strong as an ox" (167); poverty is the fate of those who do not leave (Riofrio 31-32).
In my opinion, success is a combination of different factors and is not only dependent on the physical state of a person. We know many examples when people have got everything by chance. For instance, they have won a lot of money in a lottery or found some treasures, just out of the blue. Of course, there are many people who have reached their goals having worked hard for many years, but there are those people who have got nothing in this life. I consider that the life is a rather unpredictable and complicated notion, and sometimes it is difficult to judge whether a person has won or lost.
9. Diaz's Dominican characters do not benefit, as the first Cubans did, from refugee status; instead they groan under the dual pressures of assimilation: they are expected, as Jo-Jo does, to embody the American way, but also to fulfill a common notion of what it means to be "Latino" (Riofrio 32).
I think that it is not right that all persons who come from Mexico, Cuba, or the Dominican Republic to the USA should be treated in the same way, simply as Latinos. They are all unique and differ from one another in their cultural, political, social, economic, and individual characteristics. By all means, they have a common aim to get to America and find a better life, but the ways of reaching their goals can be different.
10. With assimilation come emotional distance and a renewed sense of masculinity which ultimately enables a very specific kind of selective reconstruction of the Dominican Republic (Riofrio 33).
When people come to another country or society, they will face the problem of assimilation. In order to get something what they want, they have to accept the rules and codes that function in this country or society. They begin to lose their own unique features that are not valued or accepted in the country where they are living now. They can become fully or partially assimilated, and a result, they can lose emotional as well as spiritual ties with their nation and families.
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