Junot Díaz: Aguantando & Watching Spider Man in Santo Domingo

Historical Context

U.S. Intervention & Dominican Migration, New Jersey’s Afro-Latino Suburbs

Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed DrownThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award.  A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.



“Aguantando” (Holding on)

Part I

.Why, Yunior, the narrator, says that for the first nine years of his life, he knew his father only through photographs? Expand.

.In page 70, the narrator says, “We Were Poor.” What details in the story allow the readers to understand the family socioeconomic situation?

.What do we know about the mother and the abuelo?

Part II

.What usually happened if the mother run out of money?

.Why do you think the food is relevant in the relationship between Yunior and Tía Miranda?

.What Yunior learns about his father at Tía Miranda’s house?

Part III

.What elements allow us to make a picture of Yunior as a kid?

.How every family member reacts to the narrator’s dad letter?

Part IV

.What happened the first time the father wrote that he was coming back to take the family to the US?

Part V

.Describe the family “day off.”

.Why do you think the mother decided for one?

Part VI

.Both Rafa and Yunior imagine the arrival of their father, how they project his returning?


“Watching Spider-Man in Santo Domingo”

Watching Spider-Man- J. Díaz


After reading the story “Watching Spider-Man in Santo Domingo,” explain the following sentence from the text:

“The diasporic imagination really is its own superpower.”


Structure of a Research Essay


In the introduction present the text you will be analyzing, your research question and your thesis or argument.

Body Paragraphs

The main purpose of a body paragraph is to give in detail the examples that support your main idea, supporting details or examples of the piece you are examining. Use your sources wisely not as fillers.


The conclusion paragraph restates the main idea and summarizes your analysis. The final element should be a “personal statement” that gives the reader an indication of your worldview and your take on the issues or ideas presented.

Other tips:

.Use transition words. Connect paragraphs.

Be concise if you need to summarize a text. A research paper it is not a plot summary. Only refer to the segments related to your argument.

.Offer some context: describe the scene/the theme/ stanza/ verse, etc.

.Use quotes correctly. Name your sources. Make sure you are following the MLA citation guidelines.

.Check spelling and grammar.

.Read the essay before submitting it.

.Check if it has a good flow. Think of it as a whole.



Comments 25

  • Describe an experience you had in which your previous expectations did not match the reality encountered.

    • An experience that I encountered when I was younger was when coming to America. I always figured everything would be more simple and easier for me and my family. Many have this image of everything being luxurious in the United States of America until you come here and you start failing school because you’ve missed some days of school. When in the Dominican Republic if you show up some days and give in all homework and pass all tests, that is all it would take to pass that grade. Although the variety of the food expanded the love for it being made became less due to the fact that our parents were working overtime hours to spend their whole paycheck on the bills. Always thought that one would have more friends, but in reality everybody was living their own life and not worried about you.

  • In 2012, I came to United States for the first time just to study English. In my mind, studying abroad would be enough to come back to my home country and make a better income. Even though I had a lot of accounting experience, but not studied for it, when I came back I was surprised. I spent almost one year in another country to improve another language. On the interviews that I would apply, the employers would say that having a bachelor’s degree in accounting was a must. By the age of 24 years old, with more than five years of experience in the field, the employers were not satisfied.

    After four months I ended up working for a luxury travel agency in a new department were I could learn something new and would speak English daily. Even though, the opportunity was amazing the wage was still almost the same before traveling.

    My previous expectations of investing in that exchange were not matched when I thought about job opportunities. However, it made me realize that I needed to come back to college and graduate. It also was a life changing which introduced me new friends, and challenged me to new roads.

  • It is a great question because, at the moment, when our expectations don’t match the reality we learn a lesson – lesson to not build a prejudice and expectations because often, that’s the main reason of our unhappiness.
    To be close to the topics we discussed in the class, I will share my story briefly. At age of 18, I moved to the United States and my expectations were too high. I thought of the US as I saw it in the Hollywood films. Even though I knew how hard the immigration can be I chose to look at it through pink glasses. I met the difficulties that made me go back to my country after a year and a half. But after living there for one more year, I decided to take a challenge and try one more time. After my comeback, I met same difficulties as before but it didn’t stop me because I had my goal and I overcame my prejudices. The immigration is tough, but I thank God I went through it; it made me strong and resistant to life changes.

  • The experience that haunts my expectations the most is 911. The reality everyone encountered did not add up. The advance knowledge from high level government officials The collapse of the twin towers and 7 World trade center were the result of controlled demolition rather than structural failure. We know now that this was to justify the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. Even though we know Iraq was not involved in the attack.

    America wanted Iraq’s oil and to run a natural gas pipe line through Afghanistan. I guess know one would expect them to kill so many people. WE KNOW BETTER NOW!

  • This is my first semester in school after a long gap. I thought I would be able to balance working full time and also being a full time student, getting good grades to get into the nursing program with straight As, however reality hit and I have come to realize I either have to give up some hours at work or school. So I decided to give up some hours at work to be able to get better grades.
    This is how my expectations of myself to balance work and school didn’t match the reality.

  • Moving back to New York to finish up high school, I had certain expectations of the school experience in Queens. Although I was attending a public school in Queens, it was still a specialized school. Having been removed from the NYC school system for 6+ years, I had a very biased opinion on what a “specialized school” in NYC looked like. I was expecting a nice building, with a huge cafeteria, auditorium, sports facility and really hard-working, intelligent students; after all this was a specialized school.

    To my surprise, the school was essentially a 4 story knitting factory that was converted into a school by the man who owned it. There was one “cafe-gym-etorium” as we called it. Additionally, the students were an incredibly diverse group of 55 kids in my graduating class from diverse cultural and intellectual backgrounds, highly atypical of a generally specialized school in NYC, or so I thought.

    It turns out, that these initial stereotypes I created about these kids proved to be false in their own right, as these kids all had insane abilities that impressed me outside the classroom.

  • Back then, when I use to attend Q.C.C., I majored into an undergrad program for childhood education. At that time, I had no idea what to pursue in my life. My academic advisor thought I was suitable to work with children, only because I love kids. One day, I got an interview for an afterschool program. The manager whom interviewed me only wanted to hire a candidate who was in pursuit of education. She thought it was best for me to try it out for two days because she saw potential in me. Also, I wasn’t the last candidate for hire, there was other potential people who wanted to get this position. I given it a try but after the second day, I just couldn’t do it no longer. Not that I give up easily but my best interests wasn’t in the field of education. I have a lot of respect for teachers and professors who work with children, teens and adults because it takes a lot of patience. I had temporarily left school to find out my passion or goal in life. After years of deciding, I finally knew that I wanted to pursue in the medical field. I just hope I get my degree and license into R.N. and perhaps if I wanted to further my education to become a N.P. In my opinion, it’s good to go through an experience just to see what your outcome will result even if it wasn’t what you expected. It will be a lesson learned on your part.

  • By watching an American movies I always had an imagination of the USA’s police as of something powerful and always ready to protect you. Those pink eyeglasses fell off my naive face just right when I was in a situation when a very drunk woman drove her car on a sidewalk where me and my friend were standing and almost didn’t kill us. Luckily she just hit a fence and badly damaged her car. Long story short: the police was called 4 times , we even saw where that woman lived, which was around the corner from the accident place. Police arrived after 2 hours and announced that there’s nothing they could do about, even though we had videos and there were cameras from a building, also her crashed car was parked not far from there.

  • There was a time I quit my job because I was seeking a raise. My former employer was not able to produce a feasible compromise, this made me feel obligated to explore my options. I began my job search, I researched my prospects and was extremely selective to ensure what I assumed would be my “dream” job. Then, it happened I was contacted by a reputable company with an offer for 8K more than I was making at the moment.

    The first week was wonderful; the red carpet was rolled out. But,over the next several weeks the true company culture would prevail. The rules were strict and heavily enforced for minor infractions; even during the training period. I needed to escape! Opposed to my last job when I allowed myself to search leisurely for my ideal match. I abruptly resigned while on lunch, feeling confident about my future.

  • I grew up watching teen movies about college and how there are parties going on everyday somewhere on campus. I assumed that the rules and regulations in college would not be adhered to and that everyone would be “living it up”. Then I took a middle school trip to an actual college campus and found out that college life really isn’t like that 24/7. People are going about their business and working on furthering their education. In no way are people making scenes in the hallways or bursting out into song. It is a more professional environment. That was one of the many times in my life where I had to face the reality of a situation as opposed to the fantasy that has been painted out.

  • In 2014 I graduated from medical assistant. I thought I will have a better salary. However, my expectation was wrong because most of the medical assistants get paid unfairly. the medical assistant requirements and responsibilities are a lot to get paid very little.

  • In 2006, my family and I decided to move to upstate New York. Running from the fast-paced lifestyle we all live by living in the city. Not thinking of the challenges we were going to face, we tried to stay positive. One thing is that by this move it was a lesson learned, that no matter where we want to move in this world there is always going to be pros and cons. Our living experience consisted of a very backdated small town with little resources. In addition, there was a lot of drug use, which did not make us feel safe on raising our girls. Although it had its flaws it can be beneficial in other ways for someone that is trying to go to college or to build experiences on a career without having all the distractions that we encounter in the city. If you asked me if I would do this all over again? My answer would be of course. I would not change one thing.The reason I feel this way is because during this change of location my family was brought closer together, before experiencing some of my family members passing away. The memories I have will always be treasured in my heart. Everything in life has its purpose whether it is for the good or for us to learn by teaching us a hard but valuable lesson.

  • An experience I had in which my previous expectations did not match the reality I encountered was an interview I went on. I got to my interview on time and waited for about 40 mins. Finally I was called into the office and asked to sit. The interviewer ask for a copy of my resume and said She did not like her staff members to be late or call out sick.
    She then told me that I would hear from soon.
    I expected to be in that interview for about 30-45 mins. I also expected to be asked questions like What can you off our company. I really didn’t think i got that job.
    However they called me the following week. Im there now 13 years!!

  • When I was in high school there were courses offered from a college that was considered pretty great. When they talked about the courses they made it sound really interesting and worth trying so I decided to sign up because it seemed like they could be helpful in life for the future. The class professor honestly wasn’t helpful and the class itself wasn’t helpful at all. It was a waste of time and money. Also it made me realize I would never want to study about public policy again. To this day I still haven’t used the information from that class in any way.

  • The group commented on different types of disjunctions between expectations and reality. Although every experience is unique, they could be grouped into the following categories:

    .education (curriculum; facilities; diversity and environment; linguistics)

    .job market (interviews; specializations; salaries; responsibilities; environment and culture)

    .urban life (enjoyment and stress; safety; housing; mental, physical and social health)

    .immigration (immigrant shock; assimilation; identity)

    .politics/ historical crossroads (lack of transparency; military-industrial-complex)

  • Expectations don’t always meet reality. This isn’t always a bad thing. The most striking example of this in my life was the realization that after coming to the US I found out that it’s okay to not agree with the president. It’s okay to not like him and say so out loud.I realized that whole streets aren’t shut down every time the president drives through so he can enjoy a quick commute free of ordinary people. That people have inviolable rights that protect them and prevent absolute power being bestowed upon one person.

  • This is a great question to me, this is not because of personal experience because I was born in the United States, but because of what I saw. My cousin from Bangladesh moved to the United States for their first time, they used to tell me stories of how people treat them different.Also job were hard to get because they could speak good English but my mom got them job. It was very different from Bangladesh so they had to adopt to it and thats also something hard to do.

  • Wow, this is a vast topic for I can imagine in our lives, we have all experienced more than one reality awakening … as I like to call it.

    One experience I had in which reality did not match my previous expectations was when I came to the United States and got an awakening. I had in my little mind a country with happy people, beautiful buildings and sweet smells everywhere. Little did I know living in the US is very stressful and though things can be great, everyone is always rushing to and fro trying to get things done. The vast culture that exists is beyond anything I have ever experienced before. The equality and privileges meted out is not and will never be granted anywhere else. I am still learning/adjusting!

  • For the purpose of study, I came to USA from my native country and I imagined USA to be one of the beautiful country from every aspect. However, my imaginations did not meet the reality. There are problems of traffic, it is not clean in every corner of New York. Similarly, homeless people and beggar are increasing day by day though it is one of the richest and developed country in the world.

  • A personal experience I have in which my expectations don’t not match my reality is renting my own place. Trying to be independent is harder than I thought, there is always bills to pay. Rent and utilities taking more than 50% of my income is not something that brings me joy at the end of the month. But I am thankful I have a job that helps me provide my son a descent place to live.

  • A personal experience I have in which my expectations don’t not match my reality was when i joined a small music group when i was 14 because they talked a big game about traveling and performing and we got to do anything like that. i was extremely disappointed because being so young and running away from problems that was the only thing that mattered to me.

  • I am currently going through an experience where the expectation is not the same as reality. I’ve re-enrolled into LaGuardia in Fall 2017 in hopes to finish my associates, while still working full time and being a single mom. Prior re-enrollment I thought I had a plan figured out that would help things go smoothly but that has not been the case. I don’t have the option to cut my hours at work and sometimes childcare hasn’t been available. Now that my plan seems to be failing I need to figure out what will be the best decision for me.

  • An experience for me was when I was starting college, even though while I was in high school people around constantly said college would be different. Despite everyone saying this, I didn’t believe what they said. I thought college would be like the way you see in the movies. With many friends, parties, midnight classes and even students who would miss many classes yet pass the class. Once I started college here in the city, I quickly realized that college was completely different from the ways I had always pictured it. Everyone would keep to themselves, no parties and with classes you have to show up or else you will no pass the class.

  • The first time I went back to my country of birth, Sao Tome & Principe, awhile back, I had OK expectations. But one of those expectations was that I was going to see tall buildings and experience a dense city like New York City. When I arrived there with the family, we went to the part of town where it was actually the capital city. A pretty lively place. The difference was that my expectations were too high. The city was more like a slightly more dense Staten Island than Manhattan, which I guess wasn’t bad either. I still enjoyed the vacation no less.

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