Critical Introduction

Each member of our group has analysed Junot Diaz’s, “Monstro,” in a different critical lens. These lenses introduced a unique approach to analyzing themes, characters, setting, structure and other elements of the short story. Each essay offers a unique and nuanced perspective of Diaz’s short story.


Kasper Herdt’s reader response essay takes a dive into Junot Diaz’s short story “Monstro,” connecting it to the real-world threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although released in 2012, well before the coronavirus pandemic swept the world, the grim and dry comparisons between a fictional zombie-plague presented in “Monstro” and the real-world virus are clear for any contemporary reader to see. Taking on issues of political response to crisis, and a stark class divide, the story pulls no punches when discussing the reality of a global pandemic. The force of ambivalence on the world at large, as well as the main protagonist, result in those with the least being harmed the most. Rampant climate change compounds this issue, making it clear that people who are not born into well-off families would face undeserved consequences. With these very real problems comes the analysis of real-world responses to our own pandemic, with quantifiable academic research to show that government responses have been lackluster at best, and negligent at worst.


The reality of the modern Western world has left former colonies in a circle of self-hatred. In this analysis of Junot Diaz’s short story “Monstro,” James Halma explores the masked intentions of foreign aid, the interested gaze of far-away audiences, and the purpose of race in Diaz’s Haitian earthquake-inspired short story.


This essay explores how “Monstro” is a deconstruction of both the zombie horror and apocalypse genres. By noticing the way “Monstro” is unlike popular depictions of zombies in media, Helen Neves explains how Junot Díaz has used deconstruction in his short story to change the genre to reflect modern fears surrounding sickness and the cause of the apocalypse. By discussing how the zombie is not a static creature, its relation to fears of marginalized people in “Monstro”, and the ways in which Díaz’s protagonist doesn’t fulfill the standard apocalypse narrative, this paper illustrates Díaz’s deconstructive intentions with his story.


Grace Hug takes on Diaz’s “Monstro” through a feminist lens. Before analyzing the actual text of “Monstro,” she speaks briefly about Diaz and what his audience can learn about his character through his actions. In July of 2018, Diaz was accused of sexual assault. Before the accusation, Diaz’s stories were seen as “sexist” and “misogynistic.” The combination of his reputation, as well as his writing, has led several individuals to believe Diaz is a misogynist. Grace provides evidence from Diaz’s “Monstro” to showcase his misogynistic approach to writing.


Eric Barboza gives his take on Diaz’s “Monstro ” through a New Criticism lens. Junot Diaz’s “Monstro” explores the complexities of identity, masculinity, and family dynamics through the lens and perspective of a Dominican-American boy growing up in New Jersey. Employing a variety of literary techniques, Diaz delves into themes of power, the body, and the fluidity of identity. This critical analysis, through a New Criticism lens, examines the narrative techniques Diaz uses to convey confusion and fluidity of identity within the story. “Monstro” serves to be an example of exploration of identity within the context of immigration and cultural hybridity. By analyzing this story through a New Criticism lens, this analysis illuminates the narrative techniques Diaz uses, revealing the profound layers of meaning embedded within the story. Through language, symbolism, and imagery, Diaz creates a powerful portrayal of the challenges faced by young immigrants as they navigate their dual identities.


Michael Shay’s paper “A Freudian Analysis of Monstro by Junot Díaz: Trauma and the Psyche” offers a comprehensive Freduian psychological analysis of “Monstro”. The paper delves into various aspects of Freudian theory, such as intellectualization and the Oedipus complex. The paper underscore the significance of considering Díaz’s personal experiences, including his childhood trauma and accusations of sexual assault, as these experiences may have influenced the story’s development and provide key insights into character understanding. This multidimensional approach, blending Freudian theory with the author’s personal experiences, yields a nuanced exploration of the psychological depths embedded in “Monstro”.

Each member of the group was required to examine, analyze and think about Junot Diaz’s “Monstro” through a different lens, therefore creating a major difference in perspective of the story for each of the writers. It is easy to say that, as each of us conducted our research, we learned something new that we may not have learned without being required to analyze the short story. We hope that others will understand the importance of diving deep into literature, to take it beyond the surface level. 


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Beginnings and Endings: A Critical Edition Copyright © 2021 by Liza Long is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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