Character Analysis of the Character “Nilda” in Junot Diaz’s Nilda

Junot Diaz’s Nilda is a short story that centers on his recollection of his youth and the love triangle between him, his older brother Rafa and Nilda who is the titular character of the story. Through slangs, slurs and vivid description, Junot Diaz uses flashbacks to create a compelling story that revolves around Nilda.

Nilda’s character is critical in bringing out the despondency felt by the narrator at losing his brother to cancer and his girlfriend to his brother. Through Nilda, Diaz intricately shifts the focus away from his successes in life years later when he joins college. Nilda’s story and despondency helps the narrator to shift the focus from his achievements. Even when the narrator succeeds in the end, Nilda’s struggles and loss of hope take the sting away from his successes. The love he still has for Nilda overshadows his own successes. He becomes hopeless because of her predicament.

Nilda’s enthusiasm and hopefulness sharply contrasts with Rafa’s perception of life as he was suffering from cancer. Her dying boyfriend is tinkering on the edges of despondency. However, she has grand dreams about life: helping others like her by building a group shelter for runaway kids. Rafa is disinterested and in this moment Nilda accentuates Rafa’s depression. The narrator who overheard the conversation is convinced that it is a pipe dream as he remarks that “Listening to her imagining herself was about the saddest thing you ever heard.”(Diaz 148). The climax of the story justifies the narrator’s prophecy. After dating several men who beat her, Nilda has lost the one thing that attracted men to her: her beauty. She has gained weight and cut her hair short. The narrator remarks that “her moonface was heavy and alone” (Diaz 149). She has woken up from her pipe dream and is now living a despondent life.


Work Cited

Diaz, Junot. Nilda. n.d.