Survivor narratives have always been popular in western culture. We are fascinated by the telling of disaster through the eyes of those that have experienced it first hand. Junot Díaz short story, “Monstro,” fits that mold nicely. There are many examples of books and films centered on the spread of disease. Contagion, 28 Days Later, I Am Legend, the topic is clearly a fascinating one. We wonder what happens to the bodies that undergo the transformation of affliction, and especially we care about the bodies that show immunity to weakness. “Monstro” provides a balanced sense of disaster and survival by juxtaposing the story of the main narrator with the unfolding of La Negrura.
This balance is well maintained throughout, until potentially the final moments of the parallel narratives. In particular, the final iconic photograph in the last pages may be the point of convergence in these stories.
“A set of soon-to-be-iconic Polaroids made it out on one clipper showing what later came to be called a Class 2 in the process of putting a slender broken girl in its mouth.”
It is left ambiguous as to whether this photo respresents the end of our narrator, Mysty, and Alex. Anything is possible in the creative mind of Junot Díaz. It is very interesting to contemplate that this might be the fate of the characters we got to know, but that is not clearlr foretold. What is clear, is the inscription left on the found photograph. “Numbers 11:18. Who shall give us flesh to eat?” My first thought was who possibly wrote that on a photo of a cannibalistic zombie? The bible section that that verse comes from describes the grievances of the Israelites after escaping Egypt. Starving and tired in the desert, there were questions as to the purpose of their struggles. The marginalized populations in “Monstro” undergo a similar process. Left to the mercy of fate, the afflicted likely question the reason to their suffering. Anyone could have written the bible verse on that photo, but what is it was the afflicted themselves? Perhaps in their last measure of human-like thought, they wanted the world to know that their suffering fell to the hands if those that abandoned them.