A society comprised of unacceptance and isolation will reveal the barbaric and savage behaviors of a pack of innocuous half-breeds. In the novel, We the Animals, Justin Torres displays the cruel consequences of societys racial and homophobic standards. These principles force the narrator in the novel to surrender his identity and alter himself into an individual that he believes mankind would accept. His differences and sexual desires cast him apart from everyone else, including his own family. In time, the narrator begins to struggle to maintain his fabricated identity, as he attempts to create an authentic one. This later becomes the cause of his downfall, for the more he attempts to conceal himself from society, the farther he gets from it.
The author, Justin Torres, creates an outcast in his protagonist, making his actions, likes, and qualities apart from the rest of his family. The youngest brother is smarter and more fearful than his brothers. In the book, it is said that Puerto Ricans like him have a language passed down from generations, similar to their inherited quality of violence. Like their father, his brothers respond to situations with brutality, but the youngest is not the same. His real identity lives in solitude, hiding in his avenue of escape, his journal. The narrators violence resides in his journal, hidden and unknown to others. He possesses a violence different from his brothers, one that originates in his head instead of his strength. It is his journal that betrays him in the end, as it later reveals his savagery and homosexuality to the world.
Due to his sexual orientation and unseen barbarism, the young boy is sent to a psychiatric ward, alienated from society. External and internal factors such as societys standards and the boys conflicts are what cause isolation. The narrator lives in a world where heterosexuality is the norm, and consequently, he begins to feel obligated to adapt to these rules. He struggles to conform to these customs, and he separates his true sexual identity from society to protect himself. This is shown when the boy is with his family. From a very young age, the child encounters many expectations, whether it is his mothers wishes for him to stay young or his brothers aspirations to be like their father. He is, however, unlike any of them. He is not brutal like his brothers, but he is educated and pretty, and instead of embracing his differences, he conceals them with his actions. He remains quiet in arguments with his brothers, and he follows their examples of violence. Nevertheless, as he ages, he realizes that he cannot hide from his desires. This unresolved conflict with himself becomes the internal factors that lead him to alienation. In his past, he is raised to believe that strength and masculinity represent acceptance, while weakness and abnormalities will only separate him from others. As he attempts to hide from his sexuality, he ends up losing his family and his sanity.
Individual vs. society is the central theme of the novel. The protagonist is caught in a battle of acceptance against the public, and, in the end, he fails. As said in the novel, although every man is granted rights, they still live powerless, unable to compete against a greater society. He is unable to fight for himself, and his actions become uncivilized. When the narrators family discovers his homosexuality, conflicts arise between them, destroying their once strong and robust bonds with one another. In the final chapters, the usual we dictation alters to they, symbolizing a complete separation within the characters. The estrangement and distance, therefore, transforms the once capable and bright human being into a vicious animal.