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Abelard remains in prison for the rest of his life. Díaz creates a distinct link between human beings' performative nature and the masks required to express it, and the masks worn by superheroes. Each time the mysterious animal appears in a time of dire need, the narrator includes a disclaimer on the accuracy in the visions of the creature. VanBeest argues that Oscar "succeeds in educating Yunior, indirectly, in the responsibilities of manhood; after Oscar's death, Yunior claims that it is Oscar's influence that encourages him to stop following the dictates of el machismo and finally settle down and get married." The beginning of chapter two also features the use of second person narration, rarely used in literature. These Beli and Oscar canefield scenes are haunted by the displacement and violence against enslaved Africans, the displacement and genocide of indigenous folks, and also the revolts and resistance to these systems. The situation worsens when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer and Lola decides to run away with her latest boyfriend. The many science fiction references throughout the novel and footnotes emphasize (Yunior believes) the fantastical elements of Dominican history. The book starts by introducing Yunior, the fictional author of Oscar Wao’s biography, and the curse that has shaped the events of Oscar’s life. Oscar recovers from the beating, borrows money from Yunior, and returns to the Dominican Republic. Likewise, there is a mention of being "flung into the macroverse" by "the ritual of Chud", a nod to the ending of It. He survives, and Yunior tries to help Lola pick up the pieces of her life, but mostly struggles to maintain the large network of girls he is sleeping with. A family curse, mysteriously missing manuscripts and one man’s love trials are the focus of the novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz. Despite their differences, Yunior and Oscar become important to each other and develop an unusual friendship. From there, the novel goes further back in time to describe the adolescence of Lola and Oscar’s mother, Beli. [33] Yunior also shows that he and Oscar were not so different after all, but the difference was in the fact that Oscar was not able to hide the fact that he was an outcast while Yunior was able to fit in while keeping his unique qualities and interests to himself.[33]. The arrival of his novel (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) in 2007 prompted a minor re-appraisal of Diaz's earlier work. The novel returns to Lola’s perspective, as she prepares to come back to the States from her year in Santo Domingo. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was widely praised and appeared in a number of "best of the year" book lists. Historically, the mongoose was imported from Asia during the 18th century. This is foreshadowing of the intimacy between Lola and Yunior yet to come. The three Cabral girls are split up and the older two die tragically young. In chapter two, Lola narrates her own story from the first person. The novel describes the history of relationships between dictators and journalists in terms of comic book rivalries as well: "Since before the infamous Caesar-Ovid war they've [dictators and writers] had beef. Because of this, Trujillo has an important role in the story, but is ultimately weakened due to the given perspective. [31] Furthermore, Yunior recounts the stories and history of a family that is not his own. Speculative fiction is a sub-category of fiction that deals with ideas that are not directly real, but rather imaginative or futuristic. The novel uses history to set the scene and create its social and political commentary. That's why I thought the book was somewhat hopeful at the end. [21] The reliance on Fukú, and its counterpart Zafa gives the novel a fantastical element which show magical realisms part in the plot, as the narrative follows the impact of the supernatural curse. This symbolic relationship is heightened by the transient nature of the mongoose, disappearing as suddenly as it appears. Díaz frequently uses references to works of science-fiction and fantasy. Oscar's infinite capacity for empathy and connection with other human beings is a superpower in its own right. When he examines his own body in the mirror he feels "straight out of a Daniel Clowes book. (including. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Summary The novel begins with the narrator's description of the curse, called fukú americanus—a curse of doom, specifically that of the New World. Twice in the novel the mantra "Fear is the mindkiller" is repeated. Díaz's use of Yunior as the main narrator of the book strengthens the idea of the novel as metafiction. By actively disparaging the brutal dictator, Diaz breaks social and cultural norms about how common people function in a power hierarchy. She gives all of her savings to the boy’s family and meets her mother at the airport. Ybon's boyfriend, a violent police captain, becomes jealous of Oscar and sends two goons who kidnap Oscar, take him to the sugarcane fields, and beat him into a coma. [11] While referencing historical figures, Yunior frequently includes the novel's fictional characters in the historical events. The novel’s plot is intricately bound up with the notion of Fukú Americanus, which is “generally a curse of doom of some kind; specifically, the Curse or Doom of the New World”. Struggling with distance learning? Trujillo is one scary dude. Lola is Oscar’s older sister, and her daughter serves as a symbol of the potential to break the fuku curse. Trujillo's appetite for ass was "insatiable" (217), pushing him to do unspeakable things. Although in the story her character does not know her own role, she must accept and embrace her Dominican culture to break the curse. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an aston-ishing vision of the contemporary American experience and The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao Part 1, Introduction-Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis. Abelard, by withholding his daughter's "off-the-hook looks" (216) from Trujillo, he was in effect committing "treason" (217). After recovering from her initial shock of the metamorphosis, she discovered how "her desirability was in its own way, Power" (94). [32] By reconstructing the De Leon family story, and not letting the characters speak for themselves, Yunior subconsciously follows the ‘Trujillan model of narration’, suppressing their own stories for his own mental gain whether it be a recreated connection to Lola, his ex-girlfriend or Oscar, his friend. With these new curves she was thrown into a world where she could get what she wanted, where she was given attention without having to ask for it. Sugar and canefields were so important to the Spanish as they fueled their wealth and the creation of a white elite, and thus plantation economy, in Hispaniola. Explore a character analysis of Yunior, plot summary, and important quotes. [23], In addition of the fantastical elements of the novel, Oscar Wao also includes a degree of political critique, in the discussion of the Trujillo dictatorship of the Dominican Republic, as well as a portrayal of metafiction, in Oscar’s own writing on fantasy novels. Narrated by multiple characters, the novel incorporates a significant amount of Spanglish and neologisms, as well as references to fantasy and science fiction books and films. [39] In the canefield, the mongoose talks to Oscar and saves him just as Beli was saved. [35] Furthermore, in a footnote, the mongoose is described as "an enemy of kingly charriots, chains, and hierarchies... an ally of Man",[36] suggesting the mongoose's importance in helping the de Leon family not just for their misfortune but also as a means of undermining Trujillo's oppression. The twentieth century’s one of the most disreputable dictators, Rafael Trujillo exercised absolute power over Dominican Republic like a feudal lord from February, 1930 until his assassination in May, 1961. After (unknowingly) becoming involved with Trujillo's sister's husband, The Gangster's men assault Beli there. [63] According to Díaz, Miramax's rights on the book have since expired. Oscar falls into a deep depression and attempts suicide on the last day of the school year. How di… Asking her not to abuse that power was akin to, as Díaz says it "asking the persecuted fat kid not to use his recently discovered mutant abilities" (94). When Oscar meets Ana, one of the many women with whom he falls in love, he notices different aspects of her life and "there was something in the seamlessness with which she switched between these aspects that convinced him that both were masks". What more fantasy than the Antilles? He even admits that as the one telling the story, he holds a certain amount of power. Trujillo's reign as revealed in the footnotes of the novel becomes just as dystopian as one of Oscar's favorite science fiction novels. "[43], Comic books, science-fiction, and fantasy literature all play an important role in Oscar's upbringing and identity, and each is incorporated into the novel to reflect the world he lives in. At the end of The Return of the King, Sauron's evil was taken by "a great wind" and neatly "blown away", with no lasting consequences to our heroes; but Trujillo was too powerful, too toxic a radiation to be dispelled so easily. Back in the 1990s again, Oscar has graduated college but moves back with his mother in Paterson and teaches high school English rather than achieving his dream of being a writer. Acknowledge its existence at a collective level. Lola calms him down, and Oscar decides to wait until college to find a new love. Both political critique and metafiction are typical features of Magical Realism.[24][25]. The novel then comes back to Oscar’s life, during his college years when Yunior himself enters the story. That peace is cruelly destroyed when the Capitán finds out that Oscar is back and shoots him in a canefield. The novel, that was written in 2007, is about Oscar and his family’s experiences. Rather than just provide factual background, Yunior's narrative continues in the footnotes just as it does in the body of the novel. Beli desired the same romantic experience as Oscar, despising school in her early years from being "completely alone" (83). Oscar may never get what he wants. "[49] Oscar's vast memory of comic books and Fantasy/Science-fiction is recalled whenever he is involved in the text, and his identity is multiform, composed of scraps of comic book marginalia. There is also a strong suggestion that the fantastical element of Oscar's life is a powerful method for him to relate to other people and to the world around him. Yunior and his friends give Oscar the nickname “Oscar Wao” and tease him mercilessly. Through Yunior and Oscar's friendship, Díaz critically examines Dominican machismo and shows how it can lead to violence and an inability to connect with others. He spends 27 days writing and stalking Ybon. One section is a first person narrative from the perspective of Oscar's sister, Lola, explaining her struggles to get along with their headstrong mother, Beli. Subsequent sections detail Beli's backstory growing up as an orphan in the Dominican Republic after her father was imprisoned and her mother and two sisters died. [29], Although Yunior is the narrator of the story, and everything that is said comes from his perspective, the story revolves around the unlikely hero, Oscar. Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers! [31] Because of the way that the story is narrated, the readers get a comprehensive view of the cultural factors that surround Oscar that ultimately lead to his tragic death. The curse itself is meant to be a defining factor of Dominican culture. In an interview with Edwidge Danticat, Junot Díaz comments: "For me, though, the real issue in the book is not whether or not one can vanquish the fukú—but whether or not one can even see it. As for Yunior, Oscar models an alternative form of masculinity and ultimately pushes him to reexamine his ideas about manhood. The basis of all of the problems that arise in this novel is the US-sponsored dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo that lasted for over thirty years. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Yunior decides to give the book to Lola’s daughter once she is old enough to wonder about her uncle and her own Dominican heritage. Oscar desperately wants to be successful with women but, from a young age, is unable to find love, largely because he is a nerd obsessed with science fiction and comic books. Lola’s strained relationship with her mother causes her to act out. Ybón’s biggest client, the Capitán, starts to take notice of how much time Oscar and Ybón spend together, and he threatens them with violence. In this way, zafa can be read as an undoing of colonialism because as fuku brings misery and bad luck, zafa has the potential to foil it and restore a more favorable balance. Oscar and Ybón finally spend one weekend together, where Oscar loses his virginity and finds true intimacy with her. New York magazine named it the Best Novel of the Year and Time magazine's Lev Grossman named it the best work of fiction published in 2007, praising it as "a massive, heaving, sparking tragicomedy". Instant downloads of all 1389 LitChart PDFs Yunior reminds the reader consistently that he is telling the story, as opposed to the story happening in its own right. The phrase originated in the Frank Herbert novel Dune and Oscar uses it to try and quell his own fear near the end of the story, to no avail. Beli, the mother of Oscar and Lola, was raised in the Dominican Republic by her foster-mother (La Inca), who expected great things of her. A lot of the emotions and the atmosphere laid out in Oscar's canefield scene parallels Beli's. Similarly, Oscar remembers a "Golden Mongoose" which appeared just before he throws himself from the bridge [38] and again when he is beaten in the canefield for the first time. Yunior and Oscar are character foils that illustrate two different types of masculinity: if Oscar's nerdiness, fatness and awkwardness make him the antithesis of Dominican hypermasculinity, then Yunior, as a Don Juan and a state school player who can "bench 340 pounds" (170), is the embodiment of that identity. Perhaps, Oscar isn’t the “knight in shining armor” we may like him to be, and his death might not be considered the most honorable, but he does portray characteristics of an Aristotelian tragic hero. As written in footnotes, the Mirabal sisters were murdered there, too. So he's important enough to put up front. Abelard Luis Cabral, Oscar's grandfather, learned this first hand after repeatedly refusing to bring his first-born daughter Jacquelyn to Trujillo's events. The power of appearance in the era of Trujillo can not be underestimated, as seen by its dangerous consequences in the de León family history. As she grows into a great and “terrible beauty,” boy-crazy Beli begins to catch the eye of the wrong type of men. The fantastical elements of the novel take place in both New Jersey and in the Dominican Republican, this establishes a real world setting for these events which blends the natural with the supernatural, another attribute of Magical Realism. Yunior describes Oscar’s childhood as a Dominican American boy in Paterson, New Jersey, and the struggles that Oscar faces as he fails to fit in with the Latino community or get a girlfriend. Thus, the empty pages in Yunior's dreams signify that the future has yet to be written despite the checkered past, in both his life and in the painful history of oppression and colonialism in the Dominican Republic. He too is affected by the fuku curse that stems from a long history of oppression, and the only way for him to break free is to acknowledge his own culture while also adapting to his new surroundings in the United States. In 1937, for example, while the Friends of the Dominican Republic were perejiling Haitians and Haitian-Dominicans and Haitian-looking Dominicans to death, while genocide was, in fact, in the making, Abelard kept his head, eyes, and nose safely tucked into his books (let his wife take care of hiding his servants, didn't ask her nothing about it) and when survivors staggered into his surgery with unspeakable machete wounds, he fixed them up as best he could without making any comments as to the ghastliness of their wounds."[12]. The mongoose further stops a bus directly in front of her, preventing her from being hit and providing her transportation to safety. The canefields in the Dominican Republic are a space made significant through their history of slavery and violence—a racialized space. [14] He often gives his own commentary and analysis on the events he is relating in the story and sometimes reveals failings in his own life, both as a narrator and a person: "Players: never never never fuck with a bitch named Awilda. It might have been a consequence being Antillean (who more sci-fi than us?) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: Analysis Essay; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: Analysis Essay. This runs in parallel to several central themes of the novel regarding identity, as Yunior's code switching alludes to a struggle between his Dominican identity and his identity as a writer. The connection between a superstition and a magical character is more easily followed than one with an ordinary animal, highlighting the mongoose being a zafa against the de Leon's fukú. Diaz creates irony using this strong dictator as a minor character and focusing on the characters that would have otherwise been marginalized. 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