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One of the most peculiar aspects about the relationship between men and women is that, despite being commonly referred to as the representatives of a ‘weaker sex’, women often prove themselves capable of coercing men to act in one way or another. In its turn, this can be explained by the fact that, as opposed to what it happened to be the case with men, who turn sexual from time to time, women never cease remaining 100% sexual beings, for whom sex represents nothing short of the most effective instrument of self-actualization.
As Weininger noted: “The female is always sexual, the male is sexual only intermittently. The sexual instinct is always active in woman, whilst in man it is at rest from time to time… A woman has not her sexuality limited to periods of time, nor to localized organs” (72).
In this paper, I will explore the validity of the above-stated at length, in regards to the novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, because there are indeed a number of reasons to refer to the novel’s description of some of the featured female-characters, as such that correlates perfectly well with Weininger’s suggestion, in this respect.
One of the novel’s most notable female-characters, in the sense of how it portrays the very essence of female sexuality, is Belicia. The reason for this is quite apparent – Belicia’s very physical appearance implies that her individually could not be discussed outside of what appears to have been the character’s ‘talent’ in creating a strongly defined sexual tension, while in public: “(Belicia’s) breasts are immensities. One of the wonders of the world.
The only ones… that are bigger are in nudie magazines or on really fat ladies. They’re 35 triple-Ds and the aureoles are as big as saucers” (Diaz 19). Throughout the course of her teenage years, Belicia used to contemplate the possibility of attaining a social prominence by the mean of pursuing a professional career in nursing. This is the reason why, after having bumped into Jack Pujols for the first time (and consequently developed an amorous feeling for him), Belicia thought that it would not take too long for Jack to notice her, as well.
After all, while at the private school in Bani, Belicia was considered an exemplary student, which in turn implied that her prospects in life were rather bright. Nevertheless, it was namely at the age of fourteen (when Belicia reached puberty) that she started to attract Jack’s attention.
The reason for this is that at this age, Belicia undergone a metamorphosis into nothing short of an adult woman (in the physical sense of this word), whose looks emanated the aura of a sexual seductiveness. Consequently, this has led Belicia to conclude that her worth, as a female, was directly linked to how she looked on the ‘outside’.
After having come up with this conclusion, Belicia realized that it would prove thoroughly justified, on her part, to decide to have sex with Jack. After all, such her decision was indeed fully consistent with what she began to suspect represents a woman’s ‘true calling’ in life – to take advantage of the fact that sexually aroused men can be easily manipulated with.
This suggestion explains the symbolical significance the fact that, while describing the scene of Belicia and Jack being caught while having sex, the author indirectly referred to a floor-mopping broom: “Acting on an anonymous tip from a member of the student body, surprised the undercover couple in flagrante delicto in a broom closet” (Diaz 33). Apparently, Diaz wanted to emphasize that there was the quality of a ‘which’ to the character of Belicia.
The reason for this is that, as it can be well read between the novel’s lines, Belicia was quite capable of causing men to cease acting rationally – solely by the mean of exposing them to the sight of her bodily curves. However, it would be wrong to think that Belicia used to act in such a manner, simply for the sake of having fun – by rendering men ‘powerless’ (in the sense of making them ‘slaves’ to their penises), she was growing progressively more empowered.
In this respect, a certain parallel can be drawn between the character of Belicia, and the characters of vampires in the 19th century’s British literature. After all, just as it happened to be the case with these characters, Belicia used to go about trying to realize her existential potential by the mean of sucking the ‘life juices’ out of others, in the allegorical sense of this word.
The rationale behind this suggestion can well serve the fact that, during the process of ejaculation, men indeed become utterly powerless, which in turn allows us to compare the bloodsucking vampires with the ‘sperm-draining’ of character Belicia.
Therefore, there is nothing odd about the fact that, as the novel implies, Belicia would never consider the possibility of acting in a somewhat ‘asexual’ manner: “Telling Beli not to flaunt those curves would have been like asking the persecuted fat kid not to use his recently discovered mutant abilities… Our girl ran into the future that her new body represented” (Diaz 31).
Apparently, the atmosphere of a sexual tension that Belicia knew how to trigger, within the matter of a second, after having walked into the company of men, was nothing less of the character’s actual ‘habitat’. Just as fish cannot not live out of water, Belicia could not live out of sex. The reason for this is quite apparent – in the novel, this character is being referred to as the actual embodiment of ‘female virtuousness’ – the notion synonymous to the discursively constructed notion of ‘wild sex’.
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This is exactly the reason why, despite the fact the Gangster never considered himself to be in love with Belicia, he nevertheless could not help experiencing the sensation of an overwhelming sexual attraction towards her: “What he (the Gangster) wanted was to suck Beli’s enormous breasts, to fuck her pussy until it was a mango-juice swamp” (Diaz 39). Apparently, having been a ‘macho man’, the Gangster was naturally drawn to Belicia, as a woman who in his eyes was personifying the very notion of womanhood.
Essentially the same (although inverted) can be said about how Belicia used to feel towards the Gangster – despite the fact that the latter would never hesitate to abuse her physically. As Weininger pointed out: “The more femaleness a woman possesses the less will she understand a man, and the sexual characters of a man will have the greater influence on her” (52). It appears that Belicia and the Gangster could have indeed made a ‘perfect couple’.
What has been said earlier helps us to gain an in-depth insight into the significance of Yunior’s suggestion that, in order to be considered truly Dominican, Oscar should not have any reservations against using violence, when it comes to ensuring the sexual submissiveness of a woman: “Listen, palomo: you have to grab a muchacha, y metéselo. That will take care of everything. Start with a fea. Coje that fea y metéselo!” (Diaz 11).
Even though, when assessed from a moral perspective, this suggestion cannot be considered even slightly appropriate (as it subtly implies that there is nothing wrong with rape), it nevertheless is thoroughly logical. The reason for this is that, even though women most definitely do not enjoy being treated violently/aggressively, they do derive a pleasure out of knowing that it is specifically the men’s exposure to their ‘female power’, which results in these men beginning to act irrationally.
This explains why in Latin American countries, many women believe that there is a positive link between their husbands’ tendency to indulge in the physically abusive behavior, on one hand, and the strength of these men’s marital commitment, on the other.
Another character, the presence in which in the novel enlightens readers even further on the essence of female sexuality, is Belicia’s daughter Lola. The reason for this is that, as Lola’s behavioral patterns imply, the very nature of women being 100% sexual presupposes the situation that only a few of them are capable of appreciating freedom, as ‘thing in itself’.
The validity of this statement can be shown, in regards to the fact that the examination of Lola’s rebelliousness reveals that it can be well seen as yet additional indication of the concerned character’s mental inadequateness: “She (Lola) shaved her head down to the bone, Sinead-style, and now everybody, including their mother, was convinced she’d turned into a lesbian” (Diaz 15).
Apparently, even though Lola did believe that she was naturally inclined to act in the intellectually open-minded manner, this was far from having been the actual case. The reason for this is that the earlier mentioned rebelliousness, on this character’s part, extrapolated her unconscious anxiety about not being physically attractive enough: “You (Lola) have only the slightest hint of breast; from most angles you’re flat as a board” (Diaz 19).
Therefore, we can well speculate that, during the course of her formative years, Lola continued to experience the mentally damaging sensation of a cognitive dissonance between her deep-seated desire to attain self-actualization through marriage, on one hand, and her rational realization that she simply did not have what it takes to be able to succeed, in this respect.
This explains Lola’s ‘unruliness’, as a young woman – due to having been exposed to the earlier mentioned cognitive dissonance, she could not help growing ever more psychologically unstable. Such our suggestion correlates perfectly well with Weininger’s idea that: “A woman does not value herself by the constancy and freedom of her personality… (she) can only value herself at the rate of the man who has fixed his choice on her; if it is only through her husband or lover that she can attain to a value in her innermost nature” (123).
Nevertheless, it would be wrong to think that attaining the state of ‘oneness’ with a man she could love, represented Lola’s foremost objective in life. The rationale behind this suggestion is that, as the novel’s consequential chapters reveal, she tended to regard her own sexuality, as the tool of taking advantage of the incoming life-opportunities.
For example, Lola did not experience any reservations against working as a prostitute, during the course of her first stay in Santo Domingo, which in turn allowed this character to enjoy a certain financial freedom, while in the Dominican Republic: “Every morning I would wake up and make sure the money was still under my bed.
Two thousand dollars in those days could have taken you anywhere” (Diaz 64). At the same time, however, Lola continued to aspire for something greater in life, while often succumbing to depression, on the account of what she considered the indications of the world’s sheer ‘wickedness’.
This observation, on our part, is thoroughly consistent with the suggestion that mentally unstable females (due to having failed at becoming the ‘women of substance’, in the traditional sense of this world), are simultaneously predisposed to act as ‘saints’ and ‘whores’ – hence, the phenomenon of many men failing to predict the reactions of their girlfriends and wives to the externally induced stimuli (Lombroso 183).
Partially, this phenomenon can be explained by the fact, as opposed to what it happened to be the case with male sexuality, female sexuality appears ‘engraved’ in the very workings of a woman’s mind. This is exactly the reason why many women do not seem to have any reservations, whatsoever, against discussing even the most explicit sexual matters with one another. Moreover, they also seem to be at ease, when it comes to taking their clothes off, during the course of the process, in order to prove a ‘point’.
As Weininger noted: “Women dress and undress in the presence of one another with the greatest freedom, whilst men try to avoid similar circumstances” (138). For example, Belicia did not think that there was anything inappropriate about asking Lola to examine her breasts by touching them. The reason for this is that, whereas, men go about releasing the sexual tension from within in the ‘eruptive’ manner, women do it in the way that requires their whole bodies to be used to as the conduits of sex for a continuous period of time.
This is exactly why women become easily aroused, as a result of having their hands touched (something that we see happening throughout the novel’s entirety) – the very laws of nature predetermined the situation when a woman’s body functions as one big sexual organ. The above-stated also explains why female sexuality is being traditionally referred to as the metaphysical ground, out of which a woman’s sense of self-identity actually derives.
I believe that the deployed line of argumentation, in regards to what should be considered the discursive significance of how Diaz’s novel tackles the issue of female sexuality, is fully consistent with the paper’s initial thesis.
Apparently, there is indeed a good reason to believe that the very specifics of women’s physiological constitution cause their sense of sexuality to be qualitatively different from that of men. It is specifically the fact that The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao promotes this idea with apparent frankness, which helped the discussed novel to achieve the status of a critically acclaimed literary piece.
Diaz, Junot 2007, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Web.
Lombroso, Cesare. The Female Offender. Charleston: Nabu Press, 2010. Print.
Weininger, Otto 1906, Sex & Character. Web.