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“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz Essay

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Updated: Oct 28th, 2021

Analyzing the “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz, it is necessary to review and describe such issues as the authority and power in the Dominican Republic’s history and how this history impacts the lives of Dominican – Americans in New Jersey. It is also important to regard such issues as the role of science fiction play in the given novel, the description of gender relations in this novel.

Previously, a couple of facts about the author of “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” should be pointed out. Junot Diaz has a unique multi-point- generational about the immigrant experience with one “nerd’s 1980’s coming – of – age story” (Diaz, 2007). For great scholarly measure, Diaz has contributed greatly in the description of Dominican Republic history.

“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’ is, actually, much larger on the inside hidden meaning than it is revealed to the reader on the outside.

The main hero of the first novel written by Junot Diaz is an overweight American man of Dominican origin. His name is Oscar, and he is a “ghetto nerd” (Diaz, 2007) from the city Paterson of New Jersey. Oscar is also shown as a fan of what he generally calls “the more speculative genres” (Diaz, 2007). He means comic and humorous books, science fiction, novels called “sword -and – sorcery”, playing games with roles – the pop – literary storage of some fantasies and myths that socially maladjusted and sexually disarrange and frustrated guys like him are generally believed to dwell.

In his book “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” Diaz, shows amazing high-low adroitness, showing his crazy credentials, his street experience, and wisdom, and also his literary learning with even panache. Significantly, the nickname of Oscar is pronounced in Spanglish (mixed Spanish and English languages) as “Oscar Wilde”, who resembled dressed up in the Doctor Who’s Halloween costume.

In this novel, Oscar wonders: “What more sci-fi than Santo Domingo? What more fantasy than the Antilles?” (Diaz, 2007). It may be stated that Diaz was concerned with the question, of how to take into consideration his ancestral homeland, including its politics, its folklore, its Diaspora that brought a lot of its dwellers to North of New Jersey and also to Upper Manhattan.

Referring to Diaz, the Dominican Republic, “which occupies the Spanish-speaking half of the island where Columbus made landfall” (Diaz, 2007), is a sort of little country which suffers greatly from an immoderation of history. From the start, it has been a raising base for offbeat destinies and monstrous passions.

This novel, written by Diaz, has a wild and roomy spirit, thus, it makes the reader feel much larger concern than it is. Although this novel has a relatively compact range, it includes a rebellious ensemble of genres and styles.

The theme of Oscar’s coming–of–age might be considered as the book’s finest layer. It is represented as a young-adult melodrama mixed with a chronicle of a multigenerational and immigrant family that “dabbles in tropical magic realism, punk -rock feminism, hip – hop machismo, post – postmodern pyrotechnics and enough polymorphous multiculturalism” to complete an introduction to the syllabus of cultural studies.

Combining all this with effectiveness, here is represented a certain voice that can be described as: temporal, lyrical, knowledgeable, and tireless, filled with a revolt of accents and idioms. These all are coexisting within just one personality. This voice belongs to Yunior, “who only gradually slides from behind the curtain of apparently omniscient narration to reveal himself as a character” (Diaz, 2007). Yunior is sometimes the roommate of Oscar at Rutgers; he is also the sometimes-boyfriend of Lola who is a sister of Oscar.

Yunior is Oscar’s opposite in every imaginable way. While Oscar promotes the pompous, thesaurus-fed manner of the fantasy-nerd self-taught: “I think she is orchidaceous” (Diaz, 2007), Yunior affects a bilingual “b – boy flow”, filled with bouts of didacticism.

It should be pointed out that Oscar falls crazily and greatly in love with a succession of not attainable women, Yunior might be seen as a “chronic womanizer”. Both Yunior and Oscar are aspiring writers, but Yunior’s preferred genres are what is called hard-boiled, “all robberies and drug deals and… BLAU! BLAU! BLAU!” (Diaz, 2007).

Yunior explains: “To say I’d never in my life met a Dominican like him would be to put it mildly” (Diaz, 2007). Here, by creating the character of Oscar, Diaz uses one stereotype to demolish another one. “Not all Dominican men are macho peacocks, and not all sci – fi, anime and Dungeons and Dragons fanatics are white boys” (Diaz, 2007). Although these may be regarded as an obvious point, it does not minimize the flair and skill with which Diaz brings it up.

The narration of the given novel is dynamic but switches from formally required diction to ghetto speech. For example, it changes between the speech of Oscar’s mother, who comes from respective Dominican Republic’s family, to the night scene which involves Yunior: “The year before Oscar fell, I suffered some nuttiness of my own; I got jumped as I was walking home from the Roxy. By this mess of New Brunswick townies. Here a bunch of … morenos. Two a.m., and I was on Joyce Kilmer for no good reason, alone and on foot. Why? Because I was hard, thought I’d have no problem walking through the thicket of young guns I saw on the corner. It was a big mistake. Remember the smile on this one dude’s face the rest of my … life. Only second to his high school ring, which plowed a nice furrow into my cheek (still got the scar). Wish I could say I went down swinging but these cats just laid me out” (Diaz, 2007).

There is a notion of a “Fuku”, which Diaz describes as “the great American doom – a curse brought to the New World by a certain Genoan explorer – the Admiral whose name should not be mentioned because to say his name aloud or even to hear it is to invite calamity on the heads of you and yours” (Diaz, 2007).

“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” novel tells about “fuku” “unleashed” in a certain way upon the family of Oscar two generations before “Oscar ever having seen his first Star Trek episode, read his first Marvel comic book” (Diaz, 2007). It dates back to the dictatorship of Trujillo, “the Dictatingest Dictator who ever Dictated, the man who was Mobutu before Mobutu was Mobutu” (Diaz, 2007), who caused the family of Oscar to leave the Dominican Republic in the 1940s. Here author traces the history of Oscar’s family from Trujillo’s rule in the 1940s in the Dominican Republic to Patterson’s rule in the 1980s in the United States in New Jersey of the years of Oscar’s youth.

“The Brief Wondrous Life” is a novel not only just about Oscar’s life story. He often seems sort of a bit of an imaginary exile in the novel name after him. The description of his friendships, his inauspicious romances, his suicide attempt, and his projects in literature is overshadowed by episodes of his family history. This history reveals the migratory way from the Dominican Republic to the United States.

It also concentrates on the women from the family of Oscar. His sister is a punk rocker, she is a runaway and track star. It is necessary to point out that she is in many ways a more bright, vivid, charismatic, and magnetic character than her brother Oscar.

Great attention in the novel is also paid to Oscar’s mother – Beli. Her remarkable and outstanding biography shapes the true narrative backbone of the novel. Beli was raised in the provincial Dominican city called Bani. There she was a dark-skinned beauty, also she was a scholarship girl at an expensive private school. Eventually, she became the lover of a famous criminal. It may be mentioned that her son’s painful and ruff, familiar passage into the life of an adult is set contrary to her age-related changes, shown in reverse.

At the first time, Beli is represented as an angry and borderline-abusive immigrant matriarch leader. She is fighting with her daughter. Beli is furiously wearing herself out with hard work and worry. Later on, Beli is shown as a revolting daughter in her own particular right, suffering, and fighting with La Inca. La Inca is her relative, the poor yet respectable person, in whose home she was raised.

Beli’s parents were a doctor and a nurse, as La Inca never stops reminding her, were from the class of the bourgeoisie who fell afoul of Rafael Trujillo regime. Rafael Trujillo was indeed a brutal Latin American dictator in the period of the middle 20th century.

But Diaz himself puts such notion in a footnote describing him: “At first glance, he was just your typical Latin American caudillo, but his power was terminal in ways that few historians or writers have ever truly captured or, I would argue, imagined. He was our Sauron, our Arawn, our Darkseid, our Once and Future Dictator” (Diaz, 2007).

It might be seen that for just this reason Rafael Trujillo was represented to be a real boon for Diaz, who “washes the cities and villages of his country in the 1940s and ’50s in a period ambience that’s violent as well as sensual and exotic. The island may be cursed and haunted, but it’s also enchanted; even the bitterest memories seem softened by nostalgia” (Diaz, 2007).

Thus, it can be pointed out that some spirits that are sometimes invoked with the view to explain the bad luck of Oscar’s families are also, for Diaz if not also for his characters, just lucky charms.

Oscar Wao’s significance is supported with the horrors and superstitious beliefs of his old country, certain tropical sweetness which inflects the prose of Diaz even at some moments of huge cruelty. It should be pointed out that without all these Oscar Wao would be just the same as some other crazy man with an Akira poster placed on the wall of his dorm – room and with a long chain of desperate, unfinished sexual obsessions.

There is a certain discrepancy between the circumstances and background of Oscar’s life. Diaz solves this problem violently and unconvincingly in the final section of his book -“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” It should be stated that here the reader can view a real subject of the given book.

Despite itself, it might be regarded as a novel of assimilation, a collapsed chronicle of the conflicting and inexorable movement of the immigrant’s children towards the layer of the American middle class. And there the terrible, also incredible stories of what grandparents and parents suffered and stand in their old country have become a manner in their own exact right.

Works Cited

Diaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead, 2007.

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