While the encounters with the creature may or may not have happened, their significance in the book still holds strong just like the superstitions, because "no matter what you believe, the fukú believes in you" (5). 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. "In my first draft, Samaná was actually Jarabacoa, but then my girl Leonie, resident expert in all things Domo, pointed out that there are no beaches in Jarabacoa. Rather than just provide factual background, Yunior's narrative continues in the footnotes just as it does in the body of the novel. 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". In having this character take on such a surreal nature with characteristics not found in most mongooses, such as the ability to talk and vanishing in the blink of an eye, Díaz establishes an uncertainty that mirrors the controversies over whether superstitions exist. Like the de Leon family, the mongoose is an immigrant, an invasive, non-native species. "[17], Oscar Wao also oscillates between English and Spanish. On the other hand, Isis potentially coming to Yunior to learn more about her uncle represents gaining an understanding of the past, which is key to decolonizing and pinpointing the structures that are systematically oppressive. Throughout the novel, violence is transmitted from the system of colonialism and dictators to the domestic sphere and perpetuated through the generations. 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. Don't be alarmed, dear readers; as the Domincan Republic's most feared dictator, Mr. Trujillo hovers over the entire novel. By actively disparaging the brutal dictator, Diaz breaks social and cultural norms about how common people function in a power hierarchy. Lola is sent to the DR to attend school and live with her great-aunt. They felt so strongly about this that Yunior, offering his own opinion, comments "I doubt anybody inside the family wanted her to live, either" (252). Oscar’s first experience with love is unhappy, setting the tone for every romantic relationship to follow in the novel. Chapter Summary for Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, part 2 preface summary. Ybon is kind to Oscar but rejects his frequent romantic overtures. His actions eventually resulted in Trujillo arranging for his arrest and eighteen-year sentence, where he was brutally beaten and treated to an endless series of electric shock treatments (237). [32], Even when talking about Oscar, Yunior does not focus on the fact that he is nerdy and does not hide it, but rather makes allusions to science fiction and fantasy works that Oscar would be familiar with. [64], Reexamining masculinity through Yunior and Oscar, Filling the blank pages – stories as "zafa" for the fukú of violence, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, 3rd ed., 2008, Thiem, Jon, "The Textualization of the Reader in Magical Realist Fiction" from, D'haen, Theo, "Magical realism and postmodernism: decentering privileged centers" from, Learn how and when to remove this template message, "Pulitzer winner stays true to Jersey roots", "Junot Díaz's Novel, 'Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,' Wins Pulitzer", "The Book Bench: This Week in Fiction: Questions for Junot Díaz", "New American short stories: The curse of machismo", "Junot Díaz reflects on love in his latest book", "Mortality Threats to Birds - Small Indian Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus)", "Dueling Masculinities: Oscar's and Yunior's Journey to Manhood", "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao declared 21st century's best novel so far", "The Best Fiction of the Millennium (So Far): An Introduction", "Best of the Millennium, Pros Versus Readers", "Pulitzer Prize-Winner Junot Díaz Writes the Book on Heartbreak (Video)", Audio recording of Junot Díaz reading from, The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter, Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Brief_Wondrous_Life_of_Oscar_Wao&oldid=991109881, Short description is different from Wikidata, Wikipedia articles with plot summary needing attention from February 2016, All Wikipedia articles with plot summary needing attention, Articles needing additional references from March 2015, All articles needing additional references, Wikipedia articles with WorldCat-VIAF identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 28 November 2020, at 09:08. 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. The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao Part 1, Introduction-Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis. As written in footnotes, the Mirabal sisters were murdered there, too. He supports the regime in order to keep his family safe, but runs out of luck when Trujillo decides he wants to seduce Abelard’s beautiful oldest daughter Jacquelyn. [29], Throughout the novel, Diaz uses metaphors and symbols to present Dominican history as well as the fuku curse. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. This symbolic relationship is heightened by the transient nature of the mongoose, disappearing as suddenly as it appears. Kind of like Sauron in The Lord of the Rings. Instant downloads of all 1389 LitChart PDFs To be a true witness to who we are as a people and to what has happened to us. His great fear is that he will die a virgin. It received highly positive reviews from critics, who praised Díaz's writing style and the multi-generational story. Yunior is given the power to represent Trujillo which lessens Trujillos dominance in the power scale, allowing the novel to have a strong stance against the dictatorship, stripping Trujillo of the meaning behind his title. The book chronicles the life of Oscar de León, an overweight Dominican boy growing up in Paterson, New Jersey, who is obsessed with science fiction and fantasy novels and with falling in love, as well as with the curse that has plagued his family for generations. 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. 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. So we think New Jersey is a perfect setting for Wao. Yunior attempts to reform Oscar in the image of the Dominican American “player,” but Oscar resists this transformation. Oscar pursues girls, but eventually retreats into science fiction, fantasy, and role-playing games. Many of the footnotes ultimately connect back to themes of coming to a new world (underscored through the novel's references to fantasy and sci-fi) or having one's own world completely changed. Chapter Summary for Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, part 1 chapter 2 summary. Beli understood how advantageous appearance is in the social situations of the Dominican Republic, but not until she had undergone major physical and psychological changes. A lot of the emotions and the atmosphere laid out in Oscar's canefield scene parallels Beli's. [40] In this section of the book Yunior says, "Canefields are no fucking joke, and even the cleverest of adults can get mazed in their endlessness, only to reappear months later as a cameo of bones". [56] In a poll of American literary critics organised by BBC Culture (the arts and culture section of the international BBC website) in 2015, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was voted the twenty-first century's best novel so far. The re/appearances of canefields in Oscar Wao are symbolic. 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. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and societal views on finding love. Near the end of the book Diáz comprehensively links the fantasy world of Middle-Earth with the world of the Dominican Republic and the novel. "[52] One of Díaz's frequent references to J. R. R. Tolkien comes when he describes Trujillo: "Homeboy dominated Santo Domingo like it was his very own private Mordor. VanBeest points out that in spite Oscar's lack of machismo, he possesses "other masculine traits that Yunior admires." Within hours of El Jefe dancing bien pegao with those twenty-seven bullets, his minions ran amok−fulfilling, as it were, his last will and vengeance. Yunior and his friends give Oscar the nickname “Oscar Wao” and tease him mercilessly. [59], A staged version of the novel, called Fukú Americanus, was adapted by Sean San Jose and co-directed by San Jose and Marc Bamuthi Joseph through San Jose's Campo Santo theatre company in 2009. "[45] Díaz has said that this question can be read as being directed at the reader, "because in some ways, depending on how you answer that question, it really decides whether you're Galactus or not. Explore a character analysis of Yunior, plot summary, and important quotes. As Trujillo never attempts to sleep with Jackie, the narrator and reader are left to wonder if at some level the motivation for this family ruin has to do with silencing a powerful voice. Furthermore, just as the singing mongoose leads Beli to safety, a singing voice leads Clives to Oscar. "[47] Díaz hints at possible latent abilities or qualities Oscar may possess that will reveal themselves or develop later in the novel. [62] Director Walter Salles and writer Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries) were hired by Rudin to adapt the novel. Brief phrases relating to games like Dungeons & Dragons and tabletop role-playing game terms are used as common colloquialisms: "He [Oscar] could have refused, could have made a saving throw against Torture, but instead he went with the flow."[20]. Interweaved throughout, Yunior also tries to explain and understand his own failed relationship with Oscar’s sister, Lola, and the Dominican heritage that binds them all together. 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