Junot Diaz, the author of Oscar Wao’s Wondrous Life Book, introduces the setting of the book in the United States and the Dominican Republic. In specific, the author analyzes the brutal regime control dominated by Trujillo, which exposes people to animosity and brutality. As a result, different characters in the novel are leaving their country to America. The author used an authoritative tone to elaborate on the leadership of Trojan. There is a degree of sarcasm and disdain in Ahmad’s expression, particularly when he points out that despite his tight leadership and dictatorship, most citizens in the Dominican Republic remained poor (Díaz, 3). This essay analyses The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao which includes the themes used, the environment and even the different writing styles applied within the short story.
The book is written in the second person with the main protagonist being Oscar and the narrator Yunior. Junot Diaz has used various themes to bring out the book’s concept. Some of the themes used within the book includes supernatural, power, gender and foreigners. Love as a theme comes out well. Almost all characters fall in love at some point, which then adds to their trouble (Díaz). Love in this story seems to be a blessing and at the same time, a curse. The characters in the book use love to get their way, albeit selfishly. For instance Belicia uses her beauty to seek love while Lola as a means of escaping (Díaz). The author uses imagery to illustrate the affection that exist especially Bella and Oscar’s father. In fact, Oscar is eventually killed for love and he earlier on writes a letter to Ybon recounting their sexual escapade as the best and the most enjoyable things he has ever had.
The stories within the story illustrate the power of love and the consequences that follow characters that seek to embrace love. For instance, Oscar, the main protagonist recounts of his numerous attempts to find a girl he could love, or rather agrees to have sex with him. Unfortunately, unlike the other kids, Oscar proved to be a nerd, and a fiction writer hence had little time for socialization (Díaz). At some point, Oscar attempt to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge after taking excessive liquor when a girl he loved dumps him.
Oscar also seems to lack the desire to improve himself, even when there are clear indications that his inability to get into a loving relationship is linked to his heavyweight. Yunior who is Lola’s boyfriend tries to convince him to lose weight and be more masculine, but he fails to see the reasoning behind that (Díaz). Indeed, Oscar is afraid that he would die a virgin and hence chooses to sleep with the next girl that he loves. Oscar is always a third wheel as the girls that he manages to get close to are mere friends as they are dating. Eventually, Oscar sleeps with Ybon, a prostitute who had hopelessly fallen in love with him, which gets him killed in a sugarcane plantation.
The story highlights the concept of poor and harsh leadership. Trujillo was a strict ruler of the Dominican Republic between 1930 and 1961 where he maintained a strict regime and could hence not encourage any opposition from anyone (Díaz). It is evident that a good leader aims at improving the condition of his countrymen and is fair with his decisions. Trujillo, however, demonstrates the opposite as he uses his power to maltreat his citizens and have his ways in all matters including the economy, sex, and even public opinion. In fact, the Dominican were prohibited from speaking ill of the president or going against his will. Unruly civilians would often be sentenced to long jail terms or executed as a way of punishment. In fact, people that attempted to compete against him during national elections were killed.
Although Trujillo had the necessary powers and the ability to transform the Dominican Republic, he failed to empower his countrymen economically and instead resulting in eliminating them (Díaz). Yunior also described Trujillo as selfish because he only desired to appoint his relatives, with little disregard for the thousand youths in his country. It is evident that when a country is governed by bad leaders, it loses out economically and the people are even left worse off after their leader dies. The repercussions of the poor leadership are well reflected by the number of individuals who flee Dominican in search of peace and better living conditions.
Trujillo sought for control in every aspect of his country including the number of ladies that he would forcefully have sex with. Yunior recounts how the dictator demanded to have sex with Jacqueline much to his father’s resistance. Jacquelyn was a beautiful Abelard’s daughter, and since Trujillo always had an appetite for beautiful young girls, he also could not resist her (Díaz). When Abelard fails to allow Jacqueline attend Trujillo’s party, he gets into trouble with him. Eventually, Trujillo demands to have Abelard, a successful doctor arrested for eighteen years for unclear reasons.
Gender and Foreigners
The concept of gender and foreigners also comes out strongly (Díaz). Most of the characters in the book are male further illustrating the chauvinism that existed during that error. The foreigners seem to have a challenge defining their present status in their country. Although Oscar, Lola and Belicia flee from their country, they feel lost on where they could regard as home (Díaz). The novel highlights the challenges that immigrants face through especially when they have escaped from their fighting country.
The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao offers an excellent narrative with a good description of the characters involved. By reading the novel, the reader is able to visualize the Dominican Republic and the atmosphere surrounding Trujillo’s harsh regime. There is a constant use of dialogue within the short story which creates the real picture. For instance, there is evidently some insincerity on Yunior. While Yunior masqueraded as Oscar’s friend, his primary intention is to win the love of Lola. Yunior realizes that the best way to get Lola to love him us having a close relationship with Oscar (Díaz). Following Yunior description of Oscar, the reader can view him as an unattractive fat man, who cannot manage even to get a girl to have sex with him.
There is also an apparent use of imagery within the novel. The author also visually describes a plight that Lola goes through after realizing that her mother, Belicia has breast cancer. There is a clear description of how Belicia calls Lola into her room to help her examine the lump on her large breast, which is later discovered to be cancerous. From the novel, it is evident that Belicia was a beautiful girl, with a sexual appeal, something that was enhanced by her big breasts. The cane fields are used to illustrate the hostility that existed in the regime. The cane fields are the cotton fields where slaves worked in and where mysterious things would happen. For instance, the narrator recounts how Ybon’s boyfriend; a soldier, roughed Oscar up for sleeping with her and takes him to the cane fields where he is beaten up and killed (Díaz). Belicia is also taken up to the cane fields after she confronts Trujillo’s sister for sleeping with her boyfriend. Indeed, the cane field instills horror on the mind of the reader especially when the author recounts of the various deaths that occur in the bushes.
The Wondrous life of Oscar Wao offers an excellent opportunity for literature students to enjoy a short story and understand the different literature devices that illustrate good writing. There is also a splendid discussion of history and the kind of leadership that was eminent during the slavery especially in the 19th century. The different styles used within the book make it an enjoyable read and which one can connect to real life situations. This book is applicable when it comes to learning the world history and understanding the various regimes that ruled especially in the 19th century.
Ahmad, Dohra. Rotten English: A Literary Anthology. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2007.
Díaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. London: Faber, 2009.