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Junot Diaz, Diaz develops the story by using history, stereotypes, male dominance, and superstition to address how the Dominican society impacted the function of relationships. The Dominican Republic was a horrible and hostile place during the time period the novel was in. The dictator Trujillo controls the lives of the people in the country. This influenced the de Leon family’s present and future. Powerful contributions usually end up being negative connotations in society as a whole.
In The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, family, symbols and setting is strong aspect that influences the characters decisions and actions.
Oscar is the character who the book is focused on throughout the novel. His sister is Lola, who is also a part of the book to also get a closer view of the family. Beli is his mother, who is a feared and respected woman in their community.
The narrator and boyfriend of Lola is Yunior. He meets Oscar in college and lives with him.
La Inca is Beli’s mother, she was adopted at an early age and she cared for her throughout her youth. The Gangster is a man that Beli meets up with at an early age and falls in love with. He causes trouble in her life from her family and his own family that he never said he had but all of this distraught and anger is the reason why Beli is the way she is with her kids now. Lola and Oscar’s treatment ultimately is affected by the way Beli has had experience with.
Trujillo, the dictator, controls the Dominican Republic with a strong grip, and gets his way with everything. This is shown clearly because Trujillo and the fuku are interminable “No one knows whether Trujillo was the Curse’s servant or its master, its agent or its principal, but it was clear he and it had an understanding, that them two was tight (Diaz 2-3).” This exemplifies how people are obligated to follow Trujillo and not reject him, because if they were to try to go against Trujillo then they would meet a bitter end to the fuku. This is seen with Abelard and Trujillo with Abelard’s daughter.
Trujillo asked Abelard to bring his daughter to a party that he was attending and Abelard didn’t comply with Trujillo’s request (because Abelard didn’t want Trujillo to defile his daughter and have sex with her) and “Not four weeks after the party, Dr. Abelard Luis Cabral was arrested by the Secret Police. (Diaz 233)” This reveals how corrupt and unjust the system in the Dominican Republic was in this time period, and how the fuku (curse) would go into effect if you don’t abide by Trujillo’s “requests”. It’s clear that the society as a whole is broken due to this fact, and that the relationship that Trujillo has with the people of the Dominican people is based on fear and fear alone.
The main cause of this fear however isn’t directly from Trujillo but from the fuku itself. People even use the word “fuku” as a derogatory term at any inconvenient turn like getting a simple cold or getting your leg scraped, because of what the fuku symbolized in the Dominican Republic. This is because in the Dominican Republic, the fuku symbolizes as anything that’s bad in any way so people started to use it in their day-to-day lives. This shows how people subconsciously fear the fuku and wouldn’t dare to oppose the fuku and in turn Trujillo.
Another symbolic aspect of the book is the golden mongoose. The mongoose appears to both Beli and Oscar at critical times of their life when they are on the verge of death. Oscar is presented with the mongoose when he is contemplating suicide after Jenni Munoz breaks his heart. He is at the top of a train overpass and sees the mongoose. He jumps and lands on the median and lives. After Beli is discovered to having an affair The Gangster by his wife she is severely beaten in a cane field. His wife finds out she is pregnant and wants to have her and the baby killed. She is left for dead but the mongoose leads her out of the cane field and she lives.
Diaz says “The Mongoose has proven itself to be an enemy of kingly chariots, chains, and hierarchies. Believed to be an ally of Man. Many watchers suspect that the Mongoose arrived at our world from another, but to date no evidence of such a migration has been unearthed.”(Diaz 158) The Mongoose is seen as an animal of resilience. It traveled the world in order to survive and is seen as good. It helps man and challenges the evil of the world. When Beli and Oscar see him they are both surrounded by the evil of the world and being naive lead them there. The Mongoose is seen as the light of good in this time because for each of them it helps them to survive.
In the Dominican Republic, they value manliness over anything else when it comes to men. They see a man as only being a man if he possesses sexual prowess and a way with women. Oscar lacked in these aspects severely. He never had a way with women and especially never had sexual prowess. From the time he was a boy his uncle always tried to give him advice and make in him manlier. “It wasn’t just that he didn’t have no father to show him the masculine ropes, he simply lacked all aggressive and martial tendencies.” (Diaz 15)
This showed the lack of manliness he needed to make it in the Dominican Republic. He simply lacks the gusto needed for him to become a ladies man. Oscar was only into Genre and was not in any kind of physical shape. The opposite of Oscar was Yunior. Yunior possessed all of the qualities a typical Dominican man was supposed to have. He was a sexual deviant, physically fit, and always had more than one woman at a time. Yunior tried to help Oscar be more like him but he never took to working out and hated it. Oscar was never seen as a manly person and he constantly wore this on him but Oscar was content with himself. He never wanted to be a sexual deviant or cheat. He only wanted to find someone who accepted him and loved him for who he really was. Oscar only revealed he lost his virginity after he died. He left Yunior a letter telling him he lost it to Ybon when they went on vacation.
In The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Junot Diaz shows how the Dominican Republic influenced superstitions and the male dominance. In the end Oscar dies because of the love he spent his life searching for. He sees that he gained it but at the cost of his life. He expresses the happiness of love in the end right before he died. The rest of the family deals with the death of Oscar differently. Beli’s loses her will to fight and the cancer returns and she dies ten months later. Lola and Yunior’s relationship never restarts and both get married to other people and have children. People in the Republic were tainted in the way they thought and was the root of why the Republic operated the way it did. They only see each other occasionally and only speak of Oscar. The aspects of family, setting and symbols affect the character’s in make or break decisions.
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