Longing for an Escape

“[Belicia], like her yet to be born daughter, would come to exhibit a particularly Jersey malaise—the inextinguishable longing for elsewheres.” (pg. 77)

Oscar is not the only Dominican longing for change and escape. Belicia, Oscar’s mother, and Lola, Oscar’s older sister, have a desire to be somewhere else. They don’t  know where they wan’t to go, but all they do know is that they don’t want to be in New Jersey. “Malaise” in Jersey implies that others might not want to be there as well. The family feels as if they don’t fit in with their community or society. The “inextinguishable” longing sounds as if the desire will never end, but will only live as a desire. Although characters like Lola escaped from places such as high school and her mother, it didn’t satisfy her need to be elsewhere. These temporary desires of jumping from one place to another was an attempt at filling the void in their lives. Lola knows that she wants meaning somewhere else, but for now, reacts by leaving her home and school. This comes back to one of the themes in the book. Oscar, the protagonist, is a fat nerd, which continues on with the stereotype of science fiction and awkwardness. He didn’t feel comfortable in school or as a Dominican. Dominicans are portrayed as sexy athletes with a way with the girls. Oscar definitely didn’t have a way with the girls. Oscar’s nerdy stereotype breaks barriers of culture, ethnicity, and society. As immigrants, Oscar, Lola, and Belicia either felt like they didn’t belong or weren’t accepted in New Jersey. There constant desire of escape, travel, and belonging poses a question on immigrants and Americans alike on stereotypes and acceptance: To an extent, don’t we all feel like we aren’t accepted?

One thought on “Longing for an Escape

  1. I definitely agree. It is important that we first acknowledge that the novel isn’t just entirely about Oscar and his lack of belonging, but that his family has similar feelings. It is very likely that Oscar’s mother, Lola and Beli feel such a lack of belonging as they do, because they are from a different cultural background and simply don’t feel as if they fit in with American culture and society. Considering that Oscar is already such an outsider, and vastly different from most other Dominican guys this only makes him feel even worse. You’re definitely right when you say that he’s no “sexy athlete” like the rest of the Dominicans.

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