Lola’s simple and brief moment in life

“You changed too. Not right away, but it happens. And it’s in that bathroom where it all begins. Where you begin (page 54).”

In chapter two of The Brief  Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, it switches from Oscar narrating to his sister, Lola, narrating. Lola is older and the complete opposite of Oscar. She is tough, athletic, and rebellious. She challenges her mother’s teaching by arguing with her mother and running away from home. Her life choice was sparked by the realization of how her life will eventually end up like her mothers’. She was called to the bathroom by her mother so her mother can show her physically the tumor on her breast. When Lola felt the tumor, she realizes that she doesn’t want to live a life like her mothers’. Once she realizes what she that she says: ” You changed too. Not right away but it happens” which means that this moment changed her view on how her life should be. She might not have done anything about it until later on, which is why she said the change wasn’t “right away”, but this simple and brief moment was life changing. This quote is an important quote as it explains why Lola is so different from her brother, and it also shows how small moments in life, can make a huge difference.


Questioning of Identity

“There was the initial euphoria of finding himself alone at college, free of everything, completely on his fucking own, and with it an optimism that here among these thousands of young people he would find someone like him. That, alas, didn’t happen. The white kids looked at his black skin and his afro and treated him with inhuman cheeriness. The kids of color, upon hearing him speak and seeing him move his body, shook their heads. You’re not Dominican.” (page 51)

This quote shows Oscars eagerness and excitement of going to college, envisioning acceptance but he is not accepted. He withholds optimism in hope of finding someone ‘like him’, which shows Oscar lacks a sense of relatablitity to those he was surrounded by.  Oscar sees Rutgers college as an escape of his reality in a sense. He is now on his own and ‘free of everything’, optimistic, yet at college is only further confined to the social prejudices that Dominican men are held to. At his college (Rutgers) the white kids, are far too nice, that it does not seem genuine to him. The students who are colored, do not accept Oscar to be “Dominican” enough, to their standards. His physical features identify him as Dominican but his language is anything but. His knowledge of books and fascination of Star Wars, furthered him from the ideal Dominican male. Oscar lacks the masculinity needed to be accepted into his own culture. Oscar in turn is torn between two worlds, and his identity is questioned.


Beli Cabral

When Oscar whimpered, Girls, Moms de León nearly exploded. Tú ta llorando por una muchacha? She hauled Oscar to his feet by his ear.

Mami, stop it, his sister cried, stop it!

She threw him to the floor. Dale un galletazo, she panted, then see if the little puta respects you. (Page 14)

In this quote we see Oscar crying to his mom about his girl issues. He was deciding which girlfriend he should keep, Olga or Maritza. Keep in mind he was only seven. Beli is not like your typical mom. “Tu ta llorando por una muchacha?” Beli is asking him why he’s crying over a girl. Instead of comforting him she kind of makes fun of him and puts him down. “Dale un galletzo, she panted, then see if the little puta respects you.” She tells him to hit her and then see if that little b*tch respects you. You would not expect a mother to tell her son to hit a girl, nor would you expect your mother to call someone a little b*tch. We also she that she is a little violent towards Oscar. She hauled him to his feet and she also threw him to there floor. All Oscar wanted was for his mother to comfort him and help him out with his situation but instead she got angry and violent towards him. She wants Oscar to become a man and act the same way normal boys do. She also doesn’t want Oscar to be spending time writing fantasy fiction. Eventually, however, we find out a lot about Beli. We find out that she has been fighting breast cancer and is also working between two jobs.


Oscars struggle with masculinity

“Had none of the Higher Powers of your typical Dominican male, couldn’t have pulled a girl if his life depended on it. Couldn’t play sports for shit, or dominoes, was beyond uncoordinated, threw a ball like a girl. Had no knack for music or business or dance, no hustle, no rap, no G. And most damning of all: no looks.”  pg(137)

This quote sets quite a precedent for how Oscar is treated throughout the rest of the book. This is due to the fact that all of these qualities that Oscar seams to lack are expected to be seen in a Dominican male. The quote also puts are very large emphasis on the fact that Oscar is not good looking which signifies that this is on of the most important things that he lacks and it is a quality that is sought after in Dominican society.

Throughout the rest of the passage Oscars features are described in a way to explain why he does not get many girls and is considered a “party watcher”. The author uses his physical description as a way to describe why he had committed to being a nerd.He even emphasizes the fact that his few friends called his glasses ant pussy devices which serves to tell you that Oscar did not fit in with the norm of Dominican society. Oscar being somewhat of an outcast made this commitment to nerd culture and his love of books and comics that much easier because he was not really leaving much of a social life behind in his pursuit of the things he loved. The author goes on to describe very specifically what kind of a nerd he is which means that this was one of the more important parts of Oscars life. Overall his lack of acceptance into the Dominican image of masculinity lead him to pursue nerd culture and seek another world in which he could escape.



Unrequited love

“With Manny around, he was exposed to an entirely side of Ana. All they talked about now. the little they saw each other, was Manny and the terrible things he did to her. Manny smacked her, Manny kicked her, Manny called her a fat twat, Manny cheated on her.” P.44

This quote in the book really illustrated the reality of this twisted love triangle. On one hand you have Oscar who is in love with Ana Obregón and would treat her well. However, Ana has a boyfriend, Manny, who is abusive and treats Ana very poorly. Ana sees Manny come back from the army and quickly goes back to him. Manny disrespects Ana by calling her names, cheating on her, and physically abusing her. Oscar advises her to break up with Manny, Ana claims that she knows she should, but she really loves Manny. Ana talks about her sex life with Oscar and other things about Manny which Oscar probably hates hearing about. This quote tells us all the bad things that Manny has done to Ana, all those actions are basically domestic abuse, and for some reason Ana continues to be with Manny. Looking at the relationship from an outside perspective, Ana really should leave Manny since he is treating her so badly, but if we think about it from Ana’s perspective, love can be a really influential force for someone. Even if Manny isn’t treating Ana well, she still loves him and she can’t get herself to leave him even if she is suffering. Because of this, Oscar has to suffer as well since he is clearly in love with Ana yet she decides to stay with a boyfriend who abuses her.


The Truth and The Misconception of Love

“All my life I’d been swearing that one day I would just disappear. And one day I did.” -Lola (page 61)

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao finally takes a different point of view in chapter two as Lola takes control of the book rather than Oscar.  The chapter starts off by Lola portraying a scenario for the reader in which the reader’s mother has breast cancer.  From this portrayal,  it seems there is a sense of sympathy Lola has for her mother when she does describe this scenario.  Although this notion of sympathy proves to be wrong as she later runs away from her mother because she is tired of her controlling figure in her household, proving that Lola actually had no sorrow feeling for her mother from the beginning.  This leaves the reader in confusion because up till that moment in the book, Lola never tells anyone that she is having thoughts of running away, rather the only basis the reader has for Lola’s departure is her arguments with her mother regarding her own “punk girl” appearance. She says to herself that she would be gone from her home one day right before she fled her house and as soon as she did, she provides a story for the reader involving her and her mother’s argument at the dinner table.  The argument can thus cause speculation to say that this was the last straw for Lola, and that for her to be finally free from her mother meant that she had to leave her even though she had breast cancer. Indeed the beginning of the chapter leads the reader to a misconception making him/her think that Lola is hurting because of her mother’s sickness, but rather the reader truly finds out what Lola feels for her mother as her feelings are filled with nothing but bad thoughts.


High School’s Mob Mentality

“For Oscar, high school was the equivalent of a medieval spectacle, like being put in the stocks and forced to endure the peltings and outrages of a mob of deranged half-wits, an experience from which he supposed he should have emerged a better person, but that’s not really what happened” (pg 137)

In “The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao”  by Junot Diaz the character of Oscar is shown under a different light. High school is supposed to be a life-changing experience for people, it’s a place where people get a chance to emerge and it’s a transition from teenager to young adult. For Oscar, high school wasn’t what it was supposed to be, Oscar felt out of place and never really fit in anywhere. As a nerdy Dominican boy in an all Catholic High-School, he had a different view of High-School then his peers. Oscar felt as if everyone there acted like zombies and that everyone was the same. He could see that there was a clear mob mentality, everyone wanted to be cool and fit in but Oscar just enjoyed doing the things he liked like reading comic books. While everyone was trying to fit into the social norms Oscar realized that the most important thing was being an individual.

Junot Diaz realizes that many people feel like a social outcast in high school and don’t really know how to fit in and that some even feel like they’re wrong for not trying to fit in. By  portraying Oscar as a nerd who is comfortable under his own skin he is sending a message to the youth that everyone is unique. The lesson of being a leader instead of a follower is also very important and plays a pivotal role in the portrayal of Oscar. He is able to point out the mob mentality of many of his peers and uses it in order to embrace his individualism.


Maritza and Oscar

“And the lovely Maritza Chacon?… Well, before you could say Oh Mighty Isis, Maritza blew up into the flyest guapa in Paterson, one of the Queens of New Peru.” (18)

Here, we can see quite a drastic difference between Maritza and Oscar’s early adolescence. As a result of their “break-up”, Oscar was very hurt. He gained weight, and a developed a face full of acne. This turned him from a ladies’ man into someone who was either ignored by his female peers or downright insulted, his previous reputation was no more. However, as this was happening Maritza had the opposite reaction. Diaz describes her as a very beautiful girl, who had such a nice body that men two to three times her age took interest in her and she had only been in the sixth grade when this started happening. Oscar very often saw Maritza engaging in promiscious behavior from a very young age, and he saw it often considering that they were neighbors and all he had to do was look out of his window. Being able to see her with other guys all the time and with such ease could’ve easily been the cause for Oscar continuing to stay as undesirable as he was. By seeing something that mad him so sad, it probably made it even more difficult for him to get over her, resulting in his sadness to continue to get the best of him. Despite the fact that the two had once been romantically involved (standing next to each other at the bus stop, hand holding and cheek kissing) with each other at such a young age, they both grew up and matured very differently with Oscar becoming a loser and Maritza becoming the “Queen of New Peru”.


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?


The Epiphany

“Right there he had an epiphany that echoed through his fat self. He realized his fucked-up comic-book-reading, role-playing-game-loving, no-sports-playing friends ere embarrassed by him.” (29)

In The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz we are introduced to our “hero” of the story Oscar Wao. Oscar is a typical over weight nerd who has a really rough time in high school, specifically with getting a girl friend. After his two closest friends Al and Miggs score some new girl friends our boy Oscar comes to a grand epiphany or realization. This realization is that his friends are embarrassed of him. Now under normal circumstances it would make sense for his friends to be embarrassed of a person like Oscar, but since Al and Miggs enjoy the same nerdy material and things as Oscar this comes a a huge shock to him. You can tell in this quote how upset this realization probably made him, saying his “fucked-up comic-book-reading, role-playing-game-loving, no sports-playing friends” were embarrassed of Oscar after doing the same stuff as him.

This is a big moment for Oscar because i feel its pretty telling for the rest of his life unless he makes drastic change. His own nerdy friends are better off then him and embarrassed of him. I think this is going to mean something for Oscars future self, inspire him to be better, or a personal idea is that Oscar could end up later being the one who is better off then his friends in some way. I guess we will just have to see in the rest of the novel if Oscar will be able to over come his nerdy habits and disappointments.