The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

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In the book, Junot Diaz tells a breathtaking tale about three generations of Dominicans. They had been forced to flee their own country into the United States as a result of civil unrest in their home country. Trujillo's dictatorship reigned supreme in the nation. The novel seeks to reveal the effect of Trujillo's tyranny, Spanish nationalism, and American imperialism on the de León family's lives. The novel formulates an alternate scenario among the people who are afraid of imperialism, colonization, and tyranny based on the events in the world. Diaz has successfully established a political connection between normative sexualities, the legacy of an enduring colonial past, Trujillo’s dictatorship, and the ties with the expansion of the imperialism in the United States. This paper aims to explore the conflict that exists between the insiders (Americans) and outsiders (Dominican-Americans) and understand how the article elicits recognition of cultural or social threats, in equities, prejudices, or stereotypes.

In the United States, the issues of immigration have become a common concern among the country's citizens, and leaders as the number of foreigners are increasing day-in-day-out. The immigrant population is thought to be comprised of individuals who share almost all characteristics. However, the group is vastly heterogeneous as people leave their home countries for their own specific and unique reasons. After arriving in the host countries, a significant number of the immigrants are overwhelmed with the joy of entering in a new environment. However, there are others who feel miserable with their present surroundings. In the Dominican, Republican people were forced to move during the Trujillo Regime, and a majority of them moved to the U.S. as a way to run away from the reign of their dictator leader. Each character presents a complicated relationship with their home country. Among the immigrants, the older generation was satisfied with their shifting as they had experienced horrible events and they fully understood the situations they were escaping from. However, the younger generation was not happy with their new land as they had left their best childhood memories in their country of origin. In addition, they had not experienced the dictatorship of the present regime over the country’s well-being.

Characters such as Beli had faced extreme torture and abuse throughout her life while in the Dominican Republic, and she was forced to leave the country with a scare on her back. On the other hand, her daughter Lola, had not had the same experiences and she knew the country as a place where she could go and escape the hell she considered her life was facing in America. As the young generation, Lola knew her native land as a place where she could find peace as they remained unaware of the traumatic history that had altered the lives of their parents and forced them to the United States. The experiences that Beli had faced in the Dominican Republic led her into an abusive cycle with her children which can be linked to the dictatorship of Trujillo who had silenced the whole nation. The writer of the novel has a Dominican background, and he understood what was happening in his country as he had experienced it first hand and in his own country. The story depicts the diversity of experiences that the Dominican immigrants faced in the United States and the diversity of their feelings towards their home country.

The novel's structure directly addresses the diversity issues through stories that are told by a different member of an immigrant family. The story has a narrator who states that one of the main protagonists in the novel, Oscar, has a different experience from that of his mother and sister (Diaz, p.23). The author uses this immigrant family to represent the various personalities and as a representation of the Dominican immigrants in the United States. The author successfully presents a wide range of emotions and characters to the reader in order to express the idea that immigrants have a unique life experience that can be compared but not to be considered the same, despite them previously sharing a common environment. Diaz has also detailed the history of the dictator regime and discusses both the social and political repercussions of the dictatorship. The narrator helps the reader understand the diversity of feelings that the Dominicans have towards the dictator depending on their gender and social class. The author writes the novel employing several different voices that are contradicting to bring out the message that the Dominican people cannot be forced to operate as a single unit. The novel comes out strong challenging the authoritarian and uses the narrative structure to explore the topic in a multidimensional way that creates the opportunity to discuss different issues regarding immigration and the lives of immigrants.

Yunior, the narrator, gives a perfect definition through which a reader is able to understand both the Dominican history and the United States popular culture. According to Yunior, the two cultures are intertwined, and although the characters residing in the U.S. are separated from their country of origin physically, they are still firmly connected. Characters such as Belicia, La Inca, and Abelard play an essential role in the novel as they operate their lives within the regime of the dictator, Trujillo, and they are involved in the system either sexually, romantically, or physically. Oscar is also seen to be included in the personal life of a member of the Policia Nacional which is part of the state, and thus he is symbolically involved with the Trujillo's regime just as his mother and grandfather were involved. Therefore, the country played a role in the lives of these characters through political control as well as supernatural influence.

The Outsider

In the novel, Oscar is classified as an outsider because of his unique physical appearance and his intelligence. He is considered an immigrant in both the host country and his own country as he no longer lives in his country and still not part of the new nation. Belicia a matriarch helps bridge the gap that exists between the United States and the Dominican Republic but her generation is impacted by the movement to a new country. Lola, Oscar, and Belicia are seeking to understand their background and their origin. The Dominican also valued sex as a critical feature for all males. They characterized the male gender as one with charm and power, sexually active, physically attractive, and sometimes violent. Oscar as an outsider lacks a strong sexually attraction as expected by his culture and he seeks the help of a woman to return his affection. In addition, he lacks the desire and ability to fight and to commit violence of any nature which is also a listed expectation among the Dominicans. Oscar’s lack of these important definitions for the male gender and without the necessary masculinity, he fails to achieve his desires of finding requited love until the end of the novel. On the other hand, a young man Yunior is the perfect definition of the masculinity according to the outsiders as he is sexually active and muscular. Yunior is presented as always sleeping with more than one woman at any given time. Another male, Tîo Rudolfo, represents another perfect form of masculinity that lacks in Oscar. Both Rudolfo and Yunior make attempts to help their fellow immigrant Oscar to become more sexually active and how to attract more women. However, he fails to adhere to these pointers and does not satisfy the Dominican culture.

The narrative structure and the writing style employed in the novel are essential in the weaving of a narrative of various immigrant feelings and experiences. In addition, the inclusion of the history of the immigration is impactful towards accomplishing the emotions. The novel can be classified as a tale of immigration, the story of Oscar, and a novel about writing and its power to shape and construct an alternative reality. In any dictatorship regime, there is usually one chain of command that is the voice to be heard. In the Dominican culture, Trujillo had the main view, and Diaz manages to create an extended metaphor between the expectations of immigrant experiences and the influence of the dictatorship.

Works Cited

Díaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. London: Faber and Faber, 2012. Print.

October 20, 2022
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