A Real Dominican Man

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The novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, presents uncertain thoughts and questions about the main characters, particularly Oscar Wao. Beginning with the initial assignment on the topic of a true Dominican man and their characteristics, it becomes apparent that the opposite of such a man is depicted in the passages examined. Through the narrator’s portrayal of Oscar Wao, both positive and negative aspects of Dominican men are explored. This is evident in the first chapter as Oscar Wao transitions from fitting the stereotypical Dominican man to ultimately failing to embody the supposed traits and personality of a real Dominican man.

In this paper, I aim to analyze specific excerpts in order to gain a clearer understanding of the characters that fit Yunior’s portrayal of a genuine Dominican Man. It appears that the narrator characterizes a real Dominican Man as someone who lacks concern for women and manipulates them. Additionally, it seems that many individuals use the terms “typical” and “normal” to define an authentic Dominican Man, and I wonder if these terms refer to someone with flawless looks and a supposedly ideal personality. However, it appears to me that the personality aspect is defined as being rude. To achieve this, I will examine the passages and interpret what I believe the narrator intends to convince the readers of.

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The initial evidence I examined is found in the first chapter of the novel “The Golden Age.” In this chapter, Oscar embodies the qualities of a stereotypical Dominican man, which is acknowledged by those around him. Specifically, on page thirteen, the narrator describes a significant moment in Oscar’s life during his seventh year when he had two girlfriends simultaneously, experiencing his first and only ménage à trois. This passage intrigued me because it depicts a time when Oscar is regarded as “normal” and representative of a typical Dominican man, even though he ultimately transitions away from this so-called “Golden Age.” I selected this chapter for analysis due to its portrayal of multiple shifts in Oscar’s life. He transitions from being perceived as a conventional Dominican man to becoming a social outcast. Moreover, he goes from being popular with many girlfriends to being an observer from the back of the classroom. As a result, his adolescent awkwardness prevents him from experiencing the excitement and turmoil of first crushes, dates, and kisses, while he remains seated at the back of the class, concealed behind his DM’s screen, silently witnessing his adolescent years slip away.According to Diaz (21), being excluded from the teenage experience feels terrible, similar to being trapped in a closet on Venus when the sun emerges after a century.

This passage explores how Oscar’s life dramatically changed in the beginning of the novel. His adolescence was taken away from him at a young age, leaving him feeling left behind, especially when it came to experiencing “first” time things. It raises questions about why Oscar lost his adolescence so early and why he didn’t have the opportunity to have his first kiss or first date like other Dominican boys his age. However, further evidence reveals a different perspective. In Chapter one of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Oscar goes through a drastic transformation from his “Golden Age”. This specific passage describes Oscar’s life during high school, particularly when he was a sophomore and realized that he was no longer in his “Golden Age” but instead faced the opposite of what he was accustomed to. One passage highlights his sophomore year, where he weighed 245 pounds and was considered the neighborhood pariguayo (Diaz 19). Initially, I wanted to learn about who a Dominican is, but as I delved into the passages, I discovered that Oscar’s experiences were the opposite of what is considered normal for a Dominican man.

In this passage, Yunior describes Oscar as a fat, hairy, nerdy boy, which is the opposite of what most people consider a “typical” Dominican man. The narrator frequently uses the terms “normal” and “typical” to describe certain characters, leading me to question who these “most people” are in the novel. Additionally, instead of using the English word “loser,” the narrator employs the Spanish term “parigyayo”. The use of this word may have influenced readers’ interpretation of the passage. It appears that the narrator wanted to convey that Oscar was more than just a “loser,” but a “parigyayo.” Oscar is not only described as a typical loser but also specifically recognized as the neighborhood loser. It is worth noting that the narrator seems unsympathetic and insensitive towards Oscar’s weight.

The third passage focuses on the narrator’s perspective on Oscar’s inability to be a normal kid. The narrator highlights Oscar’s distinctiveness from other Dominican men by mentioning his preference for literature over typical childhood activities. While other kids were engaged in playing games and getting into mischief, Oscar immersed himself in the works of various authors such as Lovecraft, Wells, Burroughs, Howard, Alexander, Herbert, Asimov, Boca, Heinlein, and even the Old Ones. This continuous reading habit shaped Oscar’s identity. It is interesting that the narrator, Yunior, emphasizes Oscar’s inclination towards reading and writing while simultaneously engaging in these activities himself by writing the novel about Oscar and portraying him as a nerd. Thus, there is a parallel between Yunior and Oscar in terms of their passion for literature and writing.

My inquiry is about the essence of a Dominican man. Some parts of the text prompt me to contemplate this query, as they emphasize the distinctions between a “regular” Dominican man and a “nerd,” suggesting that Oscar does not conform to the typical mold of a Dominican man. The narrator characterizes Oscar as someone who enjoys calm pastimes such as reading or writing, while the other boys partake in more daring endeavors. Throughout the book, Oscar’s physical appearance, personality, and qualities seem to deviate from what is considered normal.

Throughout the novel, I have noticed certain characters and their resemblance to the description of a real Dominican Man. The narrator, however, struggles to explicitly identify who truly embodies this identity. At times, the narrator hints at certain characteristics that define a “normal” or “typical” Dominican man who mistreats women without consequence. This behavior appears to be accepted as the norm for Dominican men. However, upon closer analysis of various passages, I noticed that some characters exhibit traits that contradict the idea of a real Dominican Man. Specifically, Oscar Wao seems to deviate from the idealized image. As mentioned before, while normal men manipulate women, Oscar Wao is quite the opposite, falling in love with each girl he meets. Nevertheless, I still question the judgments placed upon Oscar Wao, such as why it is considered weird for him to be an avid reader. Is it possible that Oscar Wao is different from others? Perhaps he does not fit the true definition of a real Dominican Man. Yet, I find myself pondering why this makes him such a societal outcast.

Work Cited

Díaz, Junot. The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead Books, 2007. Print.

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A Real Dominican Man. (2016, Nov 05). Retrieved from


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