In The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, the reader is led through the novel with a lot of uncertain thoughts and questions about the main characters, one in particular Oscar Wao. When I first started working on the assignment my topic was what and who is a real Dominican man? What characteristics does a true Dominican man have? Why isn’t Oscar like all the other Dominican Men? I found it strange that as I began to look through passages I was finding more of what the opposite of a real Dominican man was.
The narrator seemed to mostly use the main character Oscar Wao to show the good and bad in Dominican man. In the first chapter we see that progression of Oscar Wao from being a “typical” Dominican man to miserably failing the “so-called” characteristics and personality of a real Dominican Man.
My goal of this paper is to examine certain passages to get a clearer idea of what characters fall into Yunior’s placement of a real Dominican Man. It seems as though the narrator is defining a real Dominican Man as one that doesn’t really care about girls and takes advantage of them. Also it seems that many people use the words “typical” and “normal” to describe a true Dominican Man, I wonder if they mean a typical/normal man is one that has the perfect looks and so called perfect personality. But to me it seems as though the personality part is defined as being a jerk. I am going to do this by looking through passages and interpret what I believe the narrator is trying to convince the readers.
The first piece of evidence that I looked at comes from the very first chapter of the novel “The Golden Age”. This beginning of the chapter represents a time where Oscar fulfills the characteristics of a ‘typical” Dominican man in the eyes of everyone around him. The specific passage that I have found is on page thirteen where the narrator explains how, “ It truly was a Golden Age for Oscar, one that its apotheosis in the fall of his seventh year, when he had two little girlfriends at the same time, his first and only ménage a trios”(Diaz 13). I thought it was interesting because it seems that for once Oscar is categorized as a “normal” and “typical” Dominican man. Which is odd because he suddenly changes and never seems to go back to that “Golden Age” ever again. I chose this chapter in particular to analyze because it shows so many different transitions in Oscars life. He went from the “normal” and “typical” Dominican man to a complete social outcast. He went from the kid with all the girlfriends to the one watching from the back of the class. “His adolescent nerdliness vaporizing any iota of a chance he had for young love. Everybody else going through the terror and joy of their first crushes, their first dates, their first kisses while Oscar sat in the back of the class, behind his DM’s screen, and watched his adolescence stream by. Sucks to be left out of adolescence, sort of like getting locked in the closet on Venus when the sun appears for the first time in a hundred years”(Diaz 21).
This passage also comes from the beginning of the novel, where the narrator is showing how Oscar’s life changed so quickly. His adolescent is taking away from him at such an early age. It seems as though Yunior is describing Oscar as the one that got left behind in everything, mostly the “first” time things. I wonder to myself why Oscar does lose his adolescence at such an early age? Why does Oscar not get the chance to get his first kiss or first date just like all the other “normal” Dominican boys his age? However, in the next piece of evidence, I found something that helps me think differently. While reading through Chapter one of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Oscar changes drastically from the “Golden Age”. This next specific passage takes the reader back to represent when Oscar is now much older, a sophomore in high school and is soon realizing that he is not longer in his “Golden Age” but basically the complete opposite of what he is use to. I discovered a passage that explains Oscars life throughout high school, sophomore year in particular; “ Sophomore year Oscar found himself weighing in at a whopping 245 and it had become clear to everybody, especially his family, that he’s become the neighborhood pariguayo”(Diaz 19). When I first picked the topic I wanted to know who is a Dominican, but then when I began looking at passages and things I was finding the opposite of what a normal Dominican man is like.
Yunior was describing Oscar as a fat, hairy, nerdy boy whereas most of the “typical” Dominican man seemed to be described as the complete opposite of that. In this specific passage that I found the narrator does a good job in describing what most people look to as a “typical” Dominican Man. One question that comes to mind though is who are the “most people” in the novel? When I was playing around with this sentence I realized that the narrator uses the word “normal” and “typical” a lot to describe certain characters. The narrator also uses the Spanish term “parigyayo”, instead of using an English word such as “loser”. Readers may have thought of the passage differently if they had seen the word “loser” in there instead of “parigyayo”. I wonder to myself why the narrator uses the Spanish world “parigyayo” instead of just calling him a loser. It seems as though the narrator wanted to get his point across to the readers that Oscar was more than just a “loser” but a “parigyayo”. Not only is Oscar described as a typical loser but was specifically said to be the neighborhood loser. Concerning his weight, I think it is also interesting that the narrator seems to be a bit insensitive to Oscar and does not seem to really sympathize with him at all.
The third passage that I will be addressing is the narrator stating how Oscar would never be a normal kid even if he tried. I thought that this passage was interesting because it seems that the narrator is trying to get the point across that Oscar is just not like all the other Dominican Men The narrator says, “ Back when the rest of us were learning to play wallball and pitch quarters and drive our older brothers car and sneak dead soldiers from under our parents eyes, he was gorging himself on a steady stream of Lovecraft, Wells, Burroughs, Howard, Alexander, Herbert, Asimov, Boca, and Heinlein, and even the Old Ones who were already beginning to fade-moving hungrily from book to book, author to author, age to age”(Diaz 21). It seems as though while all the other kids were out doing “normal” kid things Oscar was always inside reading as many books as possible. I find it interesting that Yunior makes a big deal about Oscar always reading and writing where as Yunior is doing the same thing. He is writing this novel about Oscar and explaining how much of a nerd he is because of reading and writing so much. But doesn’t it seem that Yunior is doing the same thing?
This is where my question comes up to that really is a true Dominican man then? These certain passages seems to bring me back to my question, what and who is a real Dominican Man because it shows what a “normal” Dominican man does compared to what a “nerd” does, and it seems as though Oscar doesn’t fit in the norm of a Dominican man. The narrator describes Oscar as the one that is always sitting in his room reading or writing while all the other boys are outside doing crazy boy sorts of things. Throughout the novel it seems as though there are many things that just seem a bit off about Oscar such as, his looks, personality, and characteristics.
Throughout this whole process I have observed a lot about certain characters in the novel and how they relate to the description of a real Dominican Man. It seems as though the narrator has a difficult time in coming out and saying who is truly a Dominican Man. I feel as though there is times in the novel where the narrator does point of certain characteristics such as “normal” and “typical” man treating women so badly but thinking that is okay. Which oddly enough seems as though that is normal thing for Dominican men to do. The more I looked at different passages I observed a lot of what seemed to be the total opposite of a real Dominican Man. Oscar Wao in particular tends to seem not to be the ideal Dominican Man. Like I had said before it seems that the normal men take advantage of women where as Oscar Wao is the complete opposite of this and he feels as though he has fallen in love each time he meets a different girl. I wonder iI still question though some of the things that he is judged about, such as why is it so weird for him to read a lot? Is it possible that Oscar Wao may be a little different from others? I think that there is a possibility of him not being the true definition of a real Dominican Man. But why does this make him such a social outcast?
Díaz, Junot. The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead Books, 2007. Print.
Cite this A Real Dominican Man
A Real Dominican Man. (2016, Nov 05). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/a-real-dominican-man/