Teach and Delight in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
The book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz teaches and delights the reader. Diaz teaches Dominican culture by using dark humor while delighting the readers with Dominican history. The water is clear and blue, bright skies filled with white fluffy clouds, and the Spanish music blasting from the people sitting outside their houses. This is the Dominican Republic. But behind this beauty there is corruption, young girls getting raped, and a lot of blood involved behind each door. The reason for this is because of one of the most vicious dictators in history, Rafael Trujillo. After making a beautiful nation into something so horrendous Trujillo dies and the Dominican Republic is left in chaos. The impact that Trujillo had on the Dominican Republic is shown in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Trujillo was a ruthless man that used barbaric methods to make people do what he wanted and would do anything for power. Trujillo was known as “El jefe” (Pg.2) and not necessarily for a good reason. Even though he enforced the law and maintained crime to a minimum, he casted “a shadow of fear… throughout the region” (Pg. 224). In the beginning Diaz says “It was Trujillo” (Pg.4) to credit him with the “Curse of the Kennedys [and his] involvement in Vietnam” (Pg. 4). Diaz makes conspiracy theories to show how powerful Trujillo was and to make the readers have the idea of his involvement in these major events. Trujillo was so powerful that Diaz hints at the fact he had the power to destroy a family with “a curse or a doom of some kind” (Pg. 1) which is also known as Fuku. This curse has been around for years and plays a role in bad luck all around the world and every individual has it. This novel takes the reader through a family’s journey with fuku and worst of all, with Trujillo.
The De Leon family first becomes exposed to Trujillo through Abelard Cabral “Oscar and Lola's grandfather” (Pg.211). Abelard is “the famous doctor...a surgeon who had studied in Mexico City” (Pg. 211). He has an outstanding wife and two beautiful daughters that he protects carefully. Yet everything good comes to an end, especially during this time. Trujillo is fascinated with beautiful young girls with “hips-ass-chest” (Pg.218). Abelard can’t cope with the idea of his daughter “getting raped by her illustrious President” (Pg. 218). Even if Abelard tried hiding them or protecting them Trujillo “had hundreds of spies whose entire job was to scour the provinces for his next piece of ass” (Pg.217). This shows how power-driven Trujillo was. He wanted everyone to know that he was able to get anything/everything that he desired no matter the extreme measures that needed to be taken. However, this was Trujillo’s land and he knew everything that went on within it. Shorty after, Abelard is arrested in a cell “that stank of malaria sweat and diarrhea” (Pg. 239). If anybody were to cross Trujillo they were kept in unsanitary cells and beaten frequently. Even one of Abelard’s daughters, captain of the swimming team, “was found drowned in...two feet of water” (Pg. 249). Anybody who crossed Trujillo risked not only themselves, but their entire family from being a victim of fuku.
While most of the De Leon’s faced fuku later on in their lives, this wasn’t the case for Abelard’s Grandson, Oscar. Oscar wasn’t what one would consider a “typical Dominican”. He was a “fat sci-fi-reading nerd” (Pg.19). Despite his differences, he only wanted to be loved by a girl. During this time Trujillo was long gone but fuku dwelled. Oscar’s case of fuku was so excessive that it led him to try “killing [himself]” (Pg. 191) on two separate occasions. Diaz includes these details in order to show how powerful fuku truly is and how it should never be underestimated. His family decides to take him to Dominican Republic as an escape, but he ends up falling in love with a forbidden fruit, Ybon. Forbidden because her boyfriend happens to be “the captain” (Pg. 291). Nevertheless, Oscar goes for it even though he “realized with unusual clarity that he was heading down that road again”(Pg.291) and fuku takes a gun and ends his life. Diaz takes the reader through the highs and lows of a Dominican family and how a dictator left their family in a mess and to .
Although Trujillo died and his reign finished, his era never really ended. To this day, he still has people spreaded all over the Dominican Republic. Due to his ruling he left Dominican Republic messed up and it shown in The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz by giving the readers “two seconds of dominican history”. Also by focusing on one specific family which gives the readers something to relate too.
Diaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Riverhead, 2007.