Essay about Dominican Republic and Brief Wondrous Life

Submitted By buck9406
Words: 1058
Pages: 5

Themes:
Power. Power, power, power: everybody wants it, but not everybody can have it. And who's got the lion's share of this stuff in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao? Who owns (or HYPERLINK "http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pwn" \t "_blank" pwns) the other characters? Trujillo, of course. You can practically picture Trujillo sitting on his dictator's throne smack-dab in the center of the novel, lording over nearly every character we meet. Just like how the real-life Trujillo messed with the lives of nearly every real-life Dominican. Trujillo is so powerful that the narrator of the novel (and various other characters) even say he's got supernatural powers. This is not to say that the powers of good hold no sway in Wao. They do. They're just not as dominant as "the Dictatingest Dictator who ever Dictated" (1.3.2.10).
Supernatural. You can't talk about ghosts, spells, and curses without asking the following question: do they really exist? The narrator, Yunior, spends a lot of time trying to convince us that the troubles that befall the characters in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao all relate back to a historical curse: fukú. In Yunior's opinion, everything comes back to fukú. The evil politicians of the novel, Trujillo included, are so formidable, you see, because they actually have supernatural powers. Certainly, the narrator wants you to believe fukú exists. But do you think the author wants us to believe in fukú? Or is he, instead, making a point about how people invoke the fantastic when they just can't explain why really terrible, and really wonderful, things happen in the world?
Forgiveness. Wouldn't you feel like an outsider if you were a Dominican living all the way in Paterson, New Jersey, of all places? But don't get too confident about your understanding of foreignness in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; we think it's both easy and difficult to identify. So, yes, Beli and Co. are not native-born Americans, which makes them feel different from other people. However, since Oscar has the same fantasy fiction interests as nerdy suburban white kids, he also feels like an outsider within the Dominican community. Plus, when Oscar's family returns home to the Dominican Republic, they're actually only visitors. They're not native islanders. And how are Haitians and dark-skinned Dominicans treated in the Dominican Republic? That's right, these groups are treated cruelly, and with disdain. Not all Dominicans are thought of as equally Dominican, if you catch our drift…
Gender. Have you ever noticed that pretty much all of the villians in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are men? That's no coincidence, Shmoopers. Wao recounts the abuses of colonial powers on island nations like the Dominican Republic, which embody what some might call a paternalistic attitude to native peoples. It also details the legacy of evil male dictators like Trujillo, and tells stories of the very personal abuses men have heaped on women throughout history. See, though the poor treatment of women at the hands of cruel men certainly counts as a major theme of the novel, it must also be understood as a continuation of other historical injustices.
Love. Ah, love: a blessing, or a curse? We at Shmoop can't decide whether or not love is the real curse in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. On the one hand, love gets almost every major character in major trouble. Beli tosses aside her family for a man. That man turns out to be married to Trujillo's sister, so government goons nearly kill her. Oscar actually gets murdered for love. On the other hand, love makes life worth living for Oscar. And Beli remembers her time with Oscar's father and The Gangster as some of the best years of her life. We said it once, and we'll say it again. Love: a blessing, or a curse? The debate rages on...
Identity. Imagine that you're at a family reunion. You're talking to your uncle Ralph. He happens to be wearing the same clothes…