As English Literature MA major I have been introduced to books, both young and older, and fiction and nonfiction. One of those books, is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and I did not regret it.
Oscar identifies himself within in his own world, because he can not fit in anywhere else, due to the color of his skin, weight, and his lack of interests in sports and women (unlike the majority of Dominican males in his culture). There is a cliche that says men from the Dominican are good at talking to ladies. Well, Oscar has issues when it comes to chatting with the ladies, due to his “nerdiness” and weight problem. “Dude wore his nerdiness like a Jedi wore his light saber or a Lensman her lens. Couldn’t have passed for Normal if he’d wanted to” (Diaz 114). So, Oscar finds himself in a social limbo: he feels rejected by Caucasians because of the color of his skin, and he feels rejected by other Dominicans because of his taste in science fiction and fantasy and not the sports and women as most of the Dominican males in his culture seem to be interested in. So, there is also that masculine trait he’s missing to fit in with either culture, to flatter girls or win the boy’s respect.
I think Diaz focuses on individuality, as well as loneliness in the story. Oscar is his individual, but not only by his choice of reading comics and doing things others find peculiar, but because of not being to identify with him. Being an individual can cause social rejection, as it can be difficult to find others who share and respect what that person does. It is especially difficult when a person’s skin color is different and who is overweight. Oscar’s experience with girls are lacking. But this does not stop him from using his imagination to be the top bachelor in town. “He had secret loves all over town, the kind of curly-haired big bodied girls who wouldn’t have said boo to a loser like him but about whom he could not stop dreaming” (Diaz 23). He conjures girls in his mind that share his physical traits, because those are who he believes he has a chance with dating. He identifies with them, because of their similar physical traits. This is also an example of his loneliness. He imagines having these girlfriends around town that look like him, therefore, will be more likely to accept him.
When a person is raised in a culture not that of his/her own, a challenge has already been presented. In Oscar’s case, this is obviously and unfortunately due to the difference in his physical features: skin, hair and weight. But when a person is rejected by the people if his own culture, it creates a world of loneliness for this person. At this point this person tries to identify with him or herself if not with the people around him to find purpose in life, as he continues to struggle with finding the other part of himself in the world. Oscar does just this. He is in a culture in a America, New Jersey, among mostly Caucasians. He shows no interests in the popular sports, social life and fascination with women as a lot of Dominican males do. Nope, Oscar enjoys his science fiction and fantasy comics, and simply being …Oscar.
Diaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead, 2007. Print.