Trujillo and the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is not a happy book. The Author, Junot Diaz, does a great job fooling the reader into believing the story is about the De Leon family, specifically Oscar who is an over weight nerd trying to find the love of his life, but due to a family “fuku” or curse Oscar is having a lot of trouble doing so. Instead, the story actually portrays the dark history of the Dominican Republic under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Upon reading the stories of Oscar’s relatives the reader feels a powerful message of fear and oppression due to the actions of the Trujillo regime. Even after the demise of Trujillo, people were so accustomed to the lifestyle they had to live during his regime, that Trujillo’s practices and dictator concepts still existed and is portrayed by Oscars run in with the captain after his relationship with Ybon.
The theme of Dominican history is the focal point of the novel. In the opening pages Diaz explains that this novel is for “those of you who missed you mandatory two seconds of Dominican history” (Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, p. 2). In an interview with Slate Magazine Diaz explained that he had to read hundreds of books about the Trujillo regime, as well ask numerous Dominicans for local stories. This is where many of the nicknames Diaz uses in the novel to call Trujillo originate. He refers to Trujillo as “the failed cattle thief”, “T-zillo”, and “El Jefe” (Diaz, The Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao P. 110). The importance of understanding the way people felt about Trujillo is a crucial aspect to understanding the significance of what Diaz is trying to explain in his stories of Oscar’s family. Diaz uses an epigraph taken from the La Nacion newspaper to explain the impact Trujillo had on the people. “Men are not indispensible. But Trujillo is irreplaceable. For Trujillo is not a man. He is…. A cosmic force… Those who try to compare him to his ordinary contemporaries are mistaken. He belongs to….the category of those born to a special destiny” (Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao 204).
The first story dating back to the Trujillo regime in the novel is Hypatía Belicia Cabral’s who is Oscar’s mother who goes by the name Beli. It is revealed that Beli's family died when she was one year old, and the man held responsible for her family’s deaths was Trujillo. An abusive foster family raised her until her father's cousin, La Inca, rescues her. La Inca reminds Beli that her father was a doctor, and that her mother was a nurse as a way to remind Beli of her heritage. Years later Beli develops into a full-grown and well endowed woman, and she becomes very popular with men of all ages. Soon after she meets a gangster, and the two of them start to have a relationship. Eventually, Beli becomes pregnant with the gangster's child. It is then revealed that the gangster is married to one of Trujillo's sisters. When Trujillo’s sister finds out that Beli is pregnant with her husband's child, she has two large cops kidnap Beli, to force an abortion. With the help of her employers she was able to escape. But soon after, Beli is tricked into being taken by the cops. On the way to drive to a cane field, the two cops beat Beli close to death, and continue to do so in the cane field. The baby inside her dies during this beating. Luckily, Beli survived and once back to proper health, La Inca realizes she will not be safe under the Trujillo Regime and sent Beli to New York to live.
The next story in the novel that dates back to the Trujillato is the story of Abelard. Abelard is Beli’s father, and Oscar’s grandfather. Abelard is a wealthy doctor who attends Trujillo’s meetings, banquets, and parties. His oldest daughter Jaquelyn became very beautiful, and Trujillo has sexual desires for you young beautiful girls regardless of who their family is. Abelard...
Cited: Abrams, Max. “Immigrants and Galactus: Junot Diaz’s World in The Brief Wondrous
Life of Oscar Wao.” English and Comparative Literary Studies Comps. Spring 2009. http//scholar.oxy.edu/ecls_student/1.
Diaz, Junot. Interview. “Open Book: Junot Diaz (Full Interview)” By Deborah Landau
and Meghan O’Rourke. http://dyst.slatev.com/video/open-book-junot-diaz-full-version/ 23 February 2010. 26 April 2011.
Diaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead, 2007.
Hanna Monica. “ ‘Reassembling the Fragments’: Battling Historiographies, Caribbean
Discourse, and Nerd Genres in Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar
Wao” Callaloo 33.2 (Spring 2010): 498-520.
Wells, Allen. “The Dictator’s Seduction: Politics and the Popular Imagination in the Era
of Trujillo.” The Americas 66.4. (April 2010) 567-569.
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