Their very own pagina en … A particularly salient thread in the novel, a thread that Hall’s insights will help us to analyze, involves the conflict lurking in the identity of the Dominican people at large. Previous Next ... Later, when he wrote his memoirs, he claimed to have known who had done the foul deed (not him, of course) and left a blank page, a página en blanco [blank page], in the text to be filled in with the truth upon his death. In fact, Yunior’s narrative project, cleaving closely to factual history, combats Trujillo’s legacy of half–truths and silences on behalf of the entire Dominican Republic. Still, an important question remains: how is Yunior and Oscar’s project of redemption to be realized via the retelling of the past? By Hall’s same logic, Yunior’s retelling of the past can never decisively define the Dominican identity. Adopting Yunior’s version of history, then, would be a simple reversion to the. But even the most personal and individual of these storylines are always tied inextricably to the history of the Dominican people as a whole, a feat that Díaz accomplishes with frequent, discursive footnotes providing commentary and context. But Oscar and Yunior seem to believe that telling the history of the de Leon family will, somehow, counteract the fukú that haunts them. The twentieth century’s one of the most disreputable dictators, Rafael Trujillo exercised absolute power over Dominican Republic like a feudal lord from February, 1930 until his assassination in May, 1961. The old man had a mask, on. Another footnote tells the story of Joaquin Balaguer, a former member of the Trujillo regime who promises to reveal the identity of a journalist’s murderer via a pagina en blanco in his autobiography — a purposefully constructed hole in history — to be filled upon his death (Díaz 90). In the novel, Trujillo has supernatural powers. Indeed, the version of the past presented by the Trujillo regime is closer to founding epic than history. (including. Yunior then has to piece together Oscar’s lessons for himself, coming to a more satisfying answer. From this perspective, Yunior’s version of the past should supplant Trujillo’s with relative ease because the former is rooted in reality and the latter in deception. On the other hand, Hall’s theory does not quite account for the ways in which, in this novel, the act of retelling the past becomes a weapon in a battle with heavy consequences. The novel, in other words, allows us to see a troubling ramification of an unstable cultural identity: a conflict that resists the efforts of the Dominican people to deny it. Here, blank pages symbolize limitless possibility. My students love how organized the handouts are and enjoy tracking the themes as a class.”, Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead Books edition of. By Junot Díaz. On his second return to the island, having recently seized on the fukú as “bigger game afoot” (Díaz 306) than his physical injuries. To learn more about Exposé's print and digital aspects, visit the About page. His regime sought to construct a false history designed to forge a new, “pure” cultural identity for the Dominican Republic, an identity that Yunior might describe as free of the fukú. "My students can't get enough of your charts and their results have gone through the roof." Kind of like Sauron in The Lord of the Rings. Hall’s dynamic process of reinvention. For as much as it purports to tell the story of a single, central family, it is thoroughly embedded in the vivid, unflinching, and tragic history of an entire country: the Dominican Republic. Filling the Blank Pages in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Filling the Blank Pages. Like cultural identity, the novel is constructed in defiance of the notion of “fully rounded narratives” (“The Exploding Planet of Junot Díaz”). In other words, the epic rests on an idealized version of the world projected into the past by people living in the present. The fukú as described by Yunior participates in an intimate but ambiguous association with Rafael Trujillo, the dictator of the Dominican Republic around midcentury. Given that the fukú appears to be a historical force, we can begin to unravel the relationship between Trujillo and the curse by analyzing the dictator’s predilection for erasing history. “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.”, Bakhtin, M.M. In so doing, he shatters the illusion wrought by Trujillo of a whole, white, pure Dominican identity. The history of this culture, scarred by the violence of colonialism and the horrors of slavery, mirrors Beli’s own experiences in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; for the Dominicans who populate Díaz’s novel, the tortured past is, to some degree, a blank page, a dark period they prefer to be left unexamined. On one level, the fukú is simply a curse like other curses, bringing misfortune to a woman who had “been denied happiness because she laughed at a rival’s funeral” (Díaz 5). In this more supernatural sense, the fukú is the effort of inescapable history to force the Dominican people to recognize its existence. After vicious cycles of failure and depression, Oscar finally finds love in the form of a middle–aged prostitute in the Dominican Republic, only to meet death by gunfire at the command of her jealous boyfriend, a corrupt cop. Hidden beneath the apparent democracy of cultural identity, defined by the people’s own re–imaginings of history, are the seeds of exploitation by political authority. The book has many complex and underlining themes but I was most intrigued with this connection between Fuku, Zafa and Trujillo and how I could further connect that to the racial difficulties they are still facing. But the novel challenges the possibility of an objectively true account of history. Yunior is less concerned with the fukú specific to Oscar’s family than with what he calls “the Great American Doom” (Díaz 5), the fukú that afflicts the Dominicans as a people. “The Exploding Planet of Junot Díaz.” Interview by Evelyn Ch’ien. His analysis, though focused on the Caribbean as a whole, applies. Consequently, the Dominican identity as rendered by Díaz is, like Beli’s identity, somewhat damaged, somewhat lacking. Yunior forcibly thrusts the ugly. The Trujillo regime records not factual history but history as it might have occurred in the untroubled “represented world,” providing an alternative narrative to the true history of violence and fragmentation. The preface closes with Yunior describing the book to follow as “a zafa of sorts” (Díaz 7), a fact that suggests a crucial connection between Yunior’s dream of Oscar and his own authorship of the book. In The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Diaz often resorts to symbolism and symbolic relations between characters, which is typical of magic realism style. For Hall, cultural identity is “grounded [not] in the archeology, but in the retelling of the past” (235). As demonstrated by both the epic narrative constructed by Trujillo and the gritty, realistic account of Yunior, retellings of the past are powerful but short lived. I have never read a novel that had so much profanity in it, let alone one that used the profanity to help the book along. The longevity and viability of a particular retelling of the past arise not out of its faithfulness to history but out of its value to the identity of a people. Beli’s memories of that period of her life are not. Footnotes throughout the novel detail Trujillo’s relentless pursuit of dissenters and others who pose a challenge to the regime; common to all of these instances is Trujillo’s attempt to delete the past of his victims. For Hall, who refrains from making value judgments about cultural identities, the concept of redemption through reimagining the past may be irrelevant. If the book's called The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, then why is the madman Rafael Leónidas Trujillo one of the first characters we meet in it? its recreation. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Páginas en Blanco (“Blank Pages”) Yunior uses the Spanish-language phrase páginasenblanco (“blank pages”) to refer both to gaps in history and the power of creativity. Yunior writes his narrative to redeem the storyteller’s tradition of reimagining the past from its corruption and exploitation at the hands of the likes of Rafael Trujillo. But the blankness of the book, a collection of paginas en blanco, suggests that the story of this past is untold, perhaps silenced by colonialism and dictatorship. As a result, in trying to learn the truth behind Abelard’s story from his descendants, Yunior discovers “within the family a silence that stands monument to the generations… A whisper. In addition, Nanita sets up Trujillo as the ideal Dominican in helping to construct for his people a new identity, one that deifies whiteness and racial purity. Throughout the novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, written by Junot Diaz, sex and masculinity is the vital element in being a Dominican male. A ghetto nerd living with his Dominican family in New Jersey, Oscar's sweet but disastrously overweight. That family history, the simplified main storyline, follows the overweight, sci–fi–obsessed Oscar de Leon as he struggles with his Dominican identity and his cruelly. As usual, the novel offers no definitive answers, though. simply lacking in brightness, dimmed and darkened by time. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (TBWLoOW) deserves every star that I can give it and its narrator. By the end, he believes he has uncovered the secret to stopping the succession of the fukú from generation to generation of his family. The power of erasure held by Trujillo in the novel holds true to the real–life dictator’s method of rule. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. In the world of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, as Dr. Manhattan says, “Nothing ever ends” (Díaz 331). Yunior notices that Oscar’s “eyes are smiling” and thinks to himself, “Zafa” (Díaz 325), which, as explained in the preface, is the counterspell to the fukú. We may be tempted here to read this dynamism as creating conflict, but in Hall’s view, this is not necessarily the case. Interpreted in this manner, the dream forces Oscar to confront the emptiness of a history suppressed by centuries of authoritarian rule and cultural self–deception. Perhaps, then, we can consider Yunior’s narrative history (and, be extension, the novel itself) as a counterweight to the kind of history and identity forged by Trujillo. In the first. So he's important enough to put up front. As Hall explains, Caribbean cultural identities contain, among others, three simultaneous presences: Présence Africaine, Présence Européenne, and Présence Américaine (240). With dazzling energy and insight Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous lives of Oscar; and in the family's uproarious journey from the Dominican Republic to the US and back. Actually, wait a minute. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2008; an amazing and riveting work of fiction. conflict between Hall’s three Présences into the reader’s awareness, highlighting among other things his own people’s continued use of criadas, or house slaves, and their hypocritical hatred of dark skin (Díaz 253). Opinion of the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: I found this novel to be very unique. Blank pages also recur as a motif in dreams that both Oscar and Yunior have, sending both of them a message about how essential it is for them to write about the family's lost history in order to end its curse. Three themes dominate Lola's narrative: her life-and-death… By retelling the “true” history of the Dominican Republic, Yunior strives to restore the identity of his people, filling in the paginas en blanco not with false wholeness but with an embrace of the truth. By focusing on Trujillo’s flawlessness and the idealized origins of his regime, Nanita’s biography conforms to what M.M Bakhtin calls the “constitutive feature” (13) of the epic: Oscar de Leon is the character’s given name. Consequently, his quest strikes at the heart of the fukú: the unwillingness of his people to accept their embattled history. Such a narrative is crucial for the Trujillo regime’s goal of constructing a unified state out of a population fraught with division. When Yunior, waking up after yet another cocaine trip, finally responds to the dream, he says, “OK, Wao, OK. You win” (Díaz 325), implying that the dream is in fact responsible for Yunior’s writing of the book. Nanita’s biography reveals the extent to which the historical figure of Trujillo erased part of his own genealogical history by replacing it with a narrative of European purity. Out of this new narrative — in the words of Hall, a “retelling of the past” (235) — may arise a new cultural identity, similarly whole, white and pure, itself a blank page. Blank pages recur throughout the novel, sometimes as pieces of paper that are literally blank, and sometimes as writing that has been lost or erased. Crucially, these retellings are not simply dry, factual accounts of history; they are vibrant, impassioned recreations of “her Family’s Golden Glorious Past” (Díaz 81). In another sense, the blank page represents the false veneer of wholeness and purity concealing true, conflicted history. For Nanita and Trujillo, this “represented world” lacks conflict and is marked by racial purity; in Bakhtin’s words, it possesses “a radical degree of ‘completedness’” (14), by which he means an unrealistic coherence and lack of ambiguity. By focusing on Trujillo’s flawlessness and the idealized origins of his regime, Nanita’s biography conforms to what M.M Bakhtin calls the “constitutive feature” (13) of the epic:“the transferral of a represented world into the past” (13). Cultural identity for Díaz is a site of conflict, in which redemption is possible but never realized. (78), — Junot DíazThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz’s novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao demands that its interpretation grapple with historical forces writ large. On the contrary, she and La Inca have attempted to eliminate those memories altogether; they have consciously sought blank slate. “Junot Díaz: An Interview.” By Reese Kwon. The qualities of “exclusion, imposition, and expropriation” (242) that Hall attributes to Présence Européenne appear in the novel in the form of the Trujillo dictatorship, marked by systemic racism and oppressive interference. What's certain is that nothing’s certain. In this respect, fuku is symbolically represented through the governmental authorities and antagonists, including the cruel dictator Trujillo who persecutes Oscar, his mother, and his grandfather. Hall emphasizes the relative freedom afforded by such a dynamic process of cultural identity formation, which allows a fragmented people to construct an identity that binds them together without denying their differences. “Epic and Novel: Toward a Methodology for the Study of the Novel.”. The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao Junot Díaz 56-page comprehensive study guide Features detailed chapter by chapter summaries and multiple sections of expert analysis The ultimate resource for class assignments, lesson planning, or … From the creators of SparkNotes, something better. From these clues, we may deduce that the fukú represents both colonialism and its legacy, which brought the Dominican people into being and cursed their existence. First and foremost, Yunior, as the narrator, sets himself up in opposition to the Dominican tendency toward amnesia in dealing with a troubled past. 'The Best Novel of the 21st Century to Date' - BBC Culture. here and there but nothing more” (Díaz 243). seems to fit with this hopeful perspective, but Trujillo’s manipulation of the past through his own narrative complicates Hall’s vision. While the images of darkness and this blank page may seem contradictory, their juxtaposition illuminates a critical distinction. 133 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao If he’d been a different nigger he might have considered the galletazo. Before 1951, our orphaned girl had lived with another foster family, monstrous people if the rumors are to be believed, a dark period of her life neither she nor her madre ever referenced. While “páginas en blanco” is literally the name that Trujillo used for his ban on records during his regime, these “pages” also symbolize the many gaps of information or communication that the characters face. This preview shows page 1 - 3 out of 6 pages. -Graham S. The timeline below shows where the symbol Páginas en blanco (Blank pages) appears in, Book 2, Chapter 6: Land of the Lost (1992-1995), ...nothing but an “Aslan-like figure with golden eyes” and a man wearing a mask holding, ...books and Oscar wears a mask that covers everything but his eyes. We lied. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao essays are academic essays for citation. Nowhere does he let the Dominican people remain free of blame. While the … The project of writing the book, of recording the history of the de Leon family, seems to have rescued Yunior from a dangerous life; more important, it seems to have come from Oscar. Applying Hall’s theory of cultural identity, it would seem that the identity the Dominican people have constructed is built from an incomplete retelling of the past, one that ignores an uncomfortable truth. 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